KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Twenty-three members of the PKR central committee jointly rebuked president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today for suggesting his deputy, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, needed to resign as minister over an ongoing sex scandal.
Led by vice-presidents Zuraida Kamaruddin, Chua Tian Chang and Ali Biju, the group said Anwar’s public comments about Azmin were inappropriate and predicated on assertions that remain unproven.
“He should be focussing on the key issue here, which is that there is an organised attempt to use gutter politics to bring down our leaders.
“He should be more concerned about the criminal offences committed by this group who have systematically and widely distributed a video displaying sex acts,” they said in a joint statement.
They also reminded Anwar that he previously said Azmin need not resign over the scandal before his assertion otherwise yesterday.
Anwar should be using his position and influence to aid Azmin in the scandal, they said, and not undermine his own deputy using speculation.
Like Azmin, they also drew Anwar’s attention to his previous sex scandals and stressed that party members had steadfastly defended and rallied support around him during those episodes, citing his 2011 “Datuk T” sex video scandal as an example.
“He should remember Azmin has defended him and his family for more than 20 years against the same type of gutter politics.
“We urge Anwar as party president to stop making such divisive statements,” they said when telling him to redouble efforts towards improving PKR, Pakatan Harapan and the country’s interests.
Aside from the three vice presidents, other signatories of the statement include Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Baru Bian, Wanita PKR chief Haniza Talha, Datuk Seri Edmund Santhara, Amirudin Shaari, Datuk Rashid Hasnon, Sivarasa Rasiah, Rahimah Majid, Elizabeth Wong, Zakaria Abdul Hamid, Mohd Razlan Jalaludin, Datuk Mansor Othman, Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar, Azmizam Zaman Huri, Gan Pei Nei, Hee Loy Sian, Lee Kai Loon, Daroyah Alwi and Muhammad Hilman Idham.
They were supported by four PKR federal lawmakers Steven Chong (Tebrau), Jonathan Yasin (Ranau), Willy Mongin (Puncak Borneo) and Maria Chin Abdullah (Petaling Jaya).
Another PKR vice-president, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, appended his signature to the joint statement after it was released.
After Anwar’s political secretary was arrested on Tuesday in connection with Azmin’s scandal, the PKR president came out to say his deputy should relinquish his economic affairs portfolio in the Cabinet if the sex videos are genuine.
Yesterday, Azmin responded angrily to Anwar’s suggestion by telling the latter to “look in the mirror”.
The open exchanges have brought to fore the undercurrent of hostilities between the two main PKR factions that had previously been kept in check and away from public view.
Speculation that the sex scandal is part of PKR’s internal intrigues has grown with the police’s arrest of several party leaders on suspicion of distributing the clips allegedly featuring Azmin.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that he considered the real crime in the scandal to be the conspiracy to “bring down Azmin.”