KUALA LUMPUR – Former Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim said Tuesday he will launch a lawsuit against one-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad for accusing him of being a homosexual. Mahathir said earlier this month that he was forced to sack Anwar in 1998 to prevent mainly-Muslim Malaysia from having a homosexual leader. Anwar was jailed for sodomy after his sacking but the conviction was overturned last year.
“I cannot have a person who is like that in my cabinet who may succeed and become the prime minister. Imagine having a gay prime minister. Nobody would be safe,“ Mahathir told reporters.
Anwar said he was “shocked“ to hear of Mahathir’s “defamatory“ remarks, particularly after a court last month awarded him 1.2 million dollars in damages over a book that aired the sodomy allegations.
“I will not allow this lie and slander to continue. Thus I have instructed my counsel to initiate legal action against Tun (honorific) Mahathir,“ he said in a statement.
“From the very beginning I have stressed that my sacking from the government and UMNO (the ruling United Malays National Organisation party) is executed as part of a high-level political conspiracy,“ he said.
Anwar said he had been vindicated by the High Court which found that the author and publisher of the book “50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Be PM“ had conspired with unnamed “others“ to destroy his reputation and career.
“Despite this, Tun Mahathir continues his baseless accusations to divert attention from his misguided policies that have harmed and caused severe damage to Malaysia...“ Anwar said, accusing Mahathir of human rights abuses.
Anwar, who was once Mahathir’s protege and heir apparent, was jailed on sodomy and corruption charges in 1998 for allegedly conducting a sexual relationship with his official driver, then abusing his power to conceal it.
Human rights groups and Anwar himself maintained the charges were trumped up to prevent him from challenging Mahathir.