Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Haziq video scandal is really bizarre

As with most things in politics, whom you believe tends to depend on whom you support. It's no coincidence that those who are quick to dismiss the Haziq videos are Azmin supporters and those who say, "let's wait to see the outcome of the investigations" happen to be Anwar supporters.

There are so many things that are weird about this situation. Let's start with the timing of it.

The fact that this video came out soon after Latheefa Koya was unilaterally appointed MACC chief has got conspiracy theorists in a frenzy. Remember, the allegations are not just that Azmin was involved in an affair with Haziq but also that he was involved in corruption.

If you are into conspiracy theories, there are two ways to look at it. One conspiracy theory is that Dr M knew this scandal was about to explode to he put in an Azmin supporter in charge of MACC to ensure that he is protected.

The other conspiracy theory is that whoever leaked the videos did so right after Latheefa was appointed to make it look like it was all done to protect Azmin.

There are problems with both conspiracy theories. With regard to the first one, nobody believes Latheefa is willing to be a pawn in anybody's Machiavellian games. She may be an Azmin supporter (or anti-Anwar, depending on how you look at it) but she is seen as someone with high integrity and will not defend someone if there is evidence of wrongdoing by that person. Besides, early indications are that the corruption allegation seem to be false, although investigations are ongoing).

As for the second one, for the leaker to have timed the release of the videos right after Latheefa was appointed mean that leaker knew about the impending appointment. How would anyone know? Even Dr M's Cabinet did not know.

Now, let's look at Haziq's allegation. He did not claim that he was sexually assaulted or that there was any coercion involved. But if the duo were willing partners (or lovers) why would he turn on Azmin? And why would he claim Azmin was corrupt? On the face of it, it does sound like this was designed to smear Azmin.

But it's worth mentioning that even if an action is meant to ruin someone politically, it doesn't mean that person was not the person in the video. We don't know if that person was Azmin or not. There was an overseas article where several video forensics experts were asked to verify the authenticity of the video clips. Their conclusion was that it was not a fake or doctored video although they couldn't say whether the other person involved was Azmin or not. What they could say was simply that it was not a deepfake.

So, if the video is real, who is the person with Haziq (assuming that was Haziq in the video). Was it someone wearing make up to look like Azmin?

Also, it Haziq wanted to frame Azmin, and assuming for the sake of discussion that Azmin was the one in the video, shouldn't he have installed a HD camera instead? Shouldn't he have accumulated more damning evidence then some grainy video footage?

If the investigators are doing their job properly, video forensics specialists should be engaged to verify the authenticity of the video and perhaps they could give their judgement on how likely the people in the video are actually Haziq and Azmin.

Secondly, CCTV footage of the hotel should be reviewed to see if these two men entered the same room and how long they were in the room etc.

All these types of things and more needs to be looked into. These are extraordinary accusations being made by Haziq and fervent denials by Azmin. The authorities have to get to the bottom of this and I believe in the end they will.

In the meantime, it's pointless arguing one way or the other. It's not convincing for Dr M to have simply dismiss the videos even before the investigations had begun. It's also not right for people to jump to conclusions about Azmin. The truth will eventually come out and it might not look good for either party.

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