It was clearly a joke, I never said ‘barua’, Anwar insists

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today denied using a derogatory term in a conversation with fellow Pakatan Harapan leaders, warning his opponents not to hurl accusations at him in the aftermath of a video clip circulating on social media of him apparently mispronouncing the Malay word for dignity.

“This is called stupid politics,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today when asked if he had said “maruah” or “barua”.

“Don’t accuse me. It’s clear that it was a joke with the prime minister and Mat Sabu,” he added, referring to Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.

He added that the remark was made in the spirit of the Malay Dignity Congress or Kongres Maruah Melayu on Sunday which he had not attended.

In the clip, Anwar is heard jokingly telling Mohamad that Mahathir had become more spirited after attending the congress.

The word “maruah” was however heard as “barua”, a derogatory Malay expression which means “pimp”, usually used in a political context.

This led some to question if the PKR chief was deliberately mocking the recent gathering of Malay leaders in Shah Alam.

Mahathir had attended the event despite calls for him to give it a miss. The prime minister later said that as a Malay, he had the right to attend the gathering, which also saw senior leaders from Amanah, PAS and Umno, as well as PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali attending.

Anwar later said he did not attend the gathering as the invitation came too late.

When questioned by reporters, Mohamad said he was unsure which word Anwar had used in their conversation.

“You’ll have to ask him,” he added. “He was far away from me when we came out of the meeting.”

Mohamad, the defence minister, was also grilled over the issue by Barisan Nasional MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, with Ismail Mohamed Said (BN-Kuala Krau) asking for the exact word used.

“Barua or maruah?” he asked.

However, Mohamad who was answering a question related to his ministry told him not to interrupt.

When questioned by other BN MPs, he said the word had to be pronounced properly.