Why are we still talking about the gay sex scandal?

Sex and politics: two charged words that are powerful when they stand alone and absolutely earth-shattering when used together.

The world has seen many instances where sex is used in politics – to slander a politician’s name, to ruin a candidate’s reputation, or even just to raise that drop of doubt surrounding a government official’s moral fibre.

Right now, Malaysia is flooded with news of the latest sex scandal and there are no signs of the downpour letting up.

As homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, the accusation can have both moral and legal implications.

One of the first men to suffer at the hands of this lethal tool was Anwar Ibrahim. It started in 1999 when Anwar was found guilty of sodomy and corruption (these charges always go hand-in-hand.) Of course, he still claims that it was a ploy of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to end his political career before he could spill the beans on the corruption eroding the government of the time.

In 2015, he was once again convicted of sodomy against his former aide, Mohammad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, just days before he was supposed to run in a state election.

Now here we are: it’s 2019 and a supposed “new era” has come to Malaysia with a new (and old) prime minister, and reforms that are meant to weed out corruption, increase transparency and improve human rights.

Malaysia should not be mired in a rerun of sex scandals which dominate its politics, yet with all the new reforms, why does it look like a repetition of old tricks? This news of a homosexual sex tape implicating a politician is eerily familiar, only this time around it is aimed at Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali.

It all started with the buzz of a homosexual sex video and a WhatsApp group filled with important people. It did not take long before Haziq Aziz came forward claiming to be one of the men in the video and naming Azmin as the other man.

And would you believe it, he also claimed that Azmin is corrupt and not fit for a position of leadership.

It seems like Azmin is learning what it felt like to be Anwar all those years ago, stuck in a scandal that was blown up and bounced around like a circus act.

He broke his silence on the matter soon after, denying the claims and stating: “I utterly condemn this brand of gutter politics. It has no place in this era of New Malaysia.”

And he has a point. The New Malaysia has far more pressing concerns than a sex scandal and the fact that this issue is still dominating headlines is absurd. One Malaysian man expressed his frustration and disappointment at the drawn-out controversy: “Pakatan has to address this issue quickly. As voters, we are sick and tired of politicking. We need to see results and promises delivered,” he said.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang also made his stand known and his concern over the turning agenda of the Parliament meeting next month. “Instead of the July 2019 meeting of Parliament being known as a ‘Haziq’ sex video session, I would like to see it be known as the IPCMC Parliament,” he said in a statement.

There’s no doubt this is a juicy story, and sometimes it’s fun to focus on entertaining news rather than real concerns. But this is not what will lead to a new, transparent and better Malaysian government.

Whether or not there is any validity in the accusations, whether the video is real, or the actors are just very convincing, why is Malaysia still obsessed with these “gutter politics?” Why haven’t those in charge wrapped up this sex scandal and moved right along to what really matters?

Alvin Tan is an FMT reader.

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