Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has put his foot down on his daughter Nurul Izzah’s appointment as his adviser for economics in both the Prime Minister’s Department as well as the Finance Ministry, saying it is to ensure that contracts and tenders are managed in an “orderly” manner.
Pointing out that his eldest daughter is taking on the unpaid role, Anwar gave his assurance that the appointment is not to misuse power or to enrich his family like those who grant projects worth millions of ringgit to their children and son or daughter-in-law.
“She (Nurul) is here to help. If she came to help with no positions, that will be questioned and it’s not transparent, nor is it proper,” he told reporters today after attending the National Sports Awards at the National Sports Council in Kuala Lumpur.
“I want to give assurance, God willing, that our administration, even if some are not satisfied with this decision, (we are here to) fight corruption, not to misuse power or enrich any officials or leaders.”…
Earlier today, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Muhammad Mohan questioned Anwar’s decision, saying it may signal that cronyism and nepotism are back.
It is sad to see Malaysia’s democracy advocates going after Nurul Izzar because she has agreed to work as her father’s unpaid advisor.
Yes, the unpaid role will open doors for her to make the enquiries he is plaining on leaving her to do. Yet, special advisors have been adopted by leaders everywhere being people they know they can trust to delegate/ arms length some of the volume of their work. Usually these are paid.
Nurul is not a nepotistic parvenu, in fact she could hardly be more qualified for the role. She is one of Malaysia’s most longstanding and experienced opposition politicians, who has suffered and battled harder than many salaried NGOs who know when to duck out of the line of fire when danger threatens. She has not had such luxury and has shown at least as much courage and steadfastness for the cause of reform as they – and paid the price.
Like her mother, Nurul has been much more than a daughter, working as an elected politician, key ally and indeed surrogate for Anwar during his decade in jail. Anwar knows how she was there when others, who may now be back on board, were writing him off and making themselves scarce when support was needed.
Nurul is experienced in politics, therefore, and an inspiring speaker who is a rare Malaysian figure on the international stage. How many other Malaysian politicians can draw a crowd like she can in London or New York? They admire her for her story, her charisma and for her proven capability and qualities as a leader.
She lost her seat. The circumstances are murky as to why, but as a top politician she was a top target for the ultimately unsuccessful PN coalition.
It is common for parties to seek out some role for loyal MPs who meet this fate. Usually, the role includes a salary. However, given her relationship, she has foregone the remuneration that any other ex-PKR MP in her position would have accepted without a thought – or criticism from others either.
So, why has she been singled out for this attack as if her years of political service stood for nothing? Why has there been so much anger and criticism over this appointment compared, for example, to glaring and recent examples where powerful politicians have awarded multi-million ringgit contracts to companies owned by the husbands of their daughters or passed on their own seat to their son or daughter like a family heirloom?
Are these issues too complicated with too much work involved to stand up and complain about or are the politicians concerned too mean to confront in the same aggressive manner? Count the articles and the official NGO complaints made about those real scandals, compared to all the column inches filled over Nurul’s unpaid job.
Perhaps some reflection is needed on the wisdom of making a false equivalence by calling the appointment of Nurul Izzar “nepotism” compared to the custom of treating parliamentary seats as a family heirloom, or “cronyism” compared to the purloining of contracts for family members or those who provide backhanders in return.
More work is needed and more noise made over these glaring examples of genuine corruption in Malaysia from the paid NGO figures who have waxed so noisily over Nurul. After all, they can do so without danger now, thanks to the advent of the pro-reform administration that she has worked for more than most.