All for nought

By Wong Chun Wai, The Star

The public is divided between believers and sceptics over the sex video.

IT was a most unusual way of exposing a sex video to incriminate a political enemy. Such videos are often sent to media companies in envelopes or they just pop up on the Internet. It is also rare for anyone to claim responsibility for such gutter politics.

In the case of the sex video involving a man resembling Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and a foreign prostitute, the media was invited to a hush-hush viewing. It was unprecedented in the country’s political history.

But the cloak-and-dagger operation, with journalists being given last minute instructions on the time and location, the dark glasses and metal scanner plus the mysterious Datuk T, has all come to nought.

Within hours of the first screening at Carcosa Seri Negara, word was leaking out via Twitter about what was taking place. Reporters were alerting each other and, as the organiser himself said, over 20 pressmen were soon clamouring to watch it. The show had to end abruptly.

The next day, the people behind it – Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik, Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and Datuk Shuaib Lazim – were exposed on the Internet as Datuk T. The name which the press had thought was of one person was actually the moniker for the three Datuks. Rahim and Shazryl then held a press conference to declare that they were the men behind the video.

The question now is, of course, whether Eskay had stumbled upon the video recorder or he was the mastermind. The police should be asking him this.

He had signed off the press release as “The Insider” and even said he was on the video – presumably as the person who arranged the tryst between the woman and the man.

Bits of information have surfaced regarding the background of Eskay, who is said to be close to Anwar and was his physiotherapist. If he is Anwar’s friend, as he claimed, why did he turn against the PKR leader?

It would appear now that the plotters had no intention to hide for long. The room in Carcosa was said to have been booked under Rahim’s name, so either he was careless or brazenly brave.

It is learnt that Rahim had scheduled a press conference on Monday afternoon and that it was not a hasty reaction after being exposed by PKR and bloggers.

But the point is there are probably more sceptics than believers. Many are seeing this as an attempt to destroy the Opposition Leader, who is already on trial on a sodomy charge. They are also asking whether he is into women or men. They find it hard to comprehend.

A huge number of Malaysians are inclined to believe that either the video is doctored or the man isn’t Anwar.

This scepticism isn’t just confined to the “Anwar can do no wrong” admirers. Those who just dislike the Government but are not necessarily pro-opposition are also of the same mind. Strangely, even the strongest Umno supporters have their doubts. The sex video caught them off guard, and they called the media to warn them not to fall into Anwar’s trap.

Several Umno supreme council members also expressed reservations over the emergence of the video, saying that it was not necessary and was of no help to them. They added that they are being blamed and that they could do without it.

They claimed it was produced by Anwar’s men to stall the sodomy trial, which has entered a crucial phase, to show that he prefers women and not men. It was reverse psychology, some claimed.

In short, this scandal is both intriguing and bizarre. Not only have people questioned the credibility and integrity of institutions such as the police, even the trio had initially refused to hand over the sex video and an Omega watch that is said to belong to Anwar to the police.

Politicians who are caught having sex on camera are not committing any crime. But, as elected representatives, they have to face the court of the people. If they have been playing the moral card, the price will be heavier. In the case of Muslims, there is the Syariah court to answer to for khalwat or zina.

But as politicians and public figures, they are all expected to live up to certain standards.

It is good that those who produced the video have been hauled up by the police. What they did is not just an intrusion of privacy but a criminal offence too.

In 1992, Karpal Singh walked into parliament and exposed then Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker D.P. Vijandran for being in a sex video. The latter was then the MIC secretary-general.

Back then, Karpal Singh said he had no intention of inflating the pornographic video issue but was doing so “in the public interest” while then MIC chief S. Samy Vellu dismissed the allegations, saying “I myself am calm because I know the truth”.

Samy even boldly remarked that Vijandran would come out of the controversy with “flying colours”. In the end, however, the up-and-coming MIC politician had to quit as the video had already been widely circulated.

In the case of Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, another victim of gutter politics, he had the guts to own up.

He didn’t blame the opposition but instead took full responsibility, quit his various posts, sought forgiveness from his family and went into political rehabilitation. He paid a heavy price then but when he stood for re-election, he was elected as MCA president.

Even Selangor PKR leader Elizabeth Wong was a victim of sordid politics that resulted from, it was said, internal party feuds. In her case, some Barisan Nasional leaders even defended her.

But the video incriminating Anwar has only been shown to a handful of pressmen and politicians. That means judgment has been pronounced based not on facts but on assump­tions. One cannot speak with authority unless one has watched it.

Those who have viewed it, however, are most likely to keep their opinions to themselves or will only talk about it in private. While some have dismissed it, there are others who are totally convinced.

Some have described the room as dark while others said it was bright and the quality of the video was good and sharp.

Some said the man could be a look-alike, an impersonator who has perfected Anwar’s mannerism, while those who are convinced said they would stand by their opinion unless a twin brother shows up.

The date and time are shown on the video but Anwar claims he has an alibi. Eskay, however, maintains that he is in the video with Anwar.

Malaysians want to know the identity of the man who resembles Anwar and whether the video clip was doctored. These are the key concerns.

No one knows what the future plans of the Datuk Trio, who claim they are doing it in the public interest, are. Two men involved in the case were arrested on Thursday and later released on bail, and it looks like they may face court charges.

Is the sex video scandal about to go to court? If so, Act Two could be even more interesting.