KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has slammed accusations of nepotism today, as he prepares to enter the Parliament even as his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is the deputy prime minister and daughter Nurul Izzah already an MP.
The incoming PKR president said both Dr Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah were forced to join politics after he was jailed in 1998, and have never had an easy ride since.
“When I was in jail for years, people were mobilising [efforts] to get me out of jail at that time.
“At that time Nurul Izzah was mobilising youths. That time no issue. Everyone said ‘okay, okay, get her, get her’,” he told a dialogue session with youths here.
Anwar said Dr Wan Azizah was an ophthalmologist who graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, when she was asked to join the Opposition then.
“I was in jail. You think it was easy? I was suffering in pain, beaten near death.
“At that time, all said it was okay, and now it’s nepotism. We were not granted a golden spoon. We suffered in tears,” he said.
However, Anwar added that he has never regretted taking his family through the tough path.
He said he is aware of “discordant voices” about the family’s involvement in politics, but pointed out that everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Dr Wan Azizah is the current Pandan MP, while Nurul Izzah is the MP for Permatang Pauh — a seat both her parents had contested in, and won with resounding majority.
Last week, Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah announced his resignation from the federal Port Dickson seat to allow Anwar to contest, and to pave the way for him to assume the prime minister’s post soon.
The move resulted in criticisms, with even one of Anwar’s former counsel for his second sodomy case, Datuk S. Ambiga, denouncing the move and suggesting either Dr Wan Azizah or Nurul Izzah to vacate their seat instead.
In his speech today, Anwar also explained why he did not choose to contest Dr Wan Azizah’s Pandan seat.
“Say, for the by-election, if I choose Pandan, they will say: You, when you were in trouble, you asked your wife [for help to contest], and then you want to immediately snatch the position from her.
“Now that too is wrong. If I take Pandan, there will be a vacuum of about two, three months, because [Dr Wan Azizah] is DPM,” he said, using initials to refer to the post of deputy prime minister.
“Then if I win, I don’t want to become DPM. I already told Tun Mahathir. I want him to have the freedom and space to choose who he wants, then wait for my turn, I take over. So because of that, she cannot let [Pandan] go,” Anwar said, referring to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He then called on his supporters to ensure his win in Port Dickson.
“What’s important is let me win in Port Dickson,” he said to laughter and applause.