Gay sex involving politicians is not gutter politics

The explosive news linking a senior politician with gay sex has been described as “gutter politics”. The truth is, it is anything but that.

First, let’s establish some common ground: nobody wants gutter politics, not least in Malaysia Baru. The truth is, there are political and security ramifications if the allegations are true.

In June 2015, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in an interview with The Australian, had said that a gay leader would be susceptible to political blackmail.

Different nations have different cultural values. In some western countries, it is okay to be openly gay or bisexual. In Malaysia, a large segment of the population still frown upon people with such sexual orientation.

A senior Cabinet member who hasn’t come out of the closet, so to speak, can be a national and security threat.

The then Soviet Union was fond of laying honey traps and they even had a name for it — kompromat. Former Indonesian president Sukarno, who had a reputation for enjoying the company of women, was supposedly a target of the Russian intelligence operatives.

In an era when international geopolitics is increasingly personality-driven, as opposed to being dictated by military strength, it is imperative that a national leader must not be easily cowed by foreign influences.

In the US, a huge segment of its population have misgivings over Donald Trump’s cosy ties with Russia.

Many suspect this is due to Trump’s previous business dealings with Russian oligarchs or even the so-called “pee tape” allegedly involving Russian prostitutes in a posh hotel in Moscow in 2013.

Besides geopolitics, whether or not a minister is involved in gay sex is also a matter of public interest. It is true that those who hold public office ought to be doing their jobs, not just throwing dirt at each other.

But a senior politician filmed on tape having gay sex (if indeed true) has broken a law in Malaysia, which may lead to his disqualification as a public office holder.

The people have the right to know if this is so, just as they have the right to know whether a minister has faked his academic credentials or has absconded with public funds.

Look beyond the so-called “Bangsar Bubble” and there are plenty out there who have reservations about having a minister with such sexual orientation.

Until and unless our society has evolved to a stage where homosexuality is accepted, public office bearers just have to live up to the prevailing moral norms, whether they like it or not.

The allegations against the minister can be construed in a lot of ways, but “gutter politics” is not one of them.

Mohd Hisham Lufti is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.