Two alleged gay sex, two decades apart and Dr M’s two contrasting reaction — Thangaratnam Vellu

JUNE 13 — As the nation is rocked by yet another sex video clip purportedly involving Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (who has since denied the claim), it is most unfortunate that the Prime Minister has made the situation even murkier. As PM, he should have helped lower the political temperature, not heighten political anxiety.

His reaction to a serious allegation involving a senior member of the Cabinet had raised a lot of eyebrows and reeks of double standards. Despite a confession by Haziq Aziz and clips showing indiscretion purportedly by the Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was quick to pooh-pooh the claim.

Contrast this with Dr Mahathir’s swift and strong action back in 1998 when he had sacked the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the Deputy Prime Minister, also purportedly for the latter’s alleged homosexual activity.

Then, using whatever government machinery at his disposal, including the police and the media, the then fourth PM went all out to decimate the political career of Anwar. Armed special forces in balaclava stormed Anwar’s house in Bukit Damansara and arrested the one-time heir-apparent to Dr Mahathir.

Under detention, no less than the then Inspector General of Police landed Anwar blows, leading to the infamous “black eye”. Anwar was convicted and served consecutive (not concurrent, as was the norm) jail sentences. The international media had then described the trial as “trumped-up charges”.

In Azmin’s case, Dr Mahathir’s reaction was a far cry from the heavy handedness he had employed against Anwar two decades earlier. To be fair, Azmin is innocent until proven otherwise in court.

But Dr Mahathir should realise that Azmin is not only subjected to legal processes such as redress in the court of law, but also the court of public opinion. Ministers must not only be clean, but be seen to be clean.

The confession by Haziq and the video clips, while inconclusive to incriminate Azmin, would have raised public doubts about the latter’s integrity. With Pakatan Harapan taking the moral high ground when it comes to integrity, the least Dr Mahathir could have done was to ask Azmin to take leave pending probes by the authorities.

Any leaders facing similar allegations in developed countries would have done the same. If Azmin is cleared of any wrongdoings, he could return to the Cabinet, his head held higher than before.

But Dr Mahathir, through his action or lack of, appeared to have taken a political stance. The overt backing for PKR No 2 Azmin is against the backdrop of the internal PKR feud between him and his party boss Anwar — a feud that took a turn for the worse since Latheefa Koya’s recent appointment as MACC boss.

As PM, Dr Mahathir’s contrasting behaviour to two alleged homosexual acts some two decades apart has only heightened public suspicion and anxiety. At a time when we need to draw more investors and shore up the economy, such pointless political uncertainty is something we can do without.  

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.