When a dad is pitted against son

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DESPICABLE ACT: Saiful blames Anwar for manipulating father into becoming pawn

 THERE was something dubious about the unprecedented press conference held by Saiful Bukhari Azlan's father, Azlan Mohd Lazim yesterday afternoon when he debunked opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's involvement in the case which was dubbed as "Sodomy II". 

For a start, only a select few media organisations were invited, including pro-Opposition online journalists and party news organs Harakah and Suara Keadilan.

The media conference was called by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sungai Petani member of parliament, Johari Abdul.

The 60-year-old Azlan, who had previously fought tooth-and-nail to defend his son and had persistently berated Anwar for his alleged involvement, read a two-page statement admonishing the purported conspiracy which he indirectly claimed was hatched by the government.

The press conference went on for about 30 minutes and Azlan did not reply much to the questions fielded by the journalists. Some of the newsmen were said to be too stunned upon the "revelation" made by Azlan and were unable to question him further.

Azlan went as far as to name Saiful's lawyer, Zamri Idrus, and a special officer to the prime minister, Khairil Anuar Jusoh, as the ones who scripted the accusations against Anwar.

However, he described Saiful as a filial son.

"I was there only for my son during the proceedings, to give him morale support. He had lost his mother. But I never believed Anwar was guilty. As a Muslim, I do not want to be part of this fitnah (slander) anymore. It is a very well-crafted conspiracy," said Azlan.

Eyebrows were certainly raised. This, coming from a man who supported and accompanied Saiful during the much talked-about sumpah laknat oath at 6.15pm on Aug 15, 2008, at the Federal Territories Mosque in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, is nothing short of a major befuddlement.

Something was definitely amiss with the whole affair. For one, the election is just around the corner. Azlan's about-turn also came on the heels of accusations alluding to the involvement of the opposition in the Lahad Datu stand-off.

Saiful, at a press conference at Zamri's office in Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday evening, expressed his utter disappointment and shock upon reading an online news break regarding his father's statement.

He was choked with emotions, right there in front of a horde of journalists. That moment was captured by a battery of cameras, and recordings of it is widely available on cyber.

In a statement he had prepared himself, Saiful squarely blamed Anwar for allegedly manipulating his father into becoming his pawn -- "all to satiate the PKR de facto leader's political avarice".

Saiful also revealed that during the sodomy proceedings, his family members were constantly harassed by people allegedly demanding the case to be dropped. He was clearly dumbfounded while trying to ramify what had taken place.

"I tried to call my father after reading the news report but he had switched off his phone. My father and I are close. We don't argue and never really talked about the case (after the sentencing was meted out). But my relatives have thrown their support behind me.

"Still, I'm not sure how Anwar did it, to manipulate my father. But this is very unbecoming of him, since he was with me everyday during the trial and even held a press conference for me after the sentencing (Anwar was acquitted on a technicality)."

The presence of a PKR MP during the press conference held by his father was also questioned by Saiful and his lawyer Zamri; both were convinced that Anwar undoubtedly had a hand in what had transpired.

Saiful was candid when he said he was not sure why Azlan had reversed his stand on the case, but with a stern look, he was insistent that Anwar had found a way to "confuse" his father.

Zamri, at the same time, reiterated that it was impossible for him and the prime minister's special officer Khairil to concoct the case since it had went for a full trial and Saiful had given his testimony under oath.

The case will be heard in the Appeals Court on July 22 and 23, according to Zamri.

If it's true that Azlan was manipulated to debunk the accusations in the face of a mounting criticism against Pakatan Rakyat, this may go down asas one of the most memorable political diversions pulled by the opposition pact.

It may also be the one of the most despicable act when a father is pitted against his own son.


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