Leaked Sex Tapes And 13 Other Political Stories That Made Headlines In 2019

From royal abdication to sodomy making a comeback in Malaysian politics, and everything in between!

Cover image via Malay Mail , China Press , Business Insider Malaysia , Syarafiq Abd Samad/New Straits Times

1. First Agong to abdicate in Malaysian history

Image via Malaysiakini

On 6 January, Sultan Muhammad V shocked the nation when he resigned as the 15th Agong.

This came shortly after the Kelantan ruler returned from receiving medical treatment overseas, but foreign media reported that the Kelantan ruler had a hidden arrangement, according to New Straits Times.

Sultan Muhammad V is the first ruler in the country's history to abdicate his throne before serving a full five-year term, as well as the first King without an official queen, reported The Straits Times.

2. Tourism Minister's controversial remarks about homosexuality in Malaysia

Image via Deutsche Welle

When Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi was in Germany to attend a travel fair back in March, he reportedly said that there are no gays in Malaysia.

"Homosexuality? I don't think we have anything like that in our country," he allegedly responded to local media when asked if gay and Jewish travellers are welcomed to the country.

His comment caused consternation and made headlines around the world.

In an immediate followup, an anonymous aide to the minister said Mohamaddin's comment is in-line with Putrajaya's stance, whereby "LGBT is not recognised" in Malaysia.

On 7 March, Mohamaddin clarified what he meant to say was Malaysia had no tourism campaign targeted at the LGBT community.

He elaborated in a statement that Malaysia will not stop visitors based on their sexual orientation, religion, and cultural belief.

3. When UMNO and PAS decided to get "married"

On 5 March, two of the biggest opposition parties, UMNO and PAS, formed an alliance, reported The Star.

"We exchanged rings in Sungai Kandis, got engaged in Seri Setia, and then decided we wanted to get married," said UMNO deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, referring to the two past by-elections.

"This is the official ceremony. And now we are sitting on the dais."

Mohamad said the alliance will fight for the interest of Muslims and Malays, and that the two parties will compete in by-elections as one.

"Our agenda is not to create a Malay pact versus the non-Malays. We want to unite the Muslims and bumiputras without sidelining any other race and religion," he said.

According to him, the two parties will not form a coalition and he did not rule out the possibility of the alliance falling out before the 15th General Election.

UMNO and PAS now share the same voice as the opposition in the Parliament.

4. Putrajaya's refusal to ratify the Rome Statute

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced on 5 April that Malaysia will not ratify the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC).

Dr Mahathir attributed critics and a particular individual for misleading the Conference of Rulers and politicising the international convention that holds people accountable for:

- The crimes of genocide,
- Crimes against humanity,
- War crimes, and
- The crime of aggression.

When explaining the government's decision of not ratifying the convention, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said on 8 April that Putrajaya feared a coup would take place, reported The Star.

"It is important for the government to tread carefully on Malay issues because a potential coup d'etat could take place, given that the Malays are the majority in the country," said Khalid.

On 4 May, people gathered to protest against the issue under the theme of defending the "sovereignty of Islam" despite the ratification of the Rome Statute being cancelled, reported The Star.

5. Sodomy made a comeback in Malaysia's politics

Image via China Press

On 11 June, video footage purportedly showing Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali allegedly in bed with a man, later identified as Haziq Aziz, was leaked online.

Haziq, who was then-senior private secretary to Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, claimed in a video confession that he is one of the two men in the video, alleging that Azmin is the second man.

In response, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim suggested Azmin to resign if investigations found Haziq's allegation was true.

However, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador concluded on 18 July that "a leader of a political party" was the mastermind behind the video, which aimed to destroy Azmin's political career.

Malay Mail reported on 20 November that the police have sent the video to a United States-based university for analysis.

6. The twists and turns of Jawi scripts

In late July, the introduction of 'Khat' writing in primary schools divided Malaysians nationwide.

The public came to know about the issue after Sin Chew Daily ran a front-page coverage of the issue, stating that Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbooks will contain a six-page syllabus of Jawi scripts.

Malaysiakini reported Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching as saying that the policy was introduced during the Barisan Nasional administration.

The move upset various parties, especially Chinese educational group called Dong Zong - which has been accused of being racist.

Due to overwhelming pressure, the Ministry of Education announced that the syllabus will shrink down to three pages and the Parent Teacher Associations (PIBG) of each school will decide whether the students will learn Jawi scripts or not.

The three-page syllabus has since been made available to the public. You can view it here.

7. A proposed law that protects men from committing rape

Image via Parlimen

Speaking at Dewan Negara on 31 July, PKR senator Mohd Imran Abd Hamid proposed a law to protect men from being seduced into committing sexual crimes, reported Malaysiakini.

"I propose a Sexual Harassment Act to protect men from the actions, words and clothing of women, which can cause men to be seduced to the point they can commit acts such as incest, rape, molestation, (watching) pornography and likewise," said the senator.

Mohamad Imran retracted his suggestion the next day after public outrage. He said that he did not know his suggestion would be "offensive to women and insulting to men". 

8. Zakir Naik steers controversy with his "racist" remarks

Image via India Today

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik made enemies in Malaysia when he told a crowd on 8 August that Chinese Malaysians are "old guests" and suggested them to go back first before he does.

His remark caused a nationwide uproar, triggering Cabinet ministers and many more political leaders to chastise him.

A week later, several states started banning him from holding public speeches, before a nationwide ban was issued by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) on 19 August.

