PORT DICKSON: “It felt good.” This was how Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan described his encounter with his former “boss”.
He met PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim at the Port Dickson Municipal Council (MPPD) today.
Saiful was present to submit his nomination papers to be a candidate in the seven-cornered contest for the Port Dickson by-election.
When met by reporters, Saiful said he wanted to move on from his past controversies with Anwar, which made headlines a decade ago when the 33-year-old claimed that he was sodomised by Anwar.
When asked if there were times he felt tired of being overshadowed by controversy or Anwar, Saiful only said: “I do not know.”
He reiterated that his venture into the Port Dickson by-election was not motivated by revenge.
“It happened in the past. I believe justice has been served and he (Anwar) has served time. I will not use whatever that had happened between us as election capital.
“Inside (the nomination hall) we just said ‘hello’ to each other. There is nothing wrong with going against your former teacher,” said Saiful.
Saiful also denied Anwar was a factor in his decision to stand in Port Dickson when asked why he chose to contest for the parliamentary seat, instead of in the previous by-elections.
“Port Dickson is a good platform for young politicians to grow,” he said, reiterating that he was not motivated by revenge.
Saiful added that he wanted to run for Port Dickson in order to represent a town which used to be his old playground.
In an immediate response, Anwar said he was not concerned with the issue of vengeance brought into the contest by Saiful.
“Whether or not there is, that is up to him. I don’t want to be part of that.
“I just want to focus on my work, and the leaders have taken the same stand.
“My hope is that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I will be able to help in Parliament and, at the same time, be Port Dickson’s voice,” he told reporters at MPPD.
In June 2008, Saiful, a former political aide to Anwar, lodged a police report claiming that he had been sodomised by Anwar in a condominium in Kuala Lumpur.
In February 2015, the Federal Court upheld Anwar’s conviction and imposed a three-year jail term for sodomising Saiful.
Anwar, however, was released after the May 9 polls and later received a royal pardon from the king on May 16.
While Anwar took a stand to not question Saiful’s decision to contest, his supporters however “boo-ed” Saiful when his name was announced by the returning officer, Khairy Maamor, upon accepting his nomination papers.
When asked, Anwar said he would advise against such “acts” of ridiculing Saiful.
“I will advise them, of course.
“It’s easy for me to forgive and move on, but we must also appreciate the concern of many who are deeply hurt and suffered in the process,” he said.
With six candidates having their nomination papers accepted, Anwar admitted that the Port Dickson by-election will not be an easy contest.
“But whether it will be a close battle, I’m not sure of that yet. I will work hard together with PH’s component party leaders,” he said.
Asked also what he could bring to Port Dickson, Anwar said he would explain in due course.
“But my focus will certainly be on development issues that would cater to the welfare of various classes of society and making PD a more effective tourist destination.
“We must create job opportunities. Education will also be my focus and I will work with the government.”
Anwar also said he had taken note of former Port Dickson MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah’s concerns to cater for the welfare of armed forces veterans.
In the 14th general election, Danyal won with 36,225 votes while VS Mogan of Barisan Nasional received 18,515 votes and PAS’ Mahfuz Roslan garnered 6,594 votes.
Polling day is set for Oct 13, while early voting is set on Oct 9.
Meanwhile, when met by reporters, former Umno leader Isa Samad said he was willing to quit Umno to contest as Port Dickson is his hometown.
“This is my hometown. This is my base. So the seat is vacant. And Umno refuses to stand. So I have to take this opportunity to stand as a Port Dickson native,” he said.
Asked about speculations that Umno is actually backing him, Isa said there were some members who will support him.
“I think some of the Umno members will support me and other people also.
“My focus is to win the election. After the election, I will think about rejoining Umno,” he said.