Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has denied assertions made by three witnesses called by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar that he had planned to topple Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the Umno presidency post in 1998.
Testifying in his defamation suit against Khairy at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, he said the assertions were false and politically created following his sacking in 1998.
“There was no (Umno) party election in 1998. The party supreme council had then decided there was no contest for the post of president and deputy president.
"In the meeting, I supported the motion for no contest for the post of president but other posts, including my post as deputy president, could be contested. My statement was reported in the media,” he said, citing a report from The Star dated May 11, 1998.
Anwar further claimed that the issue of him challenging Mahathir never arose, despite several of then party vice-presidents Najib (Abdul Razak), Muhyiddin (Yassin) and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wanted him to bring several issues concerning Proton, Perwaja, Bakun Dam and others to the party president.
“I was asked by the vice-presidents to relate to the PM (Mahathir) the views of (several) leader and grassroots. Despite this, the issue of challenging the president did not arise,” he said.
Anwar was responding to testimonies made by Lokman Adam, Ishak Ismail (Lenggeng assemblyperson) and Ali Shikh who testified in court earlier that Ezam Mohd Noor had told them that Anwar wanted to topple Mahathir.
Lokman, formerly from PKR and now strategic director of the Finance Ministry, had testified on Anwar conspiring to topple Mahathir, even as he publicly pledged support for him.
Anwar further testified today that in his discussion with then Umno Youth chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and also Saifuddin Nasution, he had reiterated the same thing (of not challenging for party president's post).
“The witnesses put up by the defendant have not attended such meetings. Azmin Ali (who was then the deputy prime minister's secretary) recorded and decided on all meetings, with my then political secretary Mansor Othman.
“The allegation that Ezam had peddled the story that I want to challenge the presidency has no basis and not related to me or Mansor (Othman),” he added.
Slander follows Mahathir's meeting with Anwar
Anwar said the political creation and the latest slander of him trying to topple Mahathir in 1998 came following the former premier's meeting with him (Anwar) in early Sept 2016, after 18 years of political rivalry.
“As a Muslim, we should be thankful and happy there is peace.
“Hence, I am suspicious why such tranquility (in meeting Mahathir) had caused discomfort in certain people."
Mahathir met Anwar last Sept 5, after 18 years, while the latter was trying to challenge the implementation of the National Security Council Act.
Both men had a private meeting for 50 minutes in the witness room where the former premier said he and Anwar share a common ground in opposing the NSC Act.
Anwar further denied meeting Lokman, Ishak or Ali in 1998. However, he admitted meeting Ali and Ishak when he was Umno Youth chief and vice-president prior to 1998.
He further denied Khairy's assertion that he supported Hindraf for his own interest and explained that what triggered the rise in the Indian community was the demolition of a 100-year-old temple in 2007 by the then Umno-BN government.
“PKR and I objected to this and at an Islamic conference in Mumbai, I was asked about it and I reiterated that as a Muslim, I object to such a move (to demolish the temple), just as with the actions of Hindu extremists to demolish the Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.- Mkini