Despite the controversy, Zakir Naik remained in the country although India has repeatedly requested Malaysia to extradite the preacher.

Moreover, Zakir Naik even sued three DAP leaders for defamation and demanded news outlets to issue a public apology, reported Malay Mail.

9. "Malaysia is for Malays"

On 6 October, the Malay Dignity Congress gathered over 5,000 participants and the event discussed topics about sovereignty and special position of the Malay race.

The chief organiser of the congress, Zainal Kling, said on stage that 'Malaysia is for Malays', threatening that the social contract with non-Malays that formed the country can be terminated any time.

The event was attended by various political party leaders, including Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, and more.

Many have questioned the foundation of the congress and accused Dr Mahathir of being a racist for attending it, reported theSundaily.

A non-Malay journalist from Malaysiakini, who shared her experience of covering the Congress, said the event made her felt "uncomfortable" - a feeling that was not mutual with 5,000-strong crowd.

The same sentiment was also echoed by a BFM reporter in a show where he did a 2019 overview of Malaysia's media landscape. He said the congress, as well as UMNO-PAS union press conference, were events where "you don't actually feel like you're in Malaysia".

10. Syed Saddiq and Foodpanda protests

Image via CNA

In early October, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq supported a protest against food delivery company Foodpanda.

Riders, or gig-economy workers, of Foodpanda complained that the company was imposing an unfair pay cut.

In the tweet on 7 October, Syed Saddiq said consumers have the power to bring down "arrogant" corporations, just like how the rakyat can vote out elected representatives.

"Arrogance is not the solution. Only support a corporation that is fair to workers and consumers," he tweeted.

When asked by reporters, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mahathir said that Syed Saddiq's stance on the issue was solely his own and the 'boycott Foodpanda' rhetoric was not shared by the Cabinet.

While the boycott against Foodpanda was going strong on Twitter, some netizens questioned the reason of the Youth Minister meddling in a private company's matter.

11. SRC trial and a "shocked" Najib

After a seven-month long trial where the prosecution team called up 57 witnesses to the court, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was ordered by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to enter defence in the SRC case.

This is one of the main highlights among other Najib's trial developments in 2019. The former premier is currently facing seven charges in the SRC case and 42 charges in the 1MDB case - all in relation to corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering.

In response to the KL High Court ruling on 11 November, Najib said he was shocked as he thought he would be acquitted.

Najib's lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said that Najib felt 'sad' by the court's decision as he contended that his team had presented overwhelming submissions.

However, Najib said he remained hopeful as this will be an opportunity for him to clear his name in court.

Meanwhile, Shafee cautioned that the case may drag on until the 15th General Election, which will go through the Court of Appeal and eventually the Federal Court.

12. FINAS CEO and a "need" for Netflix to be censored

Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri, then-chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), reportedly wanted the government to censor popular online streaming platform Netflix.

Berita Harian quoted him as saying on 16 November that the content available on Netflix Malaysia "needs to be controlled due to parental concerns".

His suggestion caused a public outcry as many contended that the platform has parental control features, reported New Straits Times.

However, he later clarified in a Twitter thread that he only wanted to push for a collaboration between FINAS and National Council of Women's Organisations so that they can organise a forum to discuss issues pertinent to empowering future digital content.

Ahmad Idham resigned last month, cutting short his tenure as FINAS CEO from two years to one, reported New Straits Times.

This came after netizens accused him of endorsing a local streaming platform called Aflix while trying to snuff out competitor Netflix.

With immense attention diverted to Aflix, its founder and CEO, Fadzil Hashim, clarified that Ahmad Idham did not endorse Aflix and their recent meeting was merely a formal visit.

Fadzil went on to promote that Aflix as an "ethical" streaming platform in comparison to Netflix.

He even claimed that parents who are upset by the demand to censor Netflix "do not love their children" because the giant streaming platform contains crude language and representations of LGBT.

13. "Excuse me, is that Chin Peng's ashes or what?"

On 3 December, Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman asked Jelutong MP RSN Rayer in the Dewan Rakyat if the holy mark on Rayer's forehead was former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng's ashes.

Rayer was wearing a Hindu holy mark called 'vibhuti' at the time.

"Excuse me, is that Chin Peng's ashes or what?" Tajuddin asked Rayer repeatedly before the latter acknowledged it.

Rayer said Tajuddin's comment is an insult to all Hindus in Malaysia.

An altercation ensued between Barisan National MPs and Pakatan Harapan MPs, before Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof finally ordered Tajuddin and another MP from Pakatan Harapan to leave the august House.

Mohamad Ariff also imposed a two-day suspension on Tajuddin and Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Teong.

14. Plot thickens in Altantuya's murder case

Azilah Hadri, who is on death row for murdering Altantuya Shaariibuu, confessed that he killed the Mongolian national.

A former Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel himself, Azilah made the revelation in a statutory declaration (SD), alleging that the order to kill Altantuya came from former prime minister Datuk Sri Najib Razak.

The shocking revelation cast a new light on the infamous murder case which took place in 2006, when Najib was serving as the deputy premier and Defence Minister.

In an immediate response, Najib claimed that the SD is politically manipulated.

"Why did this information not come out earlier, and only now, more than a decade after her death and only after 19 months Harapan has been in power?" Najib said on 16 December.

Since then, Najib's lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, claimed that a certain VVIP had visited Azilah outside of his prison, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Speculations were rife that the VVIP was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but the Prime Minister Office had refutes the claim, reported Malaysiakini.

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