PORT DICKSON: Mr Anwar Ibrahim's former personal aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan has accused the Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader of wasting the Malaysian government's money and resources to further his political agenda.
Speaking to reporters at a media conference on Tuesday (Oct 2), Mr Saiful, who is one of seven candidates vying for the Port Dickson parliamentary seat, said he chose to campaign to protest against Mr Anwar's use of the by-election "as a tool" to fulfil his ambition to become prime minister.
"This is my official entry into national politics, and I might as well make it a grand entrance. If you want to test your limit, test the hardest battle," said Mr Saiful.
"This is about the action taken by (Anwar) to use this election for his own political agenda. Using the people's money - a total of RM3.6 million (US$870,000) (of the government's money) was set aside for this election as disclosed by the Election Commission of Malaysia," he added.
Mr Saiful had accused Mr Anwar of sodomising him in 2008, a charge which landed the then-opposition leader in jail in 2015. Mr Anwar maintains that the sodomy charges were political motivated.
He was released from prison in May 2018 after receiving a pardon by the king, days after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the general election.
Mr Saiful aknowledged that there have been criticism against him competing in the same election against the man he once accused of sodomy without consent.
"People ask me - by campaigning, don't you have dignity? If I were Anwar Ibrahim, I'd be even more ashamed of myself. You use the people's money to further your individual agenda. Is that a dignified act? That's not right," said Mr Saiful.
He added that if he was given the opportunity to be MP for Port Dickson, he would not betray the trust of the voters by resigning.
"Malaysians typically vote every five years, but people in Port Dickson are forced to vote after five months. What is this?" he quipped.
The Port Dickson parliamentary seat was vacated in September by PKR's Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, a retired navy Rear Admiral who resigned to pave the way for Mr Anwar to contest the seat and re-enter parliament.
But Mr Saiful maintains that he would make a better MP for Port Dickson than Mr Anwar because he would not be bogged down by the responsibilities of becoming prime minister.
"If he wins, he becomes prime minister. And as a PM, he will not be able to focus on PD. I am an independent, I can focus and give greater commitment to the people of Port Dickson."
Mr Saiful ramped up his campaign on Wednesday when he visited voters at markets, mosques and restaurants in the constituency.
The people he approached shook hands, smiled and some posed for pictures with the 33-year-old. A resident who declined to be named told Channel NewsAsia: "Mr Saiful seems like a kind, generous person.
"I haven't decided who to vote for yet, but he's not out of the running," she added.