PETALING JAYA: Mohamed Azmin Ali’s sharp retort to Anwar Ibrahim’s suggestion that he resign if he’s guilty of a sex romp indicates to one political analyst that things will get nastier in the days to come, causing a delay in Anwar’s takeover of power from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia told FMT he saw Azmin’s curt comeback – “look at the man in the mirror” – as the first salvo in an open war between the PKR president and deputy president.
He said the conflict would destabilise PKR and make it unlikely for Mahathir to give up the prime minister’s post to Anwar anytime soon.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute made the same speculation, saying Mahathir now had a reason to stay on longer.
“With his party in turmoil, Anwar will not be able to challenge Mahathir even if he wants to,” he said.
Kamarul said things were not looking good for Azmin.
Referring to sex videos allegedly featuring Azmin and former Santubong PKR Youth chief Haziq Aziz, he said the popular perception, at least on social media, was that the clips were genuine.
“So, in this war, Anwar seems to have the upper hand,” he said, adding it was notable that Mahathir appeared yesterday to have distanced himself from Azmin for the first time, when he said it was up to him to decide whether he wanted take a leave of absence from his post as economic affairs minister.
Mahathir previously said the videos were possibly fake and there was no call for Azmin to resign.
Kamarul said Azmin’s response to Anwar showed that he had no intention of going down alone.
“I believe he will want to take Anwar down with him,” he said.
He added that Azmin would “know a lot” about Anwar, having served as his private secretary when he was deputy prime minister.
He also said the recent arrest of an Anwar aide over the making and airing of the video clips had created an impression that the PKR president was involved in the conspiracy even if he had nothing to do with it.
“What is certain is that this whole thing is really bad for Pakatan Harapan’s image and credibility,” he said. “The biggest winners are Umno and PAS. They just have to be patient, keep quiet and focus on bread and butter issues.”
Nine people have been arrested for distributing the clips, including Haziq, who said he was one of the two men featured in them. He named Azmin as the other man, a claim dismissed by the minister as part of a conspiracy to end his political career.
Among the others arrested was Perak PKR chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, seen as a member of Anwar’s camp in PKR.