Too hot to handle: Shafie Apdal denies alleged affair with actress
Embattled Rural and Regional Development minister Shafie Apdal has finally issued a denial about an alleged affair with actress Zahida Rafik, on whom he was accused of lavishing RM1.5mil over a 4-month period.
“Accompanying statements by the individuals who have spread the police report far and wide are in bad faith and politically motivated,” Shafie, an Umno vice president, said in statement uploaded oh his Twitter.
Nonetheless, his explanation may not satisfy his critics, as the main pillar of his denial is that the allegation was mere slander by Opposition rivals. The fact is, it was Zahida herself who started the commotion when she lodged a police report against her driver for absconding with RM200,000.
To clear himself, the driver then lodged his own report, revealing all details about his occupation, that he was hired by Shafie and told to monitor Zahida's movements.
Meanwhile, Zahida has in a stunning series of tweets on Twitter also issued her denial, increasing the spice and temperature of the scandal. Both Shafie and Zahida have previously denied any ties. But a Google search would easily yield hundreds of postings of their alleged affair.
Tried to ignore the scandal, but it was too hot
Over the weekend, the Sabah-born Shafie - who is a Muslim and married with 6 children - had tried to maintain a stiff upper-lip on the issue, refusing to comment on the scandal even as it heated up all corners of the nation.
At his first official function after the latest round of accusations, the 58-year-old Shafie kept his head down and focused on work. He urged smallholders and farmers to be appreciate the government's effort to improve their living standards through the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda).
"We are not forcing them but they should reflect on the struggle, contribution and hardwork by the government and also translate their appreciation into votes (for Barisan Nasional) at the coming general election," Shafie said in his speech at the launching of the Love the Smallhoder program.
Birds of a feather
It may have been coincidental that Shafie had chosen to make his appearance together with former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik, one of the infamous Datuk T trio which scandalized the nation with a dubious sex tape purportedly showing Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim with a prostitute.
It is worth noting that Rahim, now the Risda chairman, was previously charged for raping an under-aged girl in Malacca. The scandal raised by DAP's Lim Guan Eng, now the Penang chief minister, had spurred Rahim's Umno party into a frenzy of revenge culminating with Guan Eng's imprisonment under the Internal Security Act.
“This is an approach to get RISDA, the implementing agency, closer to its target group, the smallholders,” said Rahim, who also avoided any mention Shafie's red-hot issue.
Father-in-law and Najib too
Last week, PKR leaders Zuraida Kamaruddin and Sivarasa Rasiah had gone public with the affair, giving Shafie 7 days to clarify how he managed to afford such a lifestyle on his minister's salary.
The PKR leaders got to know of the affair after a relative of the driver handed them a copy of the report for fear of reprisal.
Shafie's father-in-law is Shuaib Lazim, another member of the infamous Datuk T trio. Shuaib, an Umno member, was the former Treasurer of Perkasa.
Until full clarification, the RM1.5mil sex scandal will dog Shafie, who is regarded as one of Prime Minister Najib Razak's favorite ministers and whom Najib wishes to instal as the next Sabah chief minister replacing the corruption-tainted Musa Aman.
Meanwhile, Najib himself is busy with his own sex and corruption Scandal. The French court has begun hearing the DCN's sale of two Scorpene submarines to the Malaysian government ordered by Najib when he was the Defense minister. DCN is suspected of paying Najib and other Malaysian officials RM570mil as a bribe or kickback to seal the RM7.3bil purchase.
Intertwined into the kickbacks scandal is the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu on Malaysian soil in 2006. It has been reported that Najib had an affair with her before passing her onto his close friend Razak Baginda. Two of Najib's former bodyguards have been sentenced to hang for the murder but they are believed to be mere assassins, and the question of who ordered the killing remains a hot question in Malaysia.
Allah knows the truth
Meanwhile, Zahida has threatened legal action against her accusers. She said she was answerable only to God and that she worked hard for her money.
"It's okay, Allah knows the truth... You are jealous... I'm just going to smile because Allah and I know the truth."
"kesian my x pemandu,tk da cara lain nk buat duit,so dia buat lah fitnah mcm ni! May allah bless him!"
(Pity my ex driver, no other way to make money, so he defames me like this! May Allah bless him!")