Leaked sex videos purporting to show a potential successor to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad with another man have deepened rifts within the ruling coalition and raised concerns of a turbulent transition from the 93-year-old leader.
The sex videos, which are allegedly of Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, were widely distributed to journalists and politicians via WhatsApp last week.
Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia and in the past, Anwar Ibrahim, who Mahathir has named as his successor, has spent about a decade in jail under the law.
Azmin, who is said to be close to Mahathir, denied he was in the videos, saying they were a “nefarious plot” to end his political career.
In a video posted on Facebook last week, Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz, an aide at the time to a deputy minister in Azmin’s party, claimed that he was one of the men in the video and the other was Azmin.
Haziq was arrested last week and later released on police bail. He has been sacked from his post.
The episode has sharpened the focus on whether Mahathir would stick to a promise before last year’s general election to hand over power to Anwar and the potential for political instability in Malaysia.
The uncertainty threatens to disrupt already stuttering efforts to revive a struggling economy, including Mahathir’s pre-election promise to cut mounting government debt, a key benchmark of reform success for investors and ratings agencies.
Azmin is a central figure in stabilizing public finances.
A close aide of Mahathir said that the veteran leader, who is often referred to by the honorific “Tun,” would stick to the pre-election agreement unless it was taken out of his hands by a shift in consensus within the Pakatan Harapan alliance.
“Tun is prepared to fulfill his promise,” the aide said, asking not to be named due the sensitivity of the matter. “Of course, if Pakatan Harapan, or the people, want someone else, then that’s different.”
Mahathir dismissed the sex videos as “fake” last week, angering Anwar’s camp, who felt he should wait until the police had investigated, people close to Anwar said.
Mahathir’s office did not respond to queries on whether he has been priming Azmin as a potential successor and on the rising tensions in the coalition.
Six senior sources within the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition said that Azmin, a 54-year-old father of six, has been targeted because he is seen as a rival to Anwar.
On Tuesday, Azmin said that he was convinced the videos were the work of insiders in the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party, the biggest component of the Pakatan alliance.
Anwar and Azmin are the president and deputy president of the PKR.
Azmin’s office declined to comment further.
Anwar has said that it was “slander” to suggest he had anything to do with the leaked footage. His office declined to comment further.
Anwar was fired as Mahathir’s deputy prime minister in 1998 before he was slapped with sodomy and corruption charges, souring their relationship until they formed an unlikely alliance ahead of a shock victory in last year’s election.
“The infighting and the attacks against Azmin could potentially strengthen the case for Mahathir to delay the transition or serve out a full government term,” said Adib Zalkalpi, director at political risk consultancy Bower Group Asia.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of