Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad was none too pleased with the critical comments made by Nurul Izzah Anwar in an interview with The Straits Times (ST), though he kept his response brief. Other politicians, however, were more acerbic.
At a civil service event on March 25, Monday, a journalist asked Dr Mahathir about Ms Nurul’s interview, which had been published on Friday, March 22.
Prime Minister merely remarked, “Never mind, many people are disappointed. I am also disappointed with them.” He said nothing further.
Ms Nurul is the oldest child of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s Prime Minister-in-waiting, and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is currently serving as the country’s the first female Deputy Prime Minister.
Ms Nurul is also a three-term Member of Parliament in Malaysia and a political figure in her own right.
In her interview, she told the Singaporean newspaper that she was dissatisfied with Dr Mahathir’s government and “heartbroken” at having to work with him. Moreover, she called the Prime Minister a “dictator.”
She added that because she no longer had faith in Dr Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition government, she would step down from her position in Parliament after her term ends.
Ms Nurul also harked back to when her father, Anwar Ibrahim, had been fired from his position as deputy prime minister and then imprisoned in 1998, saying that this had taken a toll on their relationship.
On March 23, the day after Ms Nurul’s ST interview was published, it published in Malaysian media that she had resigned from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in parliament. The New Straits Times says that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) communications director Fahmi Fadzil confirmed this.
It is widely believed that Ms Nurul stepped down from PAC due to Dr Mahathir’s decision to allow Ronald Kiandee to stay on as PAC’s chairman, even though he is no longer an opposition MP.
She 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.”
Abu Bakar Yahya, who is the political secretary to the Prime Minister, had a lengthy reply to Ms Nurul. His statement dated March 25 was published in part in The New Straits Times.
“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.
As a Member of Parliament and former PKR vice-president, I am certain that Nurul Izzah does not forget that the position of Dr Mahathir as the prime minister is a unanimous decision of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership council, while all decisions involving the government administration is decided jointly by the cabinet ministers.
I also believe that Nurul Izzah understands and acknowledges that without YAB Tun, it was impossible for PH to win in the 14th General Election and form the government that exists today,”
Human rights lawyer N Surendran responded to Ms Nurul via Twitter, “Is this acceptable? In d middle of d escalating water agreement dispute & a serious ongoing territorial conflict, a prominent PH MP calls d PM a ‘former dictator who wreaked so much damage’ in an interview to a leading S’pore daily. The timing, platform & manner is all wrong.”
Is this acceptable? In d middle of d escalating water agreement dispute & a serious ongoing territorial conflict, a prominent PH MP calls d PM a 'former dictator who wreaked so much damage' in an interview to a leading S'pore daily. The timing, platform & manner is all wrong. https://t.co/TUr8SzinI7
— N.Surendran (@nsurendrann) March 24, 2019
Amidst the critical remarks against Ms Nurul, there is at least one Malaysian leader who showed her support today. Johor PKR chief Hassan Abdul Karim wrote an open letter to her, asking her to run in the 15th General Election in about 5 years, portions of which were published in the Malay Mail.
“As Pasir Gudang MP and Johor PKR chairman, I ask that YB Nurul Izzah Anwar continues to be involved in Malaysian politics. I ask that Nurul Izzah be prepared to be a candidate in the 15th general election. To me, Nurul Izzah Anwar is an asset to Malaysia.”
He wrote about Ms Nurul’s leadership skills, as well as her experience in parliament due to her three terms as an MP. He also said that the country needs someone like her who will fight for reforms, has integrity and is principled.
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