Athi Veeranggan | May 16, 09 5:30pm
Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim has vehemently denied offering newly appointed Foreign Minister Anifah Aman the deputy prime ministerâ€™s post in the bid to entice him to defect to the opposition coalition last year.
â€œAt no time were any such offers made to Anifah by Anwar. The allegations made in the said story are baseless, untrue, defamatory and made with malicious intent to tarnish Anwarâ€™s reputation,â€ said lawyer Sankara Nair, who is representing the opposition leader.
â€œWe have instructions to file a defamation (libel) suit against Anifah if he does not retract and make an apology within 24 from now.â€
Sankara was referring to todayâ€™s Star report â€˜Anwar offered me the DPMâ€™s post, says Anifahâ€™.
On Thursday, at a joint press conference after meeting with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington DC, Anifah (right) was asked about the fresh sodomy charge against Anwar, which State Department had earlier said was politically motivated.
â€œHe said that he will form the government on Sept 16 and he had changed the dates many times. And he was trying to entice members of parliament (to defect),â€ said Anifah, who is brother of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.
â€œAnd I was personally offered to jump into the opposition and offered a very lucrative position – itâ€™s like a deputy prime minister (in the Pakatan government). And this is not known to the world at large.â€
Anifah defends Najib on Altantuya
At the press conference, Anifah also defended his boss, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was accused of being linked to the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibauu.
â€œAnd insofar as Anwar Ibrahim is concerned â€“ we know him very, very well.
“Most of the things (allegations) are untrue; for example, like the involvement of our honorable prime minister and the murder of a Mongolian citizen.
â€œAnd he has repeatedly said before the elections that he will provide evidence and yet, until today, he has not given anything.â€
Expressing shock over Anifah’s allegations, Anwar chided the minister for faring poorly in his international debut as foreign minister, which he said reflected his inexperience and immaturity.
“I have spoken to Anifah only once on the phone and that’s it…,â€ said Anwar after a meet-the-people session in his Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency.
“I never offered the DPM post to him for him to defect. The issue indeed was never raised. He was never qualified for such a position anyway. Perhaps it was his dream to become deputy prime minister.”
He suggested that the minister was perhaps overawed and overwhelmed by the occasion.
“After all, being a new minister before an international audience for the first time, he was probably prompted to impress his new political master,” chided Anwar, confirming that he would soon be filing a civil suit against Anifah for defamation.
“As the matter would be in court, I prefer not to comment further on the issue,” he said, adding that Anifah was seeking to tarnish his image abroad.