Mahathir says he will not be manipulated by sex video scandal

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, in his strongest rebuke yet over what he views as a political ploy behind viral gay sex videos implicating Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, yesterday made clear that he will not help the conspirators behind the video to achieve their ends.

In a terse post on his personal blog, Chedet, the Prime Minister repeated his claim that the clips of two men engaging in sexual acts were circulated "clearly for political purposes, specifically to block the success of a particular individual".

"The action that was hoped to be taken after its release is the removal of the targeted individual. This action can be taken by me because I am in power," he wrote. "I am unwilling to be manipulated, much less by schemers with ill intent using dirty politics."

Despite not naming names, Tun Dr Mahathir's post makes it clear Mr Azmin's Cabinet post is safe amid the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president's feud with party president Anwar Ibrahim.

Dr Mahathir wrote: "My religion bars me from spying to find flaws in others. What has been done is worse than spying." Speaking to reporters, he clarified: "I am not defending him (Azmin). I am saying dirty politics... will not trap me to be a part of it.

"Somebody is trying to make use of me to achieve their purpose. This is not the usual video that you have seen before. This was purposely created in order to achieve a certain nasty objective... I am not going to be an agent in making that plan a success."

Police have said facial recognition software could not identify Mr Azmin as one of the men shown in the videos that were circulated early last month.

National police chief Hamid Bador said the footage was released by an "evil alliance" whose mastermind is a leader of a political party, a claim coming just days after Datuk Seri Anwar's political secretary Farhash Mubarak was remanded for a week in relation to the investigations.

Mr Azmin and party allies like Selangor chief minister Amirudin Shari say they know the person's identity.

Mr Anwar has denied involvement. His wife, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, said yesterday that Mr Azmin and Mr Amirudin should take their information to the police.

Asked yesterday if he knew the mastermind's identity, Dr Mahathir replied: "I am not the investigator."

Inspector-General Hamid yesterday denied political pressure on the investigation. The force has arrested 11 people, including PKR members, in the probe over the last 10 days.

Mr Farhash was released from remand yesterday, as was sacked PKR youth leader Haziq Aziz, who claimed he and Mr Azmin were the men in the videos. "I believe there is a political conspiracy against Anwar Ibrahim. If the (police have) any credibility, go bring Azmin Ali in," Mr Farhash said to the cheers of supporters who had gathered to welcome his release.

Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia. Mr Farhash, who is also Perak PKR chief, led the crowd of about 100 in chants of "Anwar Ibrahim for prime minister, Azmin semburit (sodomy)".

Dr Mahathir, 94, has pledged to step down before the next general election, as agreed by the Pakatan Harapan coalition before it won last year's polls.

The Prime Minister has named Mr Anwar, his former nemesis, as successor, but has said that whoever takes over must have the support of the majority - a statement seen to open the door to alternatives such as Mr Azmin.

Shannon Teoh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2019, with the headline 'Mahathir says he will not be manipulated by sex video scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe