GEORGE TOWN • A lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) has appeared before the party's two top leaders to explain a controversy over discreetly captured photographs that apparently show the Member of Parliament being intimate with a young party leader. The issue is being hotly debated on social media.
Malaysian MP Zairil Khir Johari, who is married with two children, has denied that the pictures were of him with DAP Youth leader Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud in a restaurant.
"No, it's not me. It is clearly another attempt to malign me with personal attacks," he said in a WhatsApp message, reported The Star yesterday. "They are fake and that's all I have to say."
The woman in the pictures drank from a wine glass, and another photo showed the man kissing her.
Ms Dyana said the issue involves "privacy intrusions".
"I assume the general election must be near," she wrote in a Facebook post. "No matter who is in the photos or videos in which I allegedly feature, these are major privacy intrusions into that person's life. I am sad that our politics culture has gone to this."
Both are fast-rising Malay politicians in the Chinese-based DAP.
This was the third time the pair had been at the centre of claims by unknown people in which photos of them allegedly kissing, hugging and dancing went viral.
While the issue involves invasion of privacy, the DAP knows it cannot mishandle the matter as it could wrong-foot the party's wooing of Malay-Muslim voters.
Penang's Chief Minister and the DAP's secretary-general, Mr Lim Guan Eng, said yesterday that he will not comment for now on the controversial photos. "I will issue a statement if needed and will not make a comment on it for now," he said, according to The Star.
Penang DAP chief Chow Kon Yeow said Mr Zairil had appeared before Mr Lim and him on Tuesday over the issue.
"Since this is an attack on his privacy, Zairil has requested to sort out the issue himself for the time being," Mr Chow said in a statement.
To be sure, the spread of such sensational images or videos in Malaysia have not affected the standing of politicians much in the past.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was allegedly featured in a 2011 video having sex with a Chinese woman. And then secretary-general of Parti Islam SeMalaysia Mustafa Ali was allegedly the man in a video having sex with a Malay woman in a hotel in 2013.
Both politicians are still active.
Online, opposition supporters are blaming the dirty tactics on Umno, while government supporters say the third series of pictures to come out in the last three months cannot be so easily dismissed.