By Jalil Hamid
KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 Malaysia's deputy prime
minister said on Thursday the man who has accused opposition
leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy had turned to him for help
because he was in a trauma.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak's surprise remarks came
days after Anwar rejected the allegation as a top-level
conspiracy to prevent him from standing for parliament and
stymie his drive to woo defectors from the ruling coalition.
Police are investigating Anwar, 60, for allegedly
sodomising his 23-year-old aide. A similar charge a decade ago
landed the former finance minister in jail for six years before
the nation's highest court overturned that conviction in 2004.
Najib said Anwar's accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, went to
his house a few days before lodging the police report on
"There is no conspiracy. The boy came to my house to
complain to me that he was sodomised by Anwar. Initially I was
sceptical. He needed help because he was so traumatised," Najib
"It was up to him and the police to decide on the next
course of action."
Anwar has said he planned to file a legal deposition soon
demonstrating that Saiful had close ties with Najib and his
Police have classified the sexual assault report against
Anwar as sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in
prison. So far, the police have not questioned Anwar.
Winning a seat in parliament would be the first step on the
road to Anwar's wider ambition of leading the opposition to
power for the first time in Malaysian history.
The three-party alliance made historic gains in a March 8
general election, winning five of 13 state governments and
coming within 30 seats of taking control of the 222-member
Analysts said the allegation could end up helping Anwar
more than hurting him in his drive to lead the opposition to
"My take is that the likely outcome will be no prosecution,
because this sort of thing will be incredibly difficult to
prove, unless they have a video recording or a picture," said
James Chin, political science lecturer at Monash University,
Malaysia. "It's one man's word against the other."
Anwar says he has a solid alibi backed by witnesses that
proves he wasn't at a luxury Kuala Lumpur apartment at the time
his accuser said they had sex there.
"Anwar has no choice but to fight back hard," said Yang
Razali Kasssim, Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological
University's School of International Studies in Singapore.
The sodomy allegation could further embolden the
opposition, which plans to stage a big weekend rally against a
sharp fuel price rise that has stoked anger against the
Organisers plan to gather tens of thousands of people in
the biggest protest since the government substantially raised
petrol and diesel prices in early June.
Police on Thursday asked the organisers to scrap the rally,
which they deemed as an illegal assembly, or face arrests.
"Action can be taken on those taking part," the police
chief for Selangor state, adjacent to Kuala Lumpur, was quoted
as saying by the national Bernama news agency. In Malaysia, a
gathering of five or more people requires a police permit.
(Additional reporting by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Alex