Mahathir's party hit by sexting scandal

Ms Anina rose to fame after her scathing speech against Prime Minister Najib over the 1MDB scandal.
Ms Anina rose to fame after her scathing speech against Prime Minister Najib over the 1MDB scandal.

KUALA LUMPUR • Barely four months old, former premier Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) has found itself engulfed in a sex scandal involving a woman leader, Ms Anina Saadudin.

Her alleged sexting with a man has been making the rounds on WhatsApp and pro-Umno blogs, forcing the party to drop her at the weekend as its proposed chief of the yet-to-be-formed women's wing Srikandi. She remains a member of the decision-making supreme council of PPBM whose chairman is Tun Dr Mahathir.

"Only a stupid party would bow down to a stupid scandal," Ms Anina, a former university lecturer, told Free Malaysia Today on Sunday, in response to the scandal and being dropped from leading Srikandi.

No details were available about her age or marital status. She told Bahasa newspaper Sinar Harian earlier this month that the scandal would not affect her as long as her "children, family members, students and friends" stood behind her. Ms Anina was named head of the women's wing on Nov 2, at the same ceremony where PPBM announced its supreme leadership council members. The formation of Malaysia's newest political party was officially approved in early September.

In a statement issued on Sunday, PPBM secretary-general Shahruddin Md Salleh said it had yet to formally establish the women's wing. "Thus, the position of Anina being referred to as Srikandi chief should not arise," he said.

Ms Anina shot to fame after her scathing speech against Prime Minister Najib Razak at a meeting of her Langkawi branch of the ruling Umno party last year over the Premier's corruption scandal. She described Datuk Seri Najib as having "urinated" on Umno members for causing the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal. This led to her sacking.

She joined Dr Mahathir when he started talking about forming a new political party to take on Mr Najib.

PPBM is led by its president, former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The sex scandal comes at a bad time for PPBM as it is trying hard to woo conservative Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to rejoin the opposition ranks to fight against Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) at the next general election.

Opposition party PAS has sidled up to Umno after a bitter break-up with its former alliance members in the opposition.

Dr Mahathir has said PAS has to work with the other opposition parties in order to avoid three-cornered fights at the next polls, or they would lose badly to BN.

PPBM could be heading for more uncomfortable glare in the coming days. Its former prominent member, Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan, said yesterday that if Ms Anina was dropped owing to the sex allegations, PPBM president Muhyiddin must clear his name over recent accusations that he had an affair with someone's wife years ago, The Star reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016, with the headline 'Mahathir's party hit by sexting scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe