Kuala Lumpur — Fresh from the ruckus that Nurul Izzah stirred when she made critical remarks about Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to a Singaporean news outlet recently, her father, fellow MP and Prime Minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, defended her by saying her disappointment was not only against the prime minister but involved the larger Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance-led government.
Speaking to members of the media on Tues, Mar 26, Mr Anwar also said that Nurul Izzah had actually made these comments a while ago but did not say exactly when.
Malay Mail reports him as saying, “The statements were made during an interview some time ago, and was blown up by the Singapore Strait Times (sic), so why should we quarrel over it?”
Furthermore, he also defended her on his Facebook page also on March 26, wherein he praised her in Malay as a “symbol of the family’s strength.”
In her Mar 22 interview with Singapore’s leading English-language broadsheet The Straits Times, she had said that she was dissatisfied with Mahathir’s government and “heartbroken” at having to work with him. Moreover, she called Mahathir a “former dictator.”
Anwar told the press that undue attention was being given to Nurul Izzah’s use of that phrase.
Regarding her comments, Malay Mail reports thaf Anwar had this to say: “But, I think it was not wholly aimed at Tun Mahathir, but also directed towards others who voiced their opinions, and attacked each other.”
Anwar reiterated his family’s support for Mahathir’s leadership. His wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is currently serving as the country’s the first female deputy prime minister.
Anwar also said that the PH government is open to critical remarks from within its members, telling members of the media at parliament, “We give space, as this does not mean we cannot have differences in opinions, or offer criticism.”
On Mar 23, it confirmed in the Malaysian media that she had resigned from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). It is widely believed that Nurul Izzah stepped down from PAC due to Mahathir’s decision to let AC chairman Ronald Kiandee to stay on as PAC’s chairman, even though he is not an opposition MP.
The PH had pledged during last year’s elections that the PAC chairman would be a member of the opposition.
Nurul Izzah wrote on her Facebook account on that day, “The chairperson of the PAC must be filled by the opposition to pursue accountability of the Executive.”
Mahathir had responded to Nurul Izzah’s critical remarks on Mon, Mar 25, by saying, “Never mind, many people are disappointed. I am also disappointed with them.”
However, Nurul Izzah’s remarks were criticised by other Malaysian leaders, including Mahathir’s political secretary, who wrote, “What is being done by the prime minister and the government currently should not be seen in a personal context by Nurul Izzah, but must be seen as a whole in the interest of the people and nation.”
He also called her immature and irrational, and said that she failed to comprehend the Prime Minister’s position.
The country’s Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali also took umbrage at Nurul Izzah’s comments. He tweeted, “This country needs doers who are prepared to tough it out all the way, not cry babies. Whatever it takes, we must make it work. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
On Facebook, Anwar Ibrahim wrote about the difficulty that Nurul Izzah has had to face in her young life and that she deserves to air her opinion. He praised her for devoting “part of her life to enabling reforms in the country.”
“Izzah is our child. As a father, her happiness and well-being are my priority…
The hardships and tribulations that the family has suffered over the past two decades have been impressive. Izzah rose to be a symbol of family power and devoted part of her life to enabling reforms in the country.
Izzah is entitled and worthy of giving views. And our family will continue to focus on Malaysia’s future with the Pakatan Harapan government of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”