Sex, sabotage and videotape in Malaysian campaign
Malaysia's ruling establishment has been accused of resorting to "gutter politics" as a bruising election campaign starts amid outrage over sex videos and opposition charges of sabotage.world Updated: Apr 21, 2013 14:13 IST
Malaysia's ruling establishment has been accused of resorting to "gutter politics" as a bruising election campaign starts amid outrage over sex videos and opposition charges of sabotage.
The May 5 vote looks to be a typically hard-fought and polarising Malaysian election as a 56-year-old regime faces the fight of its life against a rising opposition.
But analysts warn negative tactics in the campaign that officially began on Saturday could backfire on the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
Premier Najib Razak had pledged to oversee a civil election run but advocates for a clean campaign have cried foul over alleged improprieties in what one group has warned will be Malaysia's "dirtiest election ever".
A top figure in an opposition Islamic party in the Muslim-majority nation was forced recently to deny involvement over an online video claiming to show him in a tryst with a young woman.
The opposition said more such videos were expected, including one purportedly involving Nurul Izzah Anwar, the parliamentarian daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was himself targeted in a 2011 sex video claim.
Reports of election violence have mounted, mostly involving attacks on opposition supporters, with one man reportedly in a coma after being beaten.
Adverts have run in some areas suggesting the opposition would impose Islamic law on non-Muslims, which the opposition decries as dangerous religious fear-mongering.
"I deplore gutter politics and demand that Prime Minister Najib have the decency to not only condemn but also to ensure those behind the sex videos and political violence face the full brunt of the law," Nurul Izzah told AFP.
Najib's office did not respond to a request for comment.
UMNO became notorious for hardball tactics under authoritarian leader Mahathir Mohamad, who dominated Malaysia for 22 years until retiring in 2003.
The most searing example involved Anwar, who was poised to inherit UMNO's reins but was ousted in a 1998 power struggle with Mahathir that saw Anwar jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges widely seen as dubious.
The affair threw Anwar into the three-party opposition, which he led to its best showing ever in the 2008 elections.
Anwar last year was acquitted in another sodomy case and denies any link to the 2011 video.