Critics of Permatang Pauh Member of Parliament (MP) Nurul Izzah Anwar’s recent statement regarding Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad should instead pay attention to the current state of the Malaysian economy and society, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim.
In an interview with ST‘s executive editor Sumiko Tan for The Sunday Times, Ms Izzah spoke about how “turbulent and tumultuous” the past year has been since the Pakatan Harapan coalition came into power after the 14th General Election on 9 May.
“I’ve learnt so much, but I think my heart’s been broken as well, somewhat,” she said, in the interview that was published on Sun (24 Mar).
When asked about what she had meant by having her heart “broken”, Ms Izzah briefly paused before 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,” she added, in reference to working with Dr Mahathir, who was responsible for sending her father, former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, to prison during his tenure as Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister in the late-90s.
The 38-year-old, who is popularly known amongst Malaysians as Puteri Reformasi or “the Princess of Reformation”, told ST that a desire to push for a Malaysia that is “further democratised” was one of the primary reasons why she had contested in last year’s GE, other than seeking her father’s liberation from prison.
Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur on Tue (26 Mar), Dato’ Seri Anwar said: “Some people think this is like how Umno was previously.
“No, we give space, but our stand, including that of my family and I, is to give full support for Mahathir as prime minister and leader of this country.
“It’s all right, it’s her view,” he assured, adding: “Focus on the economy and the people.”
Free Malaysia Today reported him as saying that while the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition has given plenty of room for Dr Mahathir to lead the country accordingly, it does not mean that a mandate to do away with legitimate dissent and criticism has been granted upon the new government.
Just one day after Ms Izzah’s interview with ST was published, The Star Online quoted Dr Mahathir as saying: “Tak pa la, dia banyak orang kecewa. Saya pun kecewa dengan dia orang. (Never mind, many people are disappointed. I am also disappointed with them)”.
In response to Dr Mahathir’s statement, Dato’ Seri Anwar told reporters on Tue: “We have consistently chosen Mahathir and support him as prime minister. Mahathir has given a mature response, to focus on the performance of the PH government. His criticism has to be taken into account.”
Separately, Ms Izzah told ST in an interview that she is currently serving her final term as an MP, and has also resigned from the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
While she did not specify the reason behind leaving her position as a legislator in Parliament, she had nonetheless expressed her disappointment with the “slow pace” of reforms under the PH government.
She had also criticised the coalition’s obsession with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal as opposed to “bread and butter issues” that affect Malaysians on a daily basis, as well as the increasing racial polarisation and rising Islamic conservatism plaguing Malaysia following PH’s takeover.