News analysis

Malaysia’s gay sex video: Sense of deja vu as a tried and tested political script plays out

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Malaysia's latest political scandal has a script that has withstood the test of time. More than two decades after then Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was yanked out of government with a sodomy allegation, sexual misconduct accusations are still a key weapon in the arsenal of political warlords in the Muslim-majority nation.

Videos which showed a man resembling Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and an aide to a deputy minister engaged in sexual acts in bed surfaced in a targeted leak to journalists in the wee hours of Tuesday. The mainstream media began publishing reports immediately after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad denied knowledge of the videos that afternoon, sparking what may be the start of an open warfare within the 13-month-old Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2019, with the headline Malaysia’s gay sex video: Sense of deja vu as a tried and tested political script plays out. Subscribe