PETALING JAYA - An Umno Youth exco member has come out to defend the wing's move to host public forums explaining Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy conviction.
Ibdilillah Ishak said the forums featuring the lead prosecutor of the trial, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, were intended to dismiss accusations that Umno was the mastermind behind the Opposition Leader's political downfall.
"We were quiet all this while because we respected the trial that went on for six years. Now that it is over, it is time for us to do the necessary to clear the lies that Umno orchestrated this case.
"If we do not do anything about it, it will result in the people believing that we were responsible for the imprisonment of Anwar," he said in a statement, Thursday.
Ibdilillah, who is also the Umno Youth social media chairman, said the forum that was held recently at the Kapten Hussein Leadership Academy (Akhi) was conducted with the aim at dispelling negative perception through "concrete and substantiated facts".
"It was a two-way forum that had a question and answer session and the attendees were not prevented from raising any kind of questions," he said.
Umno Youth has come under fire from the Opposition for organising the series of forums, which continued to criticise Anwar, even after he was sentenced to a five years in prison by the Federal Court for sodomising his former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
At the forum, Shafee gave extensive details of the encounter between Anwar and Saiful, and eventually described that the PKR adviser was a "closet gay", and a possible national threat.
Ibdilillah also lashed out against PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad for challenging the wing's chief Khairy Jamaluddin to a debate on the matter.
"Why did he not challenge Anwar's legal counsel to a debate instead of failing to defend him?" he asked.