SHAH ALAM • The Malaysian minister at the centre of a brewing sex video scandal yesterday attacked the credibility of his accuser Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz, while saying that he hardly knew the man.
"I know him from afar. He is a party member," Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali told reporters after a Hari Raya event hosted by the Selangor Economic Development Corporation, in his first comments in person on the matter. "He was a party member, then he joined the opposition (Barisan Nasional). Then after we won, he jumped back into Keadilan. This is the character of an individual who has been manipulated in this slander."
Datuk Seri Azmin had issued a statement denying his involvement on Wednesday evening, after Mr Haziq confessed on Facebook early that morning that the duo were the two men in the videos that have circulated widely since being leaked in the early hours of Tuesday.
Mr Haziq, principal private sec-retary to Deputy Primary Industries Minister Shamsul Iskandar, then posted a follow-up on Facebook yesterday morning claiming that Mr Azmin tried to cover up their three-year relationship. Mr Haziq has since been suspended from his government duties.
Mr Azmin, Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) deputy president, yesterday also called on collea-gues, especially "the party leadership", to heed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's advice to reject gutter politics.
He echoed the implied claims of internal sabotage within PKR, whose president Anwar Ibrahim is set to succeed Tun Dr Mahathir as premier before the next election.
"As mentioned by the Prime Minister, if there is a difference of opinion, if there is someone who has failed to give the public acceptable service, don't resort to dirty tactics. The advice by the Prime Minister is serious and should be heeded by all, especially the party leadership. I call our friends to take the Prime Minister's message seriously. Ultimately, we are accountable to Allah and the Malaysian public," he said.
However, when asked directly if he thought it was sabotage and if he had a culprit in mind, he replied: "I am not here to make any speculation on that. I do not want to make any accusations."
The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition had agreed that Dr Mahathir would lead the alliance into last year's election while Datuk Seri Anwar was still in jail over a controversial sodomy charge, and then hand over power to his former nemesis.
But the duo have disagreed over timelines, with Mr Anwar indicating a two-year span, while Dr Mahathir has said he will stay on to fix problems inherited from the previous regime, stepping down before the next election is due.