This article was updated at 4:40pm on July 18.
Plagued by accusations over his participation in a recent gay sex scandal, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali has hit back at Anwar for saying he should resign if found guilty, telling the PKR president to “reflect on his own face”, The Star reported.
Azmin’s comments on Thursday (July 18) come after Anwar told reporters at a July 17 press conference that he had changed his mind on an earlier statement, and wanted his former deputy to quit if found guilty.
The sex tapes leaked via WhatsApp and streaming sites in June contained allegations that Azmin and ministerial aide Muhammad Haziq Abdul Aziz had engaged in gay sex acts.
Despite earlier stating that he did not agree that Azmin should resign even if there was overwhelming evidence that he was the man in the videos, Anwar said he had changed his mind due to recent developments in the investigations, The Star reported.
“It would depend on the investigation…. if the investigation is already conclusive in terms of the participants of the so-called act, then I think he needs to resign,” Malay Mail quoted him as saying.
He added, however, that Azmin did not need to take leave or quit until the investigations were complete, Malay Mail reported.
Sex tapes real, but identities of men undetermined
On Thursday afternoon, The Star reported that CyberSecurity Malaysia had confirmed the authenticity of the tapes, but could not determine the identity of the two individuals featured.
As part of investigations, police have since arrested several PKR leaders suspected of distributing the videos, including Anwar’s own political secretary, Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak.
Azmin defended Anwar for over 20 years: PKR
In response to the comments, Azmin said that Anwar should “look at the man in the mirror” and “reflect on his own face“, The Star quoted him as saying.
It is believed Azmin is referring to Anwar’s 2008 sodomy charge. The case saw Anwar convicted of having gay sex with a former aide, after police declared sex tapes implicating him as genuine.
He was pardoned for the crime in 2018.
Several PKR members also issued a statement calling for Anwar to remember how the party, including Azmin, had defended him “for more than 20 years” over his own sodomy charge, The Edge reported.
Azmin was Anwar’s former political aide, back when he was Deputy Prime Minister.
On July 17, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reiterated his sentiments that the videos were deepfakes created to sabotage Azmin’s political career, the New Straits Times reported.
He did, however, agree with Anwar’s opinion that Azmin should leave if the videos were found to be authentic, but could carry on doing his job unless proven guilty.
Meanwhile, former PM and opposition leader Najib Razak posted a photo of a mirror on Facebook in an apparent reference to Azmin’s comment.
He also posted a photo of the two politicians, describing both of them as “the same”.