Anwar’s ‘clone’: Is he for real or merely a phantom? 

(ST) – The challenge with covering Malaysian politics is that sometimes it’s hard to judge whether something is too bizarre to be true 

THE note in the media notice was explosive.

“Friday 9pm: Exclusive expose!” it screamed. “Anwar Ibrahim Thailand clone.”

The notice arrived last Thursday. Just prior to this, the opposition had been gushing about how they had found a lookalike of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. This person from Thailand, they claimed, had been used by Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional to shoot fake sex videos.

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader had in recent years been “exposed” in numerous such videos by Umno-associated personalities and bloggers, to suggest that he is immoral.

Just last month, a pro-Umno blog uploaded still pictures from what it claimed was a sex video of Mr Anwar. The pictures showed two men – one of whom resembled Mr Anwar – kissing and groping each other.

In 2011, former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik, businessman Shazryl Eskay and pro-Malay group Perkasa leader Shuib Lazim released a video showing a man they claimed was Mr Anwar having sex with a young woman.

Mr Anwar has denied all the accusations. His case would be strengthened of course if the opposition can produce his “clone”.

The plot thickened when, in what seemed like an attempt to pre-empt this move, Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia published interviews with former PKR members last Friday. One said Mr Anwar would do anything to create the perception that the man in the sex videos is not him.

Another accused him of using Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional as his “punching bag”.

The Umno-linked New Straits Times quoted another insider who claimed that PKR had gotten an imposter to undergo plastic surgery to look like Mr Anwar.

“Begun, the Clone Wars have,” joked a fellow journalist, referencing an episode from the Star Wars storyline in Yoda’s voice.

Still, I was doubtful.

If this was as big a deal as they said it was, why were they parading him for the first time in a semi-rural kampung in Penang? And if “Anwar” did not stand up to public scrutiny, this stunt would backfire, terribly.

But if there’s anything I’ve learnt from covering Malaysian politics, it’s that its twists and turns sometimes defy even fiction.

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