I Am Still A Virgin

April 30th, 1999

Anwar Accuser Denies Being 'Small-Time Hooker', Sues Newspaper

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 (AFP) - A key witness in the trial of ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim sued a Malaysian newspaper for libel Friday, alleging that she was described as a "small-time hooker" in a satirical article last month.

Ummi Hafilda Ali, the sister of Anwar's former private secretary, filed the suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, her lawyer said.

She said Ummi was seeking damages of 60 million ringgit (16 million dollars) from Harakah, a popular twice-weekly newspaper published by the opposition Parti Islam Semalaysia (PAS).

Defendants named were the party itself along with the holder of Harakah's publishing licence, the editor, the printer and the writer Sabri Zain, who is also the spokesman for the local branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

"The article has put me to great shame," Ummi was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper Friday, referring to the March 29 edition of Harakah.

"I cannot accept it, particularly when they labelled me a small-time prostitute," the 32-year-old advertising executive reportedly told a news conference late Thursday. "I am still a virgin."

Ummi was one of two key prosecution witnesses in Anwar's five-month trial which ended earlier this month with his conviction on four corruption charges.

Anwar, who was fired and arrested in September last year, is now serving a six-year sentence but faces a second trial on a sodomy charge involving a former driver who was closely acquainted with Ummi.

Ummi reportedly challenged Harakah to prove the allegations even though she was not specifically named in the article.

"If they say I am a hooker, then I must have my clientele," she was quoted as saying in Friday's edition of The Sun, adding that Harakah "will not be able to find any witnesses or any customers who subscribed to my sexual services.

"I also challenge it to submit any proof in any form -- be it mattress, pillow, clothes, video or pictures -- to prove that I am a hooker," she said.

Her remarks were splashed across the front pages of most newspapers here Friday, with headlines ranging from "I'm No Whore" and "I'm Still a Virgin" to the more sober "Ummi Denounces Moslem Article."

Harakah is the official organ of PAS which has enjoyed a surge in membership following Anwar's arrest. The newspaper itself has seen a jump in circulation, prompting it to expand the number of pages and add colour in recent months.

The article in question was a political satire on Malaysia sweeping 10 Oscars at the Academy Awards in March, with a fictional actress called "Ummi Thurman Ali" appearing in three films and winning the award for best actress.

During Anwar's trial, Ummi repeatedly denied she was obsessed with the former deputy prime minister and angrily rejected assertions from the defence that she used to keep a picture of Anwar on her pillow.

But she admitted being disowned by her father, blaming the family feud on her brother Azmin Mohamad Ali who used to be Anwar's private secretary. Another brother is a flamboyant local television star.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1997, Ummi accused Anwar of having sex with the driver as well as Azmin's wife.

The letter was one of the main pieces of prosecution evidence submitted to the trial which found Anwar guilty of using his position to get police to cover up the allegations of sexual misconduct.

Note: For the article in question, click here

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