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In elections earlier this year, Malaysia experienced a political earthquake. The party that had ruled the former British colony for six decades, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), via the Barisan Nasional coalition, was pushed out of power. A new coalition, the Pakatan Harapan (PH), was installed in its place via the May general vote count.
Leading the new government as prime minister is Mahathir Mohamad, a former UMNO member and prime minister over the last few decades. Interestingly enough, he is joined in the PH coalition with Anwar Ibrahim, a long-term political nemesis and corruption target. However, beneath all of the political jockeying and coalition building lies darker arts of political maneuvering — blackmail, hypocrisy and pervasive corruption, with powerful figures pulling the strings in the South Asian nation.
Some background is in order. Anwar Ibrahim was convicted and jailed twice since the 1990s for immorality, or sodomy. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. He remained in prison prior to the May elections of this year. Then, presto — he was given a pardon by the king. Why did that happen? We have been provided information from sources with access to officials in the top tier of leadership in the current ruling coalition that Anwar Ibrahim was released from prison in a bargain with Mahathir Mohamad to join the PH and push the new government to victory in the elections. Anwar Ibrahim remains a popular figure among the people and still has a large following. Apparently Mahathir Mohamad needed Anwar Ibrahim’s help to push him over the finish line and take power once again.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
Apparently there was a promise to Anwar Ibrahim to give him the prime minister’s chair in two years by Mahathir Mohamad, who has publicly committed himself to the arrangement. However, I have personally listened to hours of tapes made of a senior government official close to the prime minister, made by an informant, who declared that Mahathir Mohamad never intends for Anwar Ibrahim to be prime minister in his own right. The recordings confirmed the government is already backtracking on the deal by claiming that the two-year term was never put in writing and Mahathir Mohamad may stay on longer and nominate Azmin Ali instead. Azmin Ali was already elevated from a gubernatorial position to minister of the economy, the third most powerful position in government.
But what it Anwar Ibrahim protests and goes public about the broken agreement, you ask?
The government has an answer. It’s called blackmail.
The recordings from the informant have also provided evidence of a sex tape showing Anwar Ibrahim having gay sex with a teenager. If he doesn’t play along with current demands, the tape will be released, and Anwar Ibrahim goes back to jail. There are also allegations that should Anwar Ibrahim become the next prime minister, he would be prime minister in name only — a puppet controlled by Mahathir Mohamad and his allies, who leverage they have on his personal life. The sex tape was allegedly provided by Japanese intelligence. The existence of the tape was confirmed by several sources who have viewed it.
Malaysia is actively cracking down on the LGBT community in-country. Two lesbian women were recently caned in Terengganu, a major city of some 1.2 million residents, on September 3rdthis year), the hypocrisy of this political arrangement is astounding. Some analysts suggest the crackdown against gays is to pressure Anwar Ibrahimto live up to his part of the deal, as in get his followers into the PH camp, and make them stay there. He is even being forced to push the anti-gay agenda, a position he obviously does not believe in.
The entire playbook for the Mahathir Mohamadgovernment to remain in power seems to be pandering to the Islamic sector in the formerly, mostly secular country. In a world full of Islamic extremism, terror, and violence, this seems a dangerous strategy indeed. In fact, Mahathir Mohamadhas begun to move elements of Sharia Law from the Muslim family courts into the English common-law courts of the non-believers in Malaysia, in order to curry favor with Islamic elements in Malaysian society. This is while the ruling family lives a Western lifestyle, but puts on an Islamic face when in their home country. There appears to be one rule for Malaysia and another for Mahathir Mohamad’s family. Again, rank hypocrisy.
In spite of all this, perhaps the most troubling information we have been provided from sources, again well-placed and close to those in power in Malaysia, is the absolute willingness, and ability, to control the supposed independent judiciary inside the island nation.
As with the sex tape, the government seems willing to use the intelligence services of Malaysia to dig up dirt on opponents and force their submission to the government’s will. As in the United States, we can see how dangerous it is when the deep state of a nation becomes involved in picking winners and losers in politics. The capabilities of security services with the surveillance and censorship available with today’s technology, is all powerful.
The ruling family understands how to rule puppets in government, a time-honored art which they have perfected with a combination of blackmail for personal secrets, or just plain old prosecution for corruption, in order to get their way. Mahathir Mohamad prefers to jail his opponents and rivals on charges of corruption to lower their ammunition and credibility in the future.
Why does all of this matter? With neighboring Indonesia, and the Phillippines, already experiencing historical waves of Islamic rebellion and extremism, the Malaysian government’s pandering to this sector of society could have unintended consequences in this volatile part of the world. The world is under no illusions about the state of politics in Asia and the dirty techniques that have been employed for all time, however, a little sunlight is the best medicine, and more transparency about what is going on in Malaysia would be good for everyone.
Originally posted at The Washington Times