Minister rejects sex and murder claims

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The Independent Online
THE SACKED Malaysian finance minister, Anwar Ibrahim, accused the Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, of cooking up accusations that he slept with prostitutes, sodomised his chauffeur, fathered an illegitimate child, committed murder and betrayed the country.

At a packed press conference 24 hours after his dismissal and with his arrest apparently imminent, Mr Anwar spoke of a "political conspiracy" masterminded from the top.

He said Dr Mahathir, who has led Malaysia for 17 years, intended to undermine his position as a potential challenger to him. Mr Anwar said that he might be arrested under the official secrets act or the internal security act, a draconian law regularly employed against opponents of the government, which allows police to imprison people indefinitely and without charge.

"I am totally surprised and shocked to see that the instruments of government could have been used in such a despicable manner to stage this conspiracy to oust me," Mr Anwar said.

"Since they realise that I cannot be defeated in the political arena through the democratic process, they resort to dirty and disgusting means ... to slander me, frame allegations and force witnesses to make false statements," he added. "This is an unjust administration. If the No 2 man cannot be sure of justice, then I'm sorry for Malaysia."

The allegations have been circulating for months in the form of poison- pen letters and a book entitled Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister, whose author is being sued for defamation by the former minister.

Yesterday, Malaysia's official Bernama press agency printed the details of an affidavit filed by the chief of police in which he cited alleged evidence of sexual offences and bribe-taking.

Malaysian newspapers have shed their caution about discussing the rumours concerning Mr Anwar, 52. "The local media, led by certain people, are also deliberately undermining me," he said, by accusing him of everything "from sex scandals to murder, and [being an] agent for a foreign nation, corruption and treason.

"I told the Prime Minister that by naming 100 prostitutes who had sex [with me] will not alter the fact that this is a lie ... I told them also that I can pay some money to get some prostitutes to admit to having sex with some others if that is the game you want to play," he said.

Until this week, Mr Anwar was the second most powerful man in Malaysia, an economic liberal respected by conservative Muslims at home, and by foreign businessmen and politicians. Last May, during a visit to the capital, Kuala Lumpur, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, referred to him as a "good friend". But yesterday, his former supporters in his party, the United Malays National Organisation, appeared to be distancing themselves from him. Whatever the truth of the allegations, his position now looks insecure.

One of his closest friends, S Nallakaruppan, has been arrested on arms charges after ammunition was allegedly found at his home by police. The charges carry a mandatory death penalty. According to the police, Mr Nallakaruppan acted as a pimp for Mr Anwar, who passed state secrets to him.

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