Anwar denies he was in audio clip speaking to man said to be Umno president Zahid

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (left) is under pressure from his Pakatan Harapan alliance not to work with tainted Umno leaders such as Zahid Hamidi. PHOTOS: PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT, UMNO

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has denied he was the person speaking on the phone with a man who was said to be Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in an audio clip that had gone viral.

"Tonight, not only do I want to refute (the authenticity of the recording), but it's clear that the country's leadership is worried and will use any tricks, threats, and bribes. When those fail, they spread lies," Datuk Seri Anwar said in a video clip accompanying his tweet on the issue.

He was speaking on Wednesday evening (April 7) at an event organised by his political party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

"As Zahid has denied (the audio clip), I too, tonight, deny it," Mr Anwar said.

Zahid had said in a statement on Wednesday: "I vehemently deny the existence of the conversation such as in the audio recording. In fact, I'd like to stress that there was no conversation between me and Datuk Seri Anwar after the recent Umno AGM."

In the four-minute audio clip, two men are heard exchanging praises and pleasantries, and joking over the handling of the Umno annual general assembly (AGM) on March 28, where Zahid had branded those in Umno who worked with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as "hypocrites" and "traitors".

In the recording, the man who sounds like Mr Anwar says it is his first time listening in to the Umno assembly in 22 years, to which the other man responds: "Don't worry, that is only tactical."

The clip doesn't contain any political plots, but can still be embarrassing for both sides.

Zahid has denied working with Mr Anwar to topple the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin.

And Umno has decided not to work with Mr Anwar or the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is a member of an opposition alliance led by Mr Anwar.

On the other hand, Mr Anwar is under pressure from his Pakatan Harapan alliance not to work with tainted Umno leaders, such as Zahid, who face graft charges in court.

At the AGM last month, Umno resolved to leave the PN government as soon as the general election is called, and to stop working with PM Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

Mr Anwar said in the video attached to his tweet: "They want to use this (audio clip) to fight Umno. They want to use my so-called conversation with Datuk Seri Zahid for Bersatu to attack the Umno leadership.

"This is not me."

Mr Anwar added: "Fortunately, our loyal friends, DAP and Amanah, are not fooled by such slander."

Mr Anwar's PKR, the DAP and Amanah are members of the opposition Pakatan alliance.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.