- The Straits Times
Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has stepped out to say that his family is supportive of Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership as Malaysia’s Prime Minister – following comments made by his daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, to Singapore’s The Straits Times.
Izzah, who is a prominent lawmaker and a Permatang Pauh MP, had sparked criticism when she reportedly told The Straits Times (ST) that her heart had been broken from having to work with PM Mahathir.
Published on Sunday (March 24), the mother of two was quoted as saying: “I mean having to work with a former dictator who wreaked so much damage, not just on our lives but the system. It was not easy.”
Izzah, 38, had shocked the nation when she abruptly quit her posts in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in December. At the same time, she also said she was leaving all federal positions to focus on being an MP.
According to a separate report by ST, Izzah said that after serving her current term, she would step down as a federal lawmaker, citing a loss of faith in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government led by PM Mahathir.
She also said that she found it difficult to work with him because of strained personal ties from Anwar’s imprisonment in 1998, after he was sacked by then-PM Mahathir as deputy prime minister.
After Sunday’s report was published, critics called out Izzah’s use of the word “dictator” to describe the Prime Minister.
The Star reported that when Mahathir was asked about Izzah’s comments on Monday, he responded by saying: “Never mind, many people are disappointed. I am also disappointed with them.”
Needless to say, Izzah’s comments also garnered criticism from many of Mahathir’s loyalists, The New Straits Times (NST) reported.
According to NST, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali called Izzah a “crybaby” in a tweet. Meanwhile, the PM’s political secretary Abu Bakar Yahya said she was “immature, irrational, and emotional” for making the comments.
By Tuesday, Anwar had also broken his silence to reaffirm his support for Mahathir as the nation’s leader.
According to NST, Anwar told reporters he met at the Parliament lobby: “My family and I will give our utmost support to Dr Mahathir’s leadership
“No, he is not (a dictator). That is our consistent stand. We support him as the prime minister,” he was quoted as saying.
He also said that Mahathir’s biggest contribution to Malaysia was to oust the previous government and save the country from “robbery”.
Comments blown out of proportion
According to NST, Anwar also defended his daughter, and said that her comments were magnified by the Singapore daily.
“The statement was made for quite some time and reported by the Singapore’s Straits Times. That is a one-time statement. I understand the context and that the statement was blown (up) by the Singapore’s Straits Times. There is nothing to argue about,” he reportedly said.
“I, of course, understand and am concerned (about the matter). However it is not an absolute reference to Dr Mahathir, but there are skewed voices that continue to lob such attacks (to the ruling party).
“But I believe that our focus is on the economy. Secondly, we in PH have time and again called for space and chance to be given to Dr Mahathir (to lead the country),” he said.
Also speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, Izzah said that she did not mean harm with what she said.
“I did not mean any harm certainly. Insyallah (God willing), I will continue to speak in favour of what is right and what is important,” she was quoted by The Star as saying.
Izzah entitled to own views
Anwar also took to Instagram on the same day to say that Izzah, who has in the past been dubbed the “princess of reform”, is entitled to her own opinions based on her experiences of being thrust in the limelight.
“Izzah is my eldest child and as a father, her happiness and well-being comes first. However, as a father I am also obligated to advise my children that they will always face challenges and disappointments in any path they chose,” he wrote.
“The hardships and hurt my family went through for the past twenty years have left their mark. Izzah herself was thrust into the limelight and has spent most of her adult life fighting to help reform the nation.
“@n_izzah is entitled to her personal point of view. We as a family will continue to focus on Malaysia’s future and serve together with the Tun Dr Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan,” he added.
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Izzah is my eldest child and as a father, her happiness and well-being comes first. However, as a father I am also obligated to advise my children that they will always face challenges and disappointments in any path they chose. The hardships and hurt my family went through for the past twenty years have left their mark. Izzah herself was thrust into the limelight and has spent most of her adult life fighting to help reform the nation. @n_izzah is entitled to her personal point of view. We as a family will continue to focus on Malaysia’s future and serve together with the Tun Dr Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan.