KUALA LUMPUR: More than 20 senior politicians from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) on Thursday (Jul 18) criticised party president Anwar Ibrahim for not standing by a Cabinet minister implicated in a viral sex video scandal.
This came after Mr Anwar said Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali should resign if it is confirmed that he was involved in the video.
In a joint statement, the party’s supreme council members said Mr Anwar’s remarks were “inappropriate and based on speculative assertions”.
“He should be focusing on the key issue here, which is that there is an organised attempt to use gutter politics to bring down our leaders,” they said.
“He should be more concerned about the criminal offences committed by this group who have systematically and widely distributed a video displaying sex acts.”
They added that Mr Anwar should be using his influence to aid Mr Azmin and stand by him in the interest of party unity, instead of undermining the latter using speculation.
“He should remember Azmin has defended him and his family for more than 20 years against the same type of gutter politics,” they said.
“We urge Anwar Ibrahim as the party president to stop making such divisive statements. We call upon him to work instead to unite the party in the interest of our members, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and our country.”
Former PKR member Haziq Aziz has confessed to being the man in the video and named Mr Azmin as the other party.
Mr Azmin, who is also from PKR, has vehemently denied the allegation, calling it a nefarious plot by his opponents to assassinate his reputation and character and destroy his political career.
At the weekend, police arrested Mr Haziq and five other people in multiple locations across the Klang Valley.
They will remain in remand until Jul 20. Several of them are believed to be PKR members.
On Tuesday, Malaysian media reported that Mr Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak - who is Mr Anwar’s political secretary and PKR’s Kuala Kangsar, Perak division chief – had been arrested together with two other men.
Mr Farhash had earlier called for Mr Azmin to resign if it is proven that he was involved in the sex video. He has been remanded for investigations until Saturday.
There have been suggestions that supporters of Mr Anwar were responsible for the video in a bid to topple Mr Azmin, but Mr Anwar has refuted the allegations.
On Wednesday, the prime minister-in-waiting reportedly said: “My initial view is for him (Mr Azmin) not to resign. It will depend on investigations.”
“If the investigation is conclusive, in terms of the participants of the act, then I think he needs to resign,” Mr Anwar added.
In a sharp retort, Mr Azmin, speaking to reporters said: “Look at the man in the mirror.”
“Ask Anwar to ‘muhasabah diri’ (carry out self-introspection) and reflect on himself.”
ANWAR DOWNPLAYS RIFT WITH AZMIN
Mr Anwar on Thursday downplayed the war of words with the minister.
"Azmin said that without reading the full statement (that I made)," he was quoted as saying by the Star.
"He is undergoing a very difficult period, and I will certainly not respond to a spontaneous outburst."
Mr Anwar also said that people should not exploit Mr Azmin's statement on the matter. He did not elaborate.
Mr Anwar, who was formerly a deputy prime minister, was sacked by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 over sodomy and corruption allegations.
He was released from prison in 2004, but was sentenced to another jail term in 2015 on a second sodomy allegation. He was granted a royal pardon following PH’s victory in last May’s general election.
Within PH, there has been an agreement that Dr Mahathir will serve as an interim prime minister before handing over to Mr Anwar. The handover agreement, however, despite repeated verbal reassurances, had not been etched in stone.