Fallout at point of no return

Joceline Tan, The Star

ANOTHER bombshell has just fallen – the sex video, which has dominated the headlines, is more likely to be authentic than a deepfake.

The revelation will further rattle the situation in PKR which is being dragged down by the open warfare between president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

However, in a move worthy of a suspense movie, Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Hamid Bador said there is a high likelihood that the video is authentic but that the identities of the men in the video have yet to be ascertained.

One of the men in the video has confirmed that it is him, another has denied that he is the other man, but the police are not 100% certain of their identities.

We are certainly living in interesting times.

The video scandal has dented the image of the government and rocked PKR to the core.

The split in PKR has been laid bare for all to see and a number of party leaders admit that the animosity and distrust between Anwar and Azmin have reached the point of no return.

The battle lines are clearly drawn.

“It’s a very bitter feud. My fear is that it’s beyond any kind of reconciliation,” said lawyer and Selangor PKR politician Lee Chin Cheh.

The verbal warfare between PKR’s top two has escalated into a dramatic show of strength and numbers, with the two men out to show who has more support in the party.

A total of 28 people issued a joint statement yesterday that was read as a show of support for what Azmin is going through and also as a reprimand of Anwar for not standing by his deputy.

It was a pertinent statement, pointing out how Anwar himself had been a victim of sex allegations and how the party had defended his innocence, enduring tear gas, water canons and even jail time for him.

That was probably what Azmin’s jibe for Anwar to “look at the man in the mirror” was all about.

Among the signatories to the statement were several assemblymen and, more important, a total of 14 MPs. This is an impressive number because MPs have become a highly valuable commodity in the current game of numbers.

According to Lee, two more MPs requested to support the statement after it came out.

They were Kuala Langat MP Xavier Jayakumar who is also a minister, and Alor Setar MP Chan Ming Kai.

However, the situation is quite fluid because two other signatories, Saratok MP Ali Biju and Puncak Borneo MP Willy Mongin, were seen at a press conference alongside Anwar hours after the statement came out.

Both Anwar and Azmin have their own carrots to dangle for support in the party.

Anwar’s appeal is that he is the prime minister-in-waiting and that is a big carrot to hold up.

Anwar is confident he has the numbers and he is sticking to the script that the transition is intact, saying that he and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meet ever so often.

He also told a senior journalist that there is even a written agreement that he will take over from Dr Mahathir and the document is in the safekeeping of his secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution.

In short, he is saying to his party that it would be wise to stick to the next prime minister.

Azmin has a bad habit of letting others, especially his loyal ally and Ampang MP Zuraidah Kamaruddin, do the fighting for him.

However, the last one week has seen him emerge to speak up and defend himself. That is what his supporters want to see him do.

But will he shrink back again like a tortoise into its shell given that the video may be authentic? The Anwar camp will surely ramp up the pressure for him to resign.

The Azmin camp insists that Dr Mahathir is with the Economic Affairs Minister. If that is true, it is a pretty awesome thing given the elder man’s clout over the coalition.

Dr Mahathir thought it wise to take a step back from the issue.

His excuse when waylaid by reporters for his opinion on the latest development was that he has “lots of other things to do”.

The Prime Minister is a busy man but you need to read between the lines when it comes to Dr Mahathir and some thought it was his way of saying that he has more important things to do unlike the warring leaders of PKR.

Others suspect that he might actually be enjoying the whole spectacle. At 94, he thought he had seen it all but politics continues to surprise him.

The video scandal as well as allegations that the mastermind is a top aide of Anwar has somehow complicated the transition plan. If Azmin does fall because of the scandal, he will do what it takes to drag Anwar down with him.

PKR is navigating extremely troubled and murky waters and doubts have resurfaced that Anwar’s ship may have difficulties arriving safely at the harbour.