Pakatan under the cosh as Anwar fights sex scandal

(The Malaysian Insider) – The prognosis for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s political career appear grim after the emergence yesterday of a video which allegedly shows him having sex with an unidentified woman.

Political analysts say it will also complicate Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Sarawak campaign and its efforts to arrest a slide in popularity.

They said that while the allegations remain unproven and the video’s source murky, the all but certain eventual leak of the recording onto the Internet will likely dent Anwar’s image.

It will also put into focus the opposition pact’s lack of a credible prime ministerial candidate.

“It might degrade Pakatan’s focus, if the leadership is not focused…it will affect the effectiveness of the coalition’s preparation for the upcoming state elections, instead of prepping on campaign issues, they will be made to address issues relating to his personal affairs,” independent analyst Ibrahim Suffian told The Malaysian Insider.

The Merdeka Center director said that the battle for public perception over Anwar’s image as a leader depended on whether or not the sex video was made available to the public.

But he cautioned that Anwar was in a lose-lose situation no matter what happened.

“In a lot of ways, it will be a lose-lose situation. If the public gets access to it, and if they become convinced that it’s him, it will be bad for him.

“Even if they don’t believe that it’s him the chances of Anwar coming out of this unaffected is unlikely,” said Ibrahim.

Anwar has been repeatedly accused of having affairs culminating in two criminal charges of sodomy in the past 13 years, one of which he is still on trial for.

“Sometimes too many attacks can also be bad,” said Ibrahim..

PR leaders were on the defensive yesterday, denying that man in the video was Anwar, almost immediately after the video was screened to selected journalists by a shadowy figure who only identified himself as “Datuk T.”

“Datuk T” had said that the video was taken from closed-circuit television camera recordings found in a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar has himself denied that he was the man, and called the emergence of the video recording a “scurrilous attack” against him, his family and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

This has not been the first time the opposition leader has been accused of having affairs, but analysts like Ibrahim say the latest accusation might prove to be the breaking point for the federal opposition.

Anwar was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998 and charged and convicted of sodomy. He spent six years in prison before the country’s top court overturned the conviction in 2004.

After his release, Anwar led his PKR, DAP and PAS to record gains in Election 2008, denying Barisan Nasional (BN) its traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority and cemented the three parties’ status as serious challengers for power with the formation of the PR pact.

But he was arrested later the same year and charged again in court on another sodomy accusation involving a former male aide, a charge he has denied.

USM political scientist Dr Sivamurugan Pandian also echoed Ibrahim’s views, and charged that the latest scandal could very well affect how “fence-sitters” vote.

“The last thing Pakatan needs right now is to face this, especially with this timing.

“Anwar is a captain who can connect both PAS and DAP, but now he is being seen as more of a liability as he is facing a series of crises which have affected PR,” Sivamurugan told The Malaysian Insider.

“There is also the matter of whether PAS and DAP would want to fully support Anwar now.”