By Reme Ahmad, The Straits Times
THE young man at the centre of a political storm in Malaysia was known inside Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as someone who had been ‘planted by the other side’, a senior party official claimed yesterday.
The name of Mr Saiful Bukhari Azlan was on the lips of many Malaysians after police said he had lodged a report that he had been sodomised by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
But not much else seems to be known about the 23-year-old.
Party officials say Mr Saiful joined PKR as a volunteer around the time of the March 8 general election, and was a former student of Universiti Tenaga Nasional.
PKR president and the wife of Mr Anwar, Wan Azizah Ismail, said little was known of Mr Saiful then and that no background check was done as he was just a volunteer.
When this reporter had a chance meeting with Mr Saiful three weeks ago at the new PKR office in Petaling Jaya, he said that he had joined Mr Anwar’s office ‘a few months ago’.
The tall and good-looking young man was mingling and exchanging cards with other reporters while everyone waited for a press conference called by Mr Anwar.
His business card bore no title. It only had his name and stated that he worked in the ‘Office of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’.
He suggested to this reporter that he should try and accompany Mr Anwar when the politician launched his June rallies around the country to talk about the fuel price hikes.
But PKR’s programme director, Mr Din Merican, has given another picture of the man.
Mr Din, writing in his blog yesterday, said: ‘My colleagues and I knew that he was planted by the other side. So we kept him under surveillance since the day he turned up in our office just before the March 2008 elections.
‘It was a matter of time, and we would have exposed him as someone with links to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister. He knew that the noose was tightening around his neck.’
Mr Din said Mr Saiful played a tiny role in PKR.
‘There was no security breach because he (Saiful) was not directly involved in the strategic activities of Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He was merely a coffee boy or a butler type.’
Internet chatrooms are abuzz about the man.
Many people zoomed in on a blog of his university friend, Mr Najwan Halimi, who had posted a picture of Mr Saiful and written about their chance encounter in February.
The blogger said Mr Saiful was deputy president of the students’ union for the 2006/2007 session.
Mr Saiful replied on the same day to say that he had been struggling with his life and detailed his poor marks in his engineering examinations.
He did not say what course he was taking, but in a long reply he said he took it because it was the wish of his late mother.
He then said that he was dropping out and had been accepted as a trainee pilot at a flight school in Kelantan, from this month.
‘From when I was young, my ambition is not as you guys thought which is to be a Politician. My ambition is to be a Pilot,’ Mr Saiful wrote.
It is not clear if he managed to start his training.