Anwar Ibrahim denies sexual harassment allegation by male ex-staff member

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim released a statement refuting the allegation of sexual harassment, calling it "baseless slander". ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has denied accusations of sexual harassment by a male former staff member that emerged at the start of his party's annual convention.

On Thursday (Dec 5), Datuk Seri Anwar released a statement refuting the allegation, calling it "baseless slander".

This came after a Facebook page with a video and purported statutory declaration by one Muhammad Yusoff Rawther went viral on Wednesday.

Mr Anwar was accused of indecent exposure at his office in Petaling Jaya, at the start of his Port Dickson by-election campaign last year.

He was making a comeback to Parliament after his release from prison in May 2018 following Pakatan Harapan's (PH) electoral victory.

He won the by-election and is now the member of parliament for Port Dickson.

Mr Anwar also marked his return by taking back the role of president at Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the largest party in Parliament with 50 MPs of the 222-seat Lower House.

A police report has been lodged against Mr Yusoff, 26, in response to the accusation, with Mr Anwar's lawyer, Mr Ramkarpal Singh, issuing a letter of demand to seek a retraction within seven days.

Mr Anwar said in the statement: "This move is a trick to degrade my image on the cusp of Keadilan's 14th National Congress and the country's leadership power transition process."

PKR is holding its annual convention from Thursday to Sunday.

Mr Anwar is seen as Malaysia's prime minister-in-waiting under an agreement formulated among PH leaders before the 2018 general election.

​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​A Facebook page with a video and purported statutory declaration by one Muhammad Yusoff Rawther went viral on Dec 4, 2019. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK/SOLIDARITI BUAT MUHAMMED YUSOFF RAWTER

However, factionalism within his party and the rising influence of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali has deepened a feud between the two politicians.

Both came out to announce a reconciliation this week, but the newest allegation against Mr Anwar is seen as being timed to cause embarrassment just as the party's convention is held this week in Melaka.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Anwar said: "The level of gutter politics in this country... (has) become a culture and is disgusting."

This marks the third time the 72-year-old politician has been accused of indecent exposure by a former male employee.

Mr Anwar has been imprisoned twice over the past two decades for sodomy, charges which he had vehemently denied and termed as politically motivated.

Datuk Seri Azmin, meanwhile, was also tied to a sex video scandal involving a male PKR member five months ago.

He too, denied the allegation that he was the individual caught on tape.

Mr Yusoff, in the Facebook video of his "press conference", labelled the incident with Mr Anwar as "vile, insidious, morally repugnant and criminal in nature", asserting that it "has left me traumatised and disturbed to an extent".

Mr Anwar said that on the alleged date of harassment, he was busy campaigning for the by-election and had a full-day schedule.

Members of his party have begun to rally behind their leader, with former lawmaker Tian Chua stating: "I urge everyone not to entertain any malicious smearing of character of our leaders".

Mr Anwar, appearing calm and unperturbed in Parliament, quickly dismissed the accusation as unsurprising, telling reporters that a month ago he heard of an attempt "to influence and bribe".

"This is politics… It requires tenacity of purpose, courage of conviction to move on with a bigger agenda," he said on the sidelines of PKR's congress.

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