Firestorm over ‘dictator’ remark


  • Analysis
  • Tuesday, 26 Mar 2019

Eye of the storm: Nurul Izzah quit the PAC as she believes its chairman Kiandee (right) should be replaced with another opposition MP.

THERE had been such intense speculation that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibra­him would be making “a move” in the current meeting of Parliament.

But nothing like that has happened.

Instead, it was his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar who has inadvertently whipped up a storm of opinions over her comments about the government and the Prime Minister.

The Permatang Pauh MP has always been extremely careful and calculative in commenting on issues.But she seems to be loosening up as she prepares to make her exit from politics and gave one of her more open interviews to Sumiko Tan of The Straits Times in Singa­pore, who does have a talent for drawing people out of their shell.

Nurul Izzah probably did not expect the storm of opinion over the interview, but the fact that it did shows her star power even as she is headed for retirement, an incongruent word for a 38-year-old politician.She had used words like “turbulent”, “tumultuous” and “challenging” to describe the political landscape in Malaysia.

But what got under the skin of some Pakatan Harapan leaders was her reference to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the “former dictator who had wreaked so much damage, not just to our lives but the system”.

Politicians tend to see shadowy threats everywhere and her words were perceived as the second arrow aimed at Dr Mahathir in a week.

Nurul Izzah had earlier quit the Public Accounts Com­mittee (PAC) of Parliament in protest against the Prime Minister’s reluctance to replace PAC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee with another opposition MP.

The government’s stand not only goes against Pakatan’s manifesto to put Parliament on a more accountable footing, it clearly undermined Anwar’s plan for parliamentary reform.

It also underscored the internecine tussle within Pakatan’s partners that has been bubbling beneath the surface over various government policies and affairs.

Nurul Izzah saw it as political expediency taking priority over the party’s reform agenda.

In layman language, yet another promise had been broken.

Bersatu leaders have taken exception to the “dictator” label and came out swinging for their elderly chairman.

But it was PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s tweet which took matters to another level.

In his tweet, Azmin basically implied that Nurul Izzah was a crybaby who is unable to weather the tough times.

“If you cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” he said on Twitter.

Azmin and the Anwar family have not been on the same page for a long time, but the last few months or so has seen Azmin openly rooting for Dr Mahathir.

It is no secret that he has hitched his wagon to Dr Mahathir, whom he used to call “uncle”.

As such, his reprimand of Nurul Izzah was naturally seen as coming to the defence of “uncle”.

It did not go down well with his Twitter followers and drew a flurry of criticism.

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad returned fire on Twitter: “When a lady makes a stand, call her crybaby? Cheap, very cheap.”

The perception out there is that Malaysian politics is about to lose a star politician and it was not on to attack her for speaking her mind.

Dr Mahathir has always had a touchy relationship with Singapore – they are like oil and water – and it was obvious that Nurul Izzah’s remarks cut a little deeper than usual because it was made to a Singapore publication.

Well, the word is that she is likely to be more outspoken after this.

“I see her continuing to speak her mind. She has strong ideals, she doesn’t need to toe the line and she can say it like it is,” said Perak PKR chief Farhash Wafa Salvador.

Some in PKR like to refer to the Anwar family as the Kennedys of Malaysia.

Detractors prefer the label Istana Segambut, which implies the special powers they have over others.

For ever so long, Nurul Izzah was deemed the one to carry on the legacy after Anwar and party members had trouble accepting her decision to walk away.

She stunned everyone when she decided to quit her vice-president post just weeks after winning it for a third term, citing reasons of principle over what was happening in national politics.

Until today, party members are still disappointed over the action of the woman whom some see as a future prime minister.

They say if it was really about political principles, she should have taken a stand instead of keeping mum throughout the controversial PKR election when everything that should not happen in an election happened.

The opinion is that she knows her political future is limited because her father was said to have put his foot down on her getting a government post while Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the Deputy Prime Minister.

With her father on course to be the next prime minister, her prospects of moving up is down to zero.

But kudos to Anwar for taking such a stand.

“We had high hopes for her. But she decided on her own future and we have to respect her decision,” said Selangor PKR Youth chief Najwan Halimi.

Nurul Izzah has lived her entire adult life in the political spotlight, yet the mother of two and her family have managed to keep so much about themselves private.

For instance, nobody can quite confirm her current marital status and there was quite a bit of chatter among reporters during the PKR congress last year when they saw a sparkling ring on her left ring finger.However, Wikipedia states that she is twice divorced, having remarried in 2015 and divorcing in 2016.

Despite her rollercoaster political life, she does not look her age, her complexion glows even without make-up and she turns heads wherever she goes.

She is also photogenic, with a voice that is made for public speaking and, well, politics.

Will it be the end of the road for Nurul Izzah?

“With her charisma, a comeback is always possible,” said Farhash.


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