KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s economic affairs minister Mohamed Azmin Ali on Wednesday denied links to a sex video purporting to show him with a man, saying the allegation was an attempt to end his political career.
Azmin, a senior minister in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet, is seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate and rival to another top politician, Anwar Ibrahim, to whom Mahathir has agreed to hand over power.
The video purporting to show Azmin circulated via WhatsApp this week. Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia.
“I categorically deny this vicious libel upon me,” Azmin said in a statement. “This is nothing but a nefarious plot to assassinate my reputation and character in an attempt to destroy my political career.”
Azmin said he has instructed his lawyers to take legal action against those behind the video.
This is not the first time a Malaysian politician has been involved in a sex scandal.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, was sacked in 1998 by then premier Mahathir and later jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption which he denounced as politically motivated.
Anwar was freed in 2004 but jailed a second time for sodomy in 2015, when Najib Razak was prime minister.
The volatile relationship between Mahathir and Anwar has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, but the two agreed to work together to defeat Najib.
Anwar was released last May after Mahathir’s shock victory in the general election, defeating Najib’s alliance that had governed Malaysia for 60 years.
Mahathir had promised to hand over the premiership to Anwar in 2020. He told Reuters in March he has not fixed a date but would keep his promise to hand power to Anwar.
Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by Darren Schuettler