Anwar Ibrahim has (surprise, surprise!) denied allegations of sexual misconduct against him and the PKR president's private secretary has lodged a police report regarding the claims. But the country's touted next PM's statement seems just a little weird. Meanwhile, it's a weekend of political meetings and congresses, both official and unofficial; a global report has hit out against Putrajaya for the continued use of oppressive laws; and a minister denies the existence of a deep state within the civil service, despite evidence otherwise.

Anwar: I'm not on Santa's 'Naughty' list

It wasn't me: The Anwar edition

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has “strongly denied” allegations of sexual misconduct against him by a former staffer.

Calling the claims “baseless” slander, the PM-forever-in-waiting said that on the date mentioned in a statutory declaration by his accuser, Muhammed Yusoff Rawther, he had been campaigning in Port Dickson for the by-election he eventually won, attended a function in KL commemorating the birth of Mahatma Gandhi and then returned to the campaign trail.

Anwar said he knew about the claims months ago and questioned the timing of it, seeing as how the assault had purportedly taken place a year ago and Yusoff waited till a few days before the PKR National Congress before saying anything.

But if Anwar knew about it months ago because some people had tried to influence or bribe him, then why did he sit on it for so long? Surely a canny politician – one who’s gone through two sex scandals before this – could’ve read the tea leaves and seen what was coming. 

The timing of the release, before the party congress, is immaterial. The point is that this accusation existed and was hanging over Anwar, and he knew about it. Surely Anwar would have wanted to grasp the initiative and take control of the narrative?

Anwar also said there had been attempts to influence or bribe him in relation to the allegations, which is weird. Influence him or his decisions, we can see. But why bribe him? That’s just like telling a person: “Hey. I know you committed a crime. Let me give you some money.”

All in all, questions of innocence or guilt aside, Anwar’s statement just wasn’t very coherent. 

Anyhoo, Anwar’s private secretary Shukri Saad later lodged a police report over the allegations. Shukri said the claims were part of a conspiracy to stop Anwar from becoming the next PM. 

And just in case you missed it, guess who else came out swinging in Anwar’s defence? None other than PKR deputy prez Azmin Ali, who himself was the subject of a sex scandal earlier this year. Despite recently being at loggerheads, Anwar’s one-time protege promised that the entire party would defend Anwar against gutter politics.

Toe the line, or else!

Anwar was clearly in fighting form yesterday, going in hard on recalcitrant PKR members, warning that anyone stepping out of line will be sacked from the party.

This included any attempt to hold a “parallel” meeting in KL (PKR’s official national congress is currently underway in Melaka) this weekend, an act that would be considered sabotage. Even those attending it, said to be one by supporters of party deputy president Azmin Ali, would get the boot.

Anwar’s warning came after PKR Youth vice-chief Nazree Yunus on Wednesday confirmed a “meeting” would take place this weekend in KL, with a motion of no confidence against Anwar rumoured to be on the agenda. He had said that Azmin and his acolyte Zuraida Kamaruddin would attend the meeting.

Later, Anwar and Azmin had a powwow, during which it was decided that the latter would open both the Youth and Women’s wings’ meetings at the national congress. 

Azmin arrived at the Melaka event to a hero’s welcome, and opened the two wings’ meetings at a joint ceremony. In his speech, the PKR deputy prez skirted party issues and instead focused on how the party should move forward.

Azmin said PKR should be the “Rock of Gibraltar” for Pakatan. He vaguely touched on his meeting with Anwar, saying that despite differences of opinion, “the party” had proven to resolve issues in a good manner.

And most interestingly, Azmin vowed there would be only one congress. Shortly after, Nazree himself issued a statement saying everybody would follow the leadership’s wishes. 

So all in all, this has turned out to be a pointless political game of chicken made up of a lot of bluster and drama. The leaders have come out looking dandy while Nazree is left carrying the can and seeming a little silly.

Politics. Gotta love it, eh?

The fallen are looking to arise

At the same time that PKR is holding its national congress, fallen king Umno is also holding its AGM.

There was a time when mainstream media would send dozens of reporters each to cover the Umno AGM. These days, thanks to the wonder that was GE14, it’s far less (and we can tell you that journos are all the happier for it).

Umno is still important, of course, as the party remains the dominant force in the opposition, whether we’re talking about BN or Muafakat Nasional, the formalised cooperation with PAS.

At the start of the AGM, the party’s wings met, with Wanita chief Noraini Ahmad saying it’s time the women’s head be on equal standing with the deputy president. A formal motion on the matter will be brought before the party’s main AGM today.

