Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad threw punches in the air in a mock fight with Justice Party president Anwar Ibrahim followed by Anwar’s misunderstood remarks on a Pakatan minister’s presence at the Malay Dignity Congress.
Dr Mahathir showed some impatience towards the querying media on the issue of cronyism, turning to Anwar who was sitting next to him and throwing his fists in the air in a mock challenge.
“You want me to fight? Ok lah, we fight lah,” Mahathir said, to laughter all around, asking reporters if they wanted him to fight Anwar.
In the same video, Anwar replied to the mock fight with ‘be patient’ to Dr Mahathir, sparking more laughter among the crowd and Pakatan Harapan leaders.
But another video circulating online shows Anwar leaving a press conference with Dr Mahathir and Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu.
Anwar is heard jokingly saying in Malay to Mohamad Sabu, the Amanah president, that Mahathir had become more spirited after attending the Malay Dignity Congress.
But some media are saying Anwar did not say the word ‘dignity’ in Malay which is ‘maruah’ but said ‘baruah’ which is translated as ‘pimp’ and is used in politics as a slur against opponents.
Dr Mahathir is seen packing his stuff from the conference table, ignoring Anwar’s remarks, while Mohamad Sabu did not reply to Anwar but walked away from the scene.
Later on, Anwar denied saying ‘baruah’, saying he was joking about the Malay Dignity Congress while Mohamad Sabu said the media should ask Anwar himself what he said as he was too far away to have heard Anwar’s comments.
The short video clip of the conversation made the rounds on social media, drawing a response from Mahathir’s political secretary Zahid Md Arip who said a mispronunciation of the word by Anwar could lead to problems.
Signs of friction within the Pakatan Harapan is undeniable with the two events pieced together showing a potential rift between some ministers and Anwar.
Anwar rubbished the allegation made by Mahathir loyalist Khairuddin Abu Hassan who pledged to stop Anwar from becoming PM, alleging that Anwar referred to the Malay Dignity Congress as a ‘barua congress’.
But Anwar insists he said ‘maruah’ when joking with Prime Minister and Mohamad Sabu. -/TISG