A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
June 18, 2019
SOMETIMES the past has an ironic way of catching up to us – it often comes at the most inconvenient moment and if it is not taken care of, you’d risk carrying it into the future.
And this is exactly what happened to Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali who currently is being dogged by a sex controversy that, due to its sheer notoriety, needed no exposition.
While the allegation of Azmin’s homesexual tryst at a hotel in Sandakan in May has yet to be ascertained, his assertion of knowing Haziq Abdul Aziz – the guy who admitted to the affair – only from afar was somewhat odd.
It was so in the sense that hours after the claim that he only knew Haziq as an ordinary PKR member, screengrabs of Azmin’s rather friendly exchanges with Haziq on Twitter were widely shared on social media.
“@HaziqAbdAziz tahniah. Cukup interaktif dan menarik idea anak muda. (@HaziqAbdAziz congratulations. Interactive and interesting, the ideas of a youth),” read Azmin’s June 29, 2013 tweet to Haziq.
Another of such tweet has Azmin congratulating Haziq, on October 3, 2014, over what appeared to be latter’s contribution in exposing the shenanigans of illegal garbage trucks in Selangor.
The full context of the tweet however was unclear as Haziq had already deactivated his twitter account but as it is, the exchanges seemed to suggest that Azmin’s familiarity of Haziq was more than what he had claimed to be.
But whatever it is, Azmin’s remark yesterday on how he believed that the controversy was an inside job, sort of lends credence to a claim that the whole debacle was due to PKR’s internal power play.
Why Azmin became the target is not a surprise.
Talk has been rife that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad prefers Azmin as his successor instead of PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but this does not tally with Mahathir’s repeated assurances that he will hand over power to Anwar.
“These WhatsApp groups contain all the contact numbers of branch leaders and lower-ranked branch level office bearers,” said Azmin as he referred to the WhatsApp groups in which the video of his alleged romp was shared.
“I don’t have access to this information. The question is who provided this information to create these WhatsApp groups? The party should be cleaned up. If we want to ensure the party is relevant, something needs to be done,” he added.
Anwar however, begged to differ.
“There is already an attempt to slander one person and the reason why that happened cannot be justified by another slander. Secondly, why would I or my supporters be involved in it?” said Anwar hours after Azmin’s latest remark.
Anwar’s excusè -moi of a rebuttal was unsurprising but the narrative on how Azmin’s “gay-gate” controversy was done by a certain faction in PKR was not without any merit.
Pakatan Harapan’s Klang MP Charles Santiago believes that slanders such as this will happen more often if the succession plan for Anwar remains unclear.
“All four Pakatan parties must sit together and make it clear how and when the succession is going to take place or there will be more problems,” said Santiago.
And what continued to fuel the inside job narrative was Haziq’s seemingly close relationship with not just Anwar – the two had on May 4, six days prior the alleged romp — watched Avengers: Endgame together – but with MP Rafizi Ramli as well.
But, of course Rafizi, who lost to Azmin in the PKR poll for the deputy’s post, strongly denied of ever knowing Haziq, adding that the latter was all the time close with someone else.
But again, Rafizi’s tweet on April 3, 2011, suggested otherwise.
“@HaziqAbdAziz Dik, esok abg sampai Kuching 10 pg. Terus ke grand con utk pengumuman calon. Hari selasa kita mula bergerak. (@HaziqAbdAziz brother, I will arrive in Kuching tomorrow at 10 in the morning. We’ll go straight to grand con (Grand Continental Hotel) for nomination. We’ll start moving on Tuesday)” read his tweet.
Simply put, everyone who knew Haziq, is now avoiding him like the plague.
Everyone except his former boss, Primary Industries deputy minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin who in a statement last night contradicted Azmin’s denial.
In a lengthy statement, Shamsul Iskandar pointed out that Haziq was an intern at Azmin’s office during the latter’s stint as the mentri besar of Selangor.
So, was Azmin lying?
But despite the damage that Haziq had inflicted onto PKR’s reputation via his confession of committing gay sex, Anwar believed that it is still early to sack him from the party because investigations are ongoing.
In what way will the sacking of Haziq affect the probe is anybody’s guess.
Then again, maybe Anwar wanted to be really sure this time around, after all he is no stranger when it comes to cases of undue influence.