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"A penny for your thoughts"

Friday, January 4, 2008

Malaysia's health minister quits over sex scandal



Malaysia Cabinet 2006

video

Malaysia's health minister quit his post yesterday (2ndJan2007)after a sex scandal in which he featured in two pornographic videos where he was shown with a woman he described as a "personal friend".

Chua Soi Lek, 61, stepped down a day after conceding that he was the man shown indulging in various sexual acts in the DVDs which were widely circulated in the minister's home state of Johor.

Chua, a former doctor who is married with three children, had initially refused to resign after saying he had apologised to the Malaysian prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, and his family who had accepted his remorse. But with a general election he decided to spare the government further embarrassment and limit the political fallout in the conservative, predominantly Muslim country.

The official news agency Bernama reported that Abdullah has accepted Chua's

"I felt it was an appropriate decision," Abdullah was quoted saying, "I thanked him for taking into consideration the negative impact this (scandal) might have on the government and the party."

The vacant ministerial post, he added, will be filled by a candidate from MCA.

The minister said he was relinquishing all posts, including his seat as an MP and vice-president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second party in the ruling coalition. In a news conference Chua bemoaned the fact that people "could not accept" his public apology. "Some Malaysians have a holier-than-thou attitude," he said.







The two pornographic DVDs - one 56 minutes long and the other 44 - began circulating late last week. Many were left in public places for people to take for viewing, with a copy finally passed to Chua by a friend on Sunday.

According to local newspapers reports, there were two discs believed to have been made two years ago. Both discs appeared to be closed- circuit television recordings from a hotel room. One disc lasted 56 minutes and the other 44 minutes.

The Malaysian media put the story on its front pages on Tuesday, forcing Chua to concede his role in the video and reveal his apology to the prime minister.

But Chua stressed he had not made the video and did not know who was behind distribution of the material believed to have been recorded in a hotel room in southern Malaysia two years ago. Chua has not filed a complaint with police but officers are investigating how four hidden cameras were secreted in a hotel room.

"Power struggles within BN (the Malay acronym for the National Front) are common in the jostling for positions before general elections which benefit individual selfish interests at the expense of public interests," he said in a statement.

Chua fueled the notion when he alluded that he was a target of a smear campaign because of his rapid rise in the party.

"Being seen as a threat by some quarters is normal in politics," he said.

MCA called for an emergency meeting Wednesday. Party President Ong Ka Ting said they have accepted Chua's resignation and strongly condemned those who made the tapes.

Ong said the party has submitted several names to Abdullah as Chua's replacement in the health ministry.

Chua's sex scandal poses another headache for Abdullah, who is now expected to delay calling an election following a series of antigovernment protests ranging from those demanding poll reform to minorities seeking equal rights.

The general election is not due until mid-2009 but some quarters had predicted one would be called as early as the first quarter of this year.

Chua, a trained medical doctor, was named health minister after Abdullah led his coalition to a landslide victory in the 2004 election.
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