We can’t support that enough. It is about time. The women’s wing has been the backbone of the party for the longest time and glass ceilings need to be smashed.

But the majority of the discussions were on Muafakat Nasional, with the heads of both the Youth and Puteri wings focusing their speeches on the cooperation with PAS.

Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said it was time to move on from BN and embrace the “Muafakat Nasional era”. Saying the cooperation should be formally institutionalised (we think it’s some of our politicians who should be institutionalised!), he said it won’t be a totally new concept as it would be a continuation of the power-sharing concept BN had been practising all this time.

Puteri chief Zahida Zarik Khan also took up the theme, saying Muafakat Nasional won’t oppress anyone, but would instead create a moderate environment for all. She said this was made clear in the Tg Piai by-election when Malays united to help ensure a big victory for BN’s non-Malay candidate.

The focus on Muafakat Nasional was expected. After all, the cooperation between Umno and PAS has led to victories at several by-elections. It can’t be denied that a united BN-PAS would be a formidable opposition to Pakatan.

But we could also be hearing the death knell of Barisan Nasional, which was born out of the Alliance, the coalition behind our country’s independence and one which was far more plural and representative than what Muafakat Nasional will turn out to be.

Don't discount people power, Pakatan

Even as we talk about any sort of possible BN-PAS formal cooperation or coalition, we’re not sure if that is even needed.

Pakatan looks like it’s imploding, what with the whole PM succession issue, Anwar-Azmin spat and all that jazz. And the fact the ruling coalition has failed to keep many of its election pledges, particularly the promise to repeal oppressive laws, doesn’t quite help either as more and more people (read: voters) are getting frustrated.

In the wake of last year’s impressive win at the national polls, Civicus Monitor, a global alliance working towards strengthening civil societies worldwide, labeled Malaysia one of the “bright spots” in Asia where civic freedoms are concerned. However, this year our ratings tanked, with Putrajaya standing accused of having obstructed civic space by the continued use of certain laws.

The December 2019 “People Power Under Attack” report is based on the extent of the country’s efforts to protect and respect three key civil liberties – freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression – for members of the public and civil society. But according to the report, Malaysia still continues to use restrictive laws, such as criminal defamation, to civil liberties.

Among the cases cited was the sentencing to 10 years and 10 months in jail of a man who had posted something insulting about the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

Pakatan needs to make good on its promises or it will be labeled BN 2.0, especially in the eyes of the global community. Worse still, if it doesn’t do it, it will be a one-term government as the people turn their backs on the coalition.

The Tg Piai by-election was a sure sign of things to come should the people feel they are getting a raw deal. The people delivered a protest vote, sending BN candidate Wee Jeck Seng to Parliament with a flattering 15,000-vote majority.

The entire report on the 2019 “People Power Under Attack” can be read here.

How deep is your state?

Liew Vui Keong says there have been no cases of “intangible defiance” by civil servants against the government, denying the existence of a “deep state”.

Saying civil servants must be loyal to King and country, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said government servants must be neutral in carrying out their duties. But in practically the same breath, Liew says there was constant monitoring of the civil service to ensure they remain in check.

So how exactly does this prove to us that a deep state — or a state within a state — doesn’t exist? 

Former Malaysian ambassador to oodles of countries, Dennis Ignatius, has an interesting comment piece on the deep state. He maintains such a state does exist within the service, a highly-politicised bureaucracy which is a leftover from the BN era.

It’s perhaps not intent on destabilising the government, but the deep state can be a huge difference when it comes to the polls. Basically, the highly-respected former diplomat says Pakatan ministers, or at least the old hands like PM Maddey Mohamad and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, know about the existence of such a deep state, and in fact contributed to its creation during their time running the BN government.

However, he says these ministers are not going to acknowledge the existence of a deep state nor do anything about it as they fear losing a large voter bank. You can read his insightful comment piece here.

“Sex is God's joke on human beings.”

- Bette Midler -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has directed a House committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Trump will be only the third President in US history to be impeached. MAGA!
  • Meanwhile, Washington is considering sending several thousand more troops to the Middle East to deter Iranian aggression.
  • France has been paralysed by its biggest nationwide strike in years, with the school and public transportation severely disrupted over President Emmanuel Macron’s planned pension reforms.
  • A staggering 140,000-plus people, mostly children, were killed by measles last year in what experts are calling an outrage and an easily-preventable tragedy.
  • Saudi Aramco has raised $25.6 billion in an IPO in Riyadh, the biggest share sale in history. The Saudi-owned oil giant will be valued at $1.7 TRILLION when trading begins, making it the world’s most valuable company.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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