Malaysia's Anwar says facing 'malicious' probe on list of backers for PM bid

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to media members after being questioned by the Malaysian police over an investigation of a viral list of 121 federal lawmakers, allegedly backing his bid to take over the premiership from Muhyiddin Yassin, outside Bukit Aman police headquarters, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng reuters_tickers
This content was published on October 17, 2020 - 07:25

By Liz Lee

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday said a police investigation into a list that purports to show lawmakers backing his bid for the premiership was a "malicious" attempt to pressure him into revealing the identities of his supporters.

Police summoned Anwar to assist with a probe into the distribution of a list of 121 lawmakers who allegedly back his bid to take over as prime minister from Muhyiddin Yassin. The list has been circulated on social media.

Anwar, who spent about two hours giving a statement to investigators, said only the king had the right to know the full details of lawmakers who he says are backing him to give majority support in parliament.

"I'm not here to cooperate with the political masters to give names, because it is not their business. It's between me and His Highness, the Agong," Anwar told reporters outside Bukit Aman police headquarters, using the Malay term for the king.

"It's clearly malicious. It's clearly a political harassment and clearly from my understanding there is a political instruction to the police."

He also told reporters that he was under investigation by the police for six cases, including an allegation of sodomy.

The police in a statement on Saturday denied that political pressure had played a part in their investigation.

"The investigation was conducted in a professional manner without any political pressure or instructions from any parties," it said.

Anwar on Tuesday met with King Al-Sultan Abdullah to present documentation in a bid to prove he has a "convincing" parliamentary majority to form a new government.

But the palace later said Anwar had only provided the number of lawmakers who he said backed his bid to become prime minister and not their identities, and urged him to respect the constitutional process.

The police statement confirmed Anwar is being investigated for six cases, including a sodomy allegation and for making a claim that Muhyiddin's adminstration has fallen due to lack of parliamentary support.

Anwar, who spent nearly 10 years in jail on sodomy charges he denied, said on Friday that he regarded the sodomy allegation as a political plot to pressure him at a crucial time.

(Writing by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Ed Davies and Edwina Gibbs)

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