Malaysia gay sex video: Anwar surprised by aide's arrest, denies being behind the clip

(From left) Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Perak state chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and former PKR youth leader Haziq Aziz.
(From left) Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Perak state chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and former PKR youth leader Haziq Aziz.PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, NG SOR LUAN, HAZIQ AZIZ

KUALA LUMPUR - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim said he was surprised by the arrest of his aide in relation to the circulation of the gay sex video implicating Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali last month.

In a press conference held at the Parliament lobby on Wednesday (July 17), Datuk Seri Anwar also denied he was behind the video, saying insinuations about a higher-up being the mastermind are "baseless".

Official and legal sources told The Straits Times that the party's Perak state chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak was picked up along with two others near Johor Baru on Tuesday night.

Mr Farhash, the political secretary to Mr Anwar was remanded along with one of the other men for a further four days on Wednesday morning.

When asked about news of Mr Farhash's arrest, Mr Anwar said: "I was very surprised of course. I don’t know why but police may have their own reasons therefore let the investigations proceed according to its course."

Mr Farhash had previously denied any involvement in the circulation of the clips and instead called on PKR deputy president Azmin to resign "if the evidence is overwhelmingly against him".

Another six people, including former Sarawak-based party youth leader Haziq Aziz - who had claimed Datuk Seri Azmin and himself were the two men in the video - were detained on Sunday and are in remand until Saturday.

"Besides Haziq, at least three others arrested so far are linked to PKR leaders," a source said.

Mr Azmin, who observers say is a growing threat to Mr Anwar's position as the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition's next prime minister, has denied being in the video and claims a conspiracy from within the party.

After a lull in the early days since the clips first surfaced on June 11, PKR leaders from both factions resumed a war of words on Monday.

 
 
 
 

Mr Anwar, who is supposed to take over before the next election as premier from former nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad under a deal struck by the PH pact before it won power last year, had insisted that the public wanted to know if the videos were authentic.

PKR information chief and Deputy Primary Industries Minister Shamsul Iskandar - who sacked Mr Haziq as his principal private secretary following the scandal - added that those implicated in wrongdoing should take leave from office.

Mr Azmin responded by telling him "not to be a hypocrite" while his ally, party vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin, said that "while police investigations close in on the mastermind behind this case, there are signs of panic among some quarters".

Dr Mahathir said on Wednesday it is up to Mr Azmin if he wants to take leave or continue working, as individuals are innocent until proven guilty.

"He can carry on - you are not guilty until proven (otherwise)," he said.

Mr Anwar said Dr Mahathir's latest comments gave the impression that there is a new development in the investigation.

"I think if it is established that the video is real then he (Mr Azmin) should step down. But there is no confirmation yet. It will depend on the findings," Mr Anwar said .

Mr Azmin responded on Wednesday that “new politics in new Malaysia” is “not one that is obsessed with the relentless acquisition of power by whatever means possible including resorting to gutter politics”. 

Dr Mahathir also said the video is a political scheme that was intended to prevent somebody from succeeding in politics.

"It is not about exposing somebody's wrongdoings. It is about politics, in order to prevent somebody from being able to succeed in politics."

"It is a political scheme that is definitely intended to prevent somebody from succeeding," he said.