KUALA LUMPUR - UNIVERSITY friends of Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the young man at the centre of the sex-assault scandal that has rocked Malaysia, has rallied to him, saying that he is a good guy with leadership skills and was well liked by fellow students and lecturers.
Mr Saiful, a student of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Universiti Tenaga Nasional before dropping out with poor grades earlier this year, lodged a police report last Saturday claiming that he was sodomised by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Parti Keadilan Raykyat (PKR), where he was an aide to the former Deputy Prime Minister.
The New Straits Times on Wednesday reported that he was well liked by fellow students, some of whom had looked to him as a role model.
'He was active in the student body, even becoming vice-president of the student council at one point,' said a friend identified as Donny.
NST quoted another friend, Daniel, as saying: 'He would help everyone, regardless of race or class, a genuine kind of person. That was why I was shocked when I read his claims on having been sodomised by Anwar.'
He added that Mr Saiful, who was active in the university's Islamic Club, did not show any homosexual tendencies.
Another friend dismissed talk that Saiful was 'pro-Umno' or 'pro-government' based on the pictures of him posing with cabinet ministers.
'Of course, as a student leader, you're expected to work closely with government officials at times. But I've never known him to be a diehard supporter of any political cause,' he said.
'Saiful probably just wanted to show off to his friends that he had met these politicians. That's the only reason why he had pictures taken with them.'
He said Mr Saiful had dropped out of university because he paid too much attention to extra-curricular activities.
Mr Saiful is said to be under police protection at an unknown location.
Quoting Parti Keadilan Rakyat sources, NST said Mr Saiful started working for Mr Anwar's office during the general election campaign period. He was then an assistant to Mr Rahimi Osman, one of Mr Anwar's aides.
'He was known as Rahimi's 'coffee boy', doing a lot of menial work like photocopying papers and making phone calls,' a source told NST.
When Mr Rahimi resigned about a month ago, Mr Ibrahim Yaacob, Mr Anwar's chief of staff, took over and was also assisted by Mr Saiful.
Mr Ibrahim said Mr Saiful was never on the party's payroll and had worked as a volunteer.
source: new strait times