‘I made my promise, I keep my promise’: Mahathir confirms handover to Anwar despite sexual assault allegations

“If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation,” Mahathir said.
Reuters, The Straits Times
  • Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed he is handing over the premiership to Anwar Ibrahim despite an ongoing police investigation involving the PKR head.

  •  A 26-year-old researcher claimed Anwar, 72, forced him to have sex with him in his home on Oct 2.

  • This is the third time Anwar been hit with sexual assault claims by a former male employee.

  • Anwar’s new case mirrors a gay sex scandal involving PKR leader Azmin Ali earlier this year.

  • Anwar said back then that Azmin should resign if police found him guilty.

Despite an ongoing police investigation into sexual assault claims involving MP Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has come out to – once again – confirm that he is handing over the premiership to his appointed successor.

Calling the case “gutter politics”, Anwar has strongly denied accusations that he forced 26-year-old researcher Muhammed Yusoff Rawther to have sex with him in his home on Oct 2.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the PKR head claimed to have a packed schedule campaigning for a Port Dickson by-election on the day of the alleged incident.

Read also: Anwar denies sexual harassment allegations by male ex-staff in viral video

This is the third time the 72-year-old has been hit with sexual assault claims by a former male employee, with the first two occasions landing him a 15-year jail sentence for sodomy.

According to Bernama, the PM-in-waiting will be called to give his statements to police to facilitate investigations in the coming days.

The Star reported that police interrogated Yusoff for 11 hours between December 9 and 10.

Read also: From prison to palace: a recap of Anwar’s first day as a free man after being granted a full royal pardon

“As far I’m concerned, I’m stepping down”: Mahathir

Mahathir, 94, confirmed in an exclusive Reuters interview ahead of the APEC Summit this week that he would proceed as planned with the handover despite the latest controversy.

Reuters quoted Mahathir, who said on Tuesday (Dec 10): “I made a promise to hand over and I will.”

He added: “As far I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him. If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise.”

In the report, the nonagenarian added that he did not hand the premiership to Anwar immediately before the summit, as it was too disruptive.

Anwar told reporters at the this year’s Milken Summit earlier in October that he had the majority support needed to become PM, and that Mahathir had been consistent and unambiguous in naming him as his successor.

There is no set date for the handover, although Mahathir has confirmed it will occur before Malaysia’s next election.

Read also: I don’t want to be PM when I’m 100, Mahathir says of proposed two-term limit

Anwar, Azmin both hit with sex scandals this year

Anwar’s new assault allegations closely mirror a gay sex scandal involving PKR leader Azmin Ali earlier this year.

Azmin had also professed himself the victim of gutter politics after a series of sex tapes allegedly featuring him and political aide Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz were leaked on social media.

Anwar said back then that Azmin should resign if police found him guilty.

Police subsequently arrested Anwar’s aide, Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, in relation to the case.

They later concluded an unnamed political party leader likely paid several hundred thousand ringgit for the tapes to damage Azmin’s reputation.

“This is politics,” ST quoted Anwar as saying in response to his own allegations. “It requires tenacity of purpose (and) courage of conviction to move on with a bigger agenda.”

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