Anwar’s former staff member gives statement to police after accusing him of sexual assault

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim’s former research assistant, Mr Muhammed Yusoff Rawther (right), and his lawyer speaking to reporters on Dec 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: NADIRAH H. RODZI

KUALA LUMPUR - A former research assistant of Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has given his statement to the police after accusing Datuk Seri Anwar of sexually assaulting him in October last year.

Mr Muhammed Yusoff Rawther, 26, said that he had his statement recorded by the authorities on Monday (Dec 9) following a police report he had lodged on Saturday.

He arrived at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman on Monday at 1pm with his lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla and spent more than seven hours there.

The allegations first surfaced last Wednesday, when Mr Yusoff in a press conference described an incident involving Mr Anwar as "vile, insidious, morally repugnant and criminal in nature", and asserting that it "has left me traumatised and disturbed to an extent".

On Wednesday, he had also referred to his statutory declaration, which has gone viral on social media, which he said contained details of the alleged incident. The statutory declaration has been given to the police.

The case is being investigated under section 354 of the Penal Code for assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty.

Mr Anwar, who is president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), has denied the allegations, calling it "baseless slander" and a trick to degrade his image ahead of his party's national congress last week and the country's leadership power transition process.

PKR is the largest party within Malaysia's ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, which had agreed for Mr Anwar to take over as prime minister from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. However, no date has been specified for the handover.

A police report has been lodged against Mr Yusoff with Mr Anwar's lawyer, Mr Ramkarpal Singh, issuing a letter of demand for him to retract his claims.

The incident purportedly took place at Mr Anwar's home in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur, in October last year. Mr Anwar has said he was busy campaigning for his parliamentary seat in Port Dickson and had a packed schedule that day.

Asked on Friday about the timing of his explosive revelations, lawyer Datuk Haniff said Mr Yusoff has already explained at length to the police as to why there was a delay in lodging the report.

"As to the reason, I am not at liberty to divulge this to the public as it is part of the statement he (Mr Yusoff) has given to the police... there's no threat to his safety at the moment, but we still have to be cautious," he said.

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

Mr Anwar has been imprisoned twice during the past two decades for sodomy, charges which he has consistently denied and maintained were politically motivated.

Meanwhile, Mr Yusoff's granduncle Mohideen Abdul Kader has said that Mr Yusoff has been manipulated by certain politicians to serve their interests.

He said that none of their family members, including Mr Yusoff's late grandfather, former Consumer Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris, were told about this incident despite Mr Yusoff being very close to his grandfather.

Mr Anwar is said to be a close friend of Mr Mohamed Idris.

"This granduncle is someone I meet once a year during Hari Raya. All of a sudden, he's an expert on my life. People who are not part of my family, don't get involved," Mr Yusoff said, when asked on Friday whether he was worried about tearing his family apart by coming forward with his allegations.

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