A plot, one too many

pic by TMR FILE

PARADOXES, some ironic, are in abundance in the ongoing saga of the sex video clips which attempt to implicate Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture), deputy president of PKR and the economic affairs minister.

The way it is panning out promises more of such, making it very doubtful that it can end amicably.

Who would have imagined that PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was accused of similar transgressions more than two decades ago, would today stand and urge Azmin to quit his Cabinet post, if he was the person in the video.

Anwar too had demanded that the authorities reveal whether the video clips were authentic or otherwise, much to the chagrin of Azmin’s men.

When Anwar was sacked in 1998 for alleged sexual misdemeanour, Azmin who was his private secretary then was among those in the forefront, defending Anwar and dismissing the accusation as false, conspiratorial and meant to destroy Anwar’s political career.

Azmin too had deflected the accusations on similar grounds that it was a conspiracy to end his political career.

Lest people forget, Azmin was among those who ended up under the now defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) for inciting and rallying the public to oppose Anwar’s sacking and later on his incarceration.

For the record, Azmin had stood by Anwar when he was accused of a couple more misdemeanours since then.

If Anwar’s sacking had caused a mutiny in Umno (he was then Umno deputy president), his call for Azmin’s resignation is threatening a mutiny as well, and of course within PKR, when more than 26 party leaders, comprising PKR Supreme Council members, MPs and state assemblymen, signed a declaration censuring Anwar for not standing firm behind Azmin and instead suggesting his resignation.

Azmin’s reaction was equally succinct when he told Anwar to look into the mirror before calling for his resignation.

In return, Anwar, in a show of force, lined up party leaders and declared that he had the numbers to support him for the Prime Ministership and that there was no reason for him to feel threatened by Azmin.

Amid all these, looms the large shadow of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who, despite attempts to drag him into the vitriol, seemed to have taken a somewhat detached position albeit dismissing the video tapes as political manoeuvrings to undermine Azmin.

Yesterday, when asked about the public spat between Anwar and Azmin, his reply that he did not want to get dragged into a PKR internal matter and that “he has too much work to attend to” did not reveal much of what he actually felt.

Some have suggested that Dr Mahathir was inconsistent in the way he’s handling Azmin’s case as opposed to when Anwar faced similar accusations in 1997/98.

But Dr Mahathir’s backers said his reaction on Azmin’s was almost eerily similar to that when a statutory declaration accusing Anwar of gross sexual misdemeanour was first brought to his attention in 1997, when Dr Mahathir was prime minister the first round.

Without a pause, he had then dismissed it as a plot to topple his deputy (Anwar was then the deputy prime minister).

It was only a year later, after several police reports and his own “investigations”, did he act on the accusations. The rest is of course water under the bridge.

What is different this time around?

Azmin is only a minister in Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet, not the anointed successor, although speculations are rife that he is the preferred one over Anwar.

Dr Mahathir had never affirmed these, but pundits believe there were basis to the perceptions, despite Dr Mahathir’s repeated re-affirmation that he would hand over the mantle to Anwar as agreed upon among the Pakatan Harapan partners.

Anwar, though outside the Cabinet, has his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the deputy prime minister, perceived to be his seat warmer and expected to relinquish the No 2 position when Anwar assumed the top position.

And today, Dr Mahathir and Anwar are not in the same party as two decades ago, when they both helmed the top and No 2 positions respectively. Umno then was the leading party in the Barisan Nasional coalition in every sense of the word whereby, partners will not be able to interfere in Umno’s internal affairs even if it affects national interest.

But today, Pakatan Harapan is about equal partnership even if one party has more seats than the other, and the equation as well as the dynamics can change exponentially.

And Anwar is not the victim anymore as then, who managed to raise the ire and sympathy of the masses over his sacking, though he has not lost his oratory ability to rally a crowd.

But Parti Amanah Negara’s man Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s move to demand that video tapes of Anwar’s alleged sexual misdemeanour should also be investigated to determine their authenticity on grounds that these tapes are still being used to undermine Anwar, and that should not be allowed for the person styled to be the eighth prime minister. Such a suggestion throws another dimension to the saga.

It solemnly seems to be saying that glass house dwellers should not throw stones.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.