I, Too, Saw The Video

Zaid Ibrahim

I did not see the the Chua Soi Lek sex tape. The former Health Minister, against all odds, overcame the embarrassment and the trauma of his infidelity. Kudos to him for his resilience. What I admire most about him was his public admission of his mistake. His willingness to come out to his supporters. To admit to the error of his ways. To ask for forgiveness from his family. Despite his private failings, he eventually regained acceptance in the wider MCA community and they re-elected him as their party president.

We politicians aren’t perfect. But the least we can do when caught with our pants down is to come clean and be honest about our failings.

All across the world, and throughout history, there have many public figures who have been implicated in these kinds of sexual scandals. They either resigned on their own volition or were forced to do so as the public expect some degree of good conduct from their leaders. Because irrespective of one’s beliefs about the interconnectedness of our private and public lives, it is an inescapable fact that it is not in the interests of the nation to have leaders who are not able to observe some degree of discipline in their personal lives. They must have the respect of the people as well as that of their colleagues, both foreign and domestic, in order to discharge their duties well. When a leader is implicated in scandal after scandal, he or she will eventually lose the respect of the people and forfeit their legitimacy as a leader.

Every time there are allegations of sexual impropriety or misconduct involving the Opposition Leader (and there are many), his allies in DAP and PAS will protect and stand by him. Due to their marriage of convenience, DAP and PAS do not demand any explanation at all from Anwar. By doing this, PKR’s partners in the Pakatan electoral pact are indicating that Anwar does not need to account to anyone for his behaviour. Instead, they will continue to accuse UMNO & BN, the Police and his political opponents as being responsible for the mischief. The folks in Pakatan are even clamouring for four qualified Muslim witnesses to the act. The sidestepping and spin carried out by Anwar’s followers is telling of the political culture that he has engendered. Anwar continues to be the subject of political conspiracy and false charges. That Anwar can do no wrong. That he is the perpetual victim.

Over the last few days, I have been reading a lot of comments from the Malaysian public about this latest sexual encounter caught on tape between a Malay politician and an unknown woman. The commentators have said many things. They believe that the tape was likely doctored. They say that it was motivated by the vengeance of Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik. They say that it’s physically impossible for a man with a “bad back” to have that kind of vigorous sex; adding that the shape of his stomach will absolve him. They believe that this revelation comes too close to an election to be anything other than a political setup. For the most part, they are content to assume that it’s all fake and merely made up to discredit Mr Opposition.

Yes, there are questions. And they should be answered. But the most important question is whether the video is authentic or if it has been doctored? Heaping presumptions upon assumptions, we find ourselves either not wanting to know or just uninterested in finding out the truth.

When the famous VK Lingam tape episode surfaced, Mr Lingam was quoted to have said “He looks like me, sounds like me; but its not me.” It was something the Malaysian public could not accept that as true. “Impossible”, they exclaimed. “Lies.” “Unacceptable.” But of course, when Anwar and his supporters respond in similar fashion, the public somehow embraces the explanation as good enough. Difficult as it may be to accept, the same standards of scrutiny towards public figures and national figures must apply, irrespective of where you stand on the political divide.