Azmin warned of tech-age ‘poison pen letters’ to stop his meteoric rise

Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, who was recently the target of allegations that he and his wife have hundreds of millions stashed in overseas banks.

PETALING JAYA: There is a systematic plan to scuttle Mohamed Azmin Ali’s rise at the federal level, warns a source close to the ruling coalition, adding that the former Selangor menteri besar is now in his strongest political position after years in the wilderness.

The source said with PKR elections due in August, Azmin’s “political enemies” were “working overtime” to ensure he was checked.

“This is part of Malay politics. Every time the party elections near, the top leaders will be busy rebutting allegations, many of them personal,” the source told FMT.

The PKR elections are being held for the first time since the party and its partners in Pakatan Harapan won the May 9 polls.

This time around, with Azmin seen holding a senior post in the federal government, the source said he is likely to be on the receiving end of “poisonous claims” more than any other PKR leader.

The source said recent allegations that Azmin and his wife had stashed away hundreds of millions of ringgit overseas were only part of a larger plan to “stop Azmin’s meteoric rise”, from just a party leader in 2014 to what has been described as a Cabinet post “second only to the prime minister”.

It said Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s trust in Azmin, coupled with the years of friendship despite being in different political camps, was not going down well with Azmin’s enemies.

“When Tun extracted him out of the state, it was a signal of Azmin’s importance to the present government.

“His economic affairs portfolio is no doubt at the same level of seat once occupied by Mahathir’s most trusted confidante,” he said, in an apparent reference to Daim Zainuddin, who now heads the government’s top advisory team, the Council of Eminent Persons.

Azmin, 53, was the political secretary to Anwar Ibrahim before the latter’s dramatic sacking in 1998. Since then, he has remained loyal to Anwar and his PKR party while also maintaining a personal relationship with Mahathir.

Anwar’s sacking then had to do with allegations of immorality and abuse of power, claims that were first made through what were known as “poison pen letters”. Such anonymous letters were the norm two decades ago, normally distributed to Umno delegates at divisional meetings and general assemblies.

The source said the culture of character assassination that once pervaded Umno is also abound in current ruling parties, adding that it was a bane of Malay politics and was blocking good talents from taking over the leadership.

“But now the blog has taken over the role of the poison pen letter, and in a more venomous way due to its wide and easy reach,” said the source.

The source said the attacks by a blog called “Toyol of Selangor” on Azmin and his wife were not new.

“In the past, Shamsidar Taharin was accused of immorality. The allegation was disproved in a court of law. It’s this same culture that stopped Anwar’s rise, and it is also the same tactic being used to stop Azmin,” said the source.

Azmin has rubbished the blog’s allegation that he has over RM300 million deposited in banks overseas.

“I do not entertain gutter politics,” he told reporters last month.

“If anyone has strong evidence, the individual concerned can go to the authorities so that investigations can be carried out.”

I don’t have millions stashed overseas, says Azmin