KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim never had the intention of toppling Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Umno president some 20 years ago, the High Court was told today.
Anwar’s former private secretary Mohamed Azmin Ali said, instead, it was Anwar’s political enemies who hatched plans to remove his former boss from the party and government.
“Anwar’s political opponents were unhappy with his meteoric rise in politics and his quest to bring about change.
“They wanted to remove him to achieve their own agenda,” Azmin said when testifying for Anwar who has filed a RM100 million defamation suit against Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
Azmin, who is now Selangor Menter Besar, said Anwar never harboured the idea of challenging Mahathir for the top post during meetings with his (Anwar) political think-tanks.
He said Anwar had always regarded Mahathir as a fatherly figure and as the person who developed the country.
Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy in Umno and deputy prime minister from 1993 until he was sacked from the party for alleged sexual misconduct in September 1998.
Rumours were circulating then that Anwar was planning to take on Mahathir for the top post in the scheduled party elections in 1999.
Mahathir, the longest serving prime minister and Umno president, resigned from both positions in 2003.
Mahathir left Umno last year following irreconcilable differences with incumbent prime minister and party president Najib Razak.
Azmin said his duty, among others, was to arrange meetings for Anwar’s official functions and accommodate appointments with members of the public and party members.
The PKR deputy president also said he had kept records of Anwar’s programmes but that all annual diaries had been seized by police in 1998.
Cross examined by Khairy’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Azmin said he was appointed to the position (private secretary) on merit based on his experience and academic qualifications.
To a question by Shafee, Azmin said he did not follow Anwar to all public functions but accompanied his boss to weekly Cabinet meetings.
“I will only be absent in case of an emergency,” he added.
Anwar, 69, filed the suit against Khairy following the latter’s “main belakang” remark at a political ceramah in Lembah Pantai in 2008.
Anwar argues that the phrase means he is a homosexual, has low morals, and the capability of committing crime and vice.
The PKR de facto leader filed the defamation suit after reading what was reported in Malaysiakini and after watching a video published by the news portal.