The present prime minister was (rightly) highly questioning over the extraordinary and lavish wedding celebrations conducted by the former, Najib Razik, for his off-spring. Mahathir in 2015 wanted to know where the money had come from?
It remains an issue when politicians with no declared and explained assets of any significance persist in this practice of ‘power weddings’ in the full glare of the social scene in KL, where they plainly wish to impress and gain patronage.
Inevitably, the latest such peacock display consisting of three days of no-expense-spared partying at the Mandarin Oriental five star hotel, has started circulating in the form of photos and videos on social media.
It is the second such Azmin Ali family wedding in little more than a year and plainly cost a bomb. Yet this politician has cited no more than his political salary and a KL house in his asset declaration and both he and his family come from modest backgrounds and means.
The same politician is in the midst of a court case relating to RM300,000 of unpaid personal and family travel bills pertaining to a period of a few months earlier in the year, which can only have made such an ostentatious lay out embarrassing for his many prestigious guests. Whom among them will not have quietly speculated to their confidants that it was a mighty big splash for someone already owing RM300k on an MP’s salary?
Of course, a benefactor may have paid, but when one is the economics minister in charge of major public financial decisions and billion ringgit tenders, such offers are best turned down. At the very least, the source of the funding for this joyous extravaganza ought to be declared. If it was a wealthy in-law perhaps they could step forward and put paid to speculation?
However, the response of this minister so far to any prodding on the matter of his means has been to go onto the offensive. Whilst agreeing to pay up on at least some of the bills he admits he owes, Azmin Ali has announced to the media he intends to ‘counter-sue’ YHA Travel on the basis that the information about his failures to pay their invoices could only have been leaked to Sarawak Report. In fact, the material passed to Sarawak Report was downloaded electronically from the KL High Court’s online web portal.
The extrapolation that Sarawak Report was therefore somehow involved in the formation and circulation of an intrusive and unproven video that has separately embarrassed this same minister is clearly defamatory and completely false.
By linking these two previously separate matters, on the other hand, the economics minister has revealed a hitherto unknown apparent motive behind his failure to pay the travel bill that has nothing to do with lack of funds. By suggesting the ‘leak’ was linked to the circulation of the video, Azmin has indicated that his refusal to pay may be owing to anger over what he has suggested was an involvement by a member of the travel agency in the circulation of the video.
This accusation would seem false, given that the other man identified in the video has openly declared himself to have been the person who recorded it and circulated it – in what appears to have been a privately motivated act.
In short, the claims in this ‘counter-suit’ indicate the actual reason behind Azmin Ali’s non-payment of hefty bills owed to YHA Travel are less to do with not being able to pay than refusing to pay out of (probably misdirected) anger and suspicion relating to the ‘Sandakan sex video’, which Azmin Ali has declared to be a hoax.
This may have relaxed concerns on the part of the Mandarin Hotel and an army of wedding organisers and decorators about their client’s ability to meet their enormous bills. However, in terms of accountability of political leaders such displays of unexplained wealth make troubling viewing for the wider public, who voted in this new government with reform and transparency in mind.
Intriguingly, according to the video records now circulating on social media, guests who saw fit to find time to engage in this social show of the year included members of Mahathir’s family and the old PM himself, several ministers, dignatories, members of UMNO involved in Azmin’s recent alleged ‘back door’ attempts to achieve a majority to overthrow his own party boss – and none other than Malaysia’s IGP, the man who is presently conducting an investigation into the authenticity of that very ‘Sandakan sex tape’.
The same IGP is also tasked with investigating new claims by an office clerk into alleged indecent behaviour by Azmin’s self-same party boss, prime minister designate Anwar Ibrahim.
This was therefore a party the IGP would have done well to have avoided, in the spirit of doing things properly in the ‘New Malaysia’.