Nurul Izzah Anwar is truly her father’s daughter. She remains steadfast in her determination to secure opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s release from prison for as long as one can remember. Nurul Izzah was of course just 18 years old when her father’s arrest made global headlines in 1998. At the time she made an impassioned plea before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva for his freedom. Since then she has found herself immersed in Malaysia’s political scene. Nurul Izzah is a two-term Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai. She is also vice president in the People’s Justice Party (PKR). Now nearly two decades later Datuk Seri Anwar’s eldest daughter has certainly emerged from her father’s shadow.
Despite coming into her own Nurul Izzah’s struggle to liberate her father continues. Recently she wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post advising United States President Donald Trump on the various issues that should be discussed with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak during his visit. Nurul Izzah lamented on the absence of democratic institutions, freedom of speech and religion in Malaysia. She had asserted that “Without reforms, the Malaysian government is not a reliable partner on counterterrorism, international security or economic development.” Nurul Izzah is of course entitled to her opinion. However it is puzzling that she writes about reforms and democratic values given PKR’s association with the very man that undermined them.
Nurul Izzah and PKR have joined forces with former premier Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to form an opposition coalition known as Pakatan Harapan. The irony is the former leader played a pivotal role in having her father arrested. Moreover Tun Dr. Mahathir was instrumental in emasculating the leading institutions of democratic governance, including the judiciary, the media and the universities. Markedly Asia’s last remaining strongman has never apologized for his past transgressions. Yet Nurul Izzah stands side by side with him. What has happened to her passionate call for reforms and upholding democratic values? Tun Dr. Mahathir is certainly not an embodiment of these ideals. Has political strategy given way to more urgent matters? Perhaps Nurul Izzah should walk the talk. Otherwise her article and whatever it is she stands for does not carry weight.