Malaysia Ruling Party Members Lash Out at Anwar Over Sex Video Comments

Senior members of Malaysia’s ruling People’s Justice Party called on leader Anwar Ibrahim to stop making “divisive statements,” the clearest sign yet of divisions over whether he should succeed Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

The statement, signed by 23 of 64 members of the party’s supreme council, comes after Anwar called on his deputy, Minister of Economy Affairs Azmin Ali, to resign if sex videos allegedly featuring him are proven to be true. The note was also backed by five other members of parliament.

“We are of the view that this statement is inappropriate and is based on speculative assertions,” the politicians said in the statement. “He should be focusing on the key issue here, which is that there is an organized attempt to use gutter politics to bring down political leaders.”

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition have presented a united front in their support for Mahathir, even as internal rifts occasionally spill into the open over who should succeed him. Yet it’s split into two sides — one backing Anwar and one backing Azmin — according to a ranking official within the coalition who asked not to be identified. The prime minister has consistently said Anwar will succeed him, while refraining on setting a date to the transition.

Mahathir declined to comment on the matter when asked by reporters on Thursday. “I don’t have to think about this,” he said, when asked if the rift is a problem for Pakatan Harapan.

“There is a real possibility however that the PKR is split into two different parties. That’s the worst case scenario,” said James Chin, Southeast Asia governance director for the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania. “The best case is for Anwar to take back his statements and get some reconciliation.”

Gutter Politics
The allegations against Azmin — that he was featured in videos showing him and another man engaged in sexual acts, echo the accusations against Anwar that led to his imprisonment. The People’s Justice Party, known as PKR, called out this history, saying the party — including Azmin — had defended Anwar back in 2011 when police declared sex videos implicating him were genuine.

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, a senior lawmaker in the party who is aligned with Anwar, said “Anwar’s statement is on point and consistent as the party had been dragged through this episode for some time,” referring to the accusations against Azmin.

Both Azmin and Anwar have consistently denied the allegations.

A Kuala Lumpur court put out an order Wednesday for Anwar’s political secretary to be remanded for four days to help the police in their investigation into the videos, The Malaysian Insight reported, citing the court ruling.

“Whatever comes from the investigation, the guy looking a lot stronger politically will be Mahathir,” University of Tasmania’s Chin said.

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