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After sex tape, Malaysia health minister resigns

Malaysia's health minister resigned Wednesday after acknowledging that he and a female friend were the couple in a secretly filmed sex video.
Image: Malaysia's Health Minister Chua Soi Lek
Malaysia's Health Minister Chua Soi Lek announces his resignation on Wednesday.Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

Malaysia's health minister resigned Wednesday after acknowledging that he and a female friend were the couple in a secretly filmed sex video.

A one-hour DVD recording circulated anonymously last week showed Health Minister Chua Soi Lek, a married man with three children, performing sexual acts with the woman in a hotel room.

Chua, 61, acknowledged Tuesday he was the man in the video, and described the woman as a "personal friend." He refused to elaborate.

The former physician has risen fast in the government in recent years, but the scandal turned into a high-profile embarrassment for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who brought Chua into the Cabinet in 2004.

Chua said he was resigning immediately as health minister, a member of Parliament and vice president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the No. 2 party in Abdullah's ruling coalition.

On Tuesday, he had said he would not quit his Cabinet post despite concerns that the scandal would provide political ammunition for opposition groups, which often raise allegations of government immorality and misconduct.

An about turn
Chua told reporters Wednesday he felt the need to take responsibility for his actions.

"I think that anyone who is a leader has to be responsible for his mistakes or weaknesses," Chua said. "I feel proud at least I dared to admit. I never said that it was not me (in the DVD). I never even said that it was doctored."

But he said that he had discovered that people "could not accept" his public apology.

"Some Malaysians have a holier-than-thou attitude," he said.

The about-turn appeared aimed at helping the government curtail any political fallout ahead of general elections widely expected by mid-2008.

Abdullah described the resignation as appropriate, saying it was not discussed at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting. He said an acting health minister would be appointed from Chua's party.

"As a minister, he has committed an act that cannot be accepted by society, instead of being a leader who maintains his integrity," said Mahfuz Omar, an official in the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

Chua had apologized to his family and supporters Tuesday. He said he did not make the film, suggesting it was made by his political rivals. In a statement Tuesday, Chua's wife said she stood by her husband.

As health minister, Chua has been praised for cutting bureaucratic delays in the medical service and working to combat AIDS, smoking and poor eating habits.