Commentary Politics

There’s Nurul Izzah, and there’s the politics of her parents

Could (from left) Rafizi, Nurul and KJ be the three-some Malaysian politics truly needs for meaningful changes?

Written by Aziz Hassan

December 20, 2018.

Recollections & Reflections – A commentary

SHE must have been so disillusioned, frustrated, exasperated, dejected and in agony, so much so that Nurul Izzah Anwar decided to relinquish her appointed positions in PKR and also in connection with the federal government.

Her decision thus doesn’t leave her with much vis-à-vis the national political landscape but her constituents in Permatang Pauh may benefit the most from the time she now has on her hands.

In announcing her decision, Nurul didn’t mention any names and most of what could possibly have pushed her into a corner to leave her with little choice have been offered by other politicians who seem to know her better than most. They cited the reform agenda that has gone astray as one reason. That agenda, by the way, is very much PKR’s and was born out of the 1998 Anwar case.

It has been referred to quite a lot since but whether anything substantive has been achieved since is a point for debate, for there’s not much in tangible means anyone in support of it can point to. The one drawback to this is that PKR hasn’t had the opportunity to rule on its own, although it has taken a lead role in Selangor since after the 2008 general elections.

In the few days since she announced her decision, much has been written in the media, mostly interpretative and speculative but one aspect that has been completely left out is to tie her decision to something more crucial and that’s on the party or parties that have failed to deliver what she had aspired for.

And when you talk about the parties, you cannot detach her decision from two personalities close to her personally and politically and these are her parents – PKR president and potential prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the party’s immediate past president, her mother Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who also happens to be the deputy prime minister in a government of which PKR is a part and the one with the most number of MPs.

Although she became involved in politics 20 years ago, at 38 now Nurul Izzah is still young by most Malaysian politicians’ standards and her experience so far has been as a lawmaker but not as part of a governing team. This is where her ideals clash with reality and she may not realise that there are fundamental differences between the two until she has that chance at governing.

In the case of the federal ruling coalition of Pakatan Harapan, and of the Barisan Nasional for 61 years until last May 9, the need for compromises is all the more unavoidable simply because it is a coalition – of four parties for Pakatan. Someone has to give and take. For that matter it’s the same anywhere else so long as political parties need to form alliances to be able to rule.

Nurul’s position is akin to that of the lone wolf who doesn’t need to pause to determine if his action is going to affect others with the same mind; he doesn’t have to wait for the cue from anyone and he doesn’t have to first ponder how his next move is going to affect his comrades because he has none.

A three-some is not such a bad idea

In the last few days there have been news stories on the friendship that binds Nurul, her PKR mate Rafizi Ramli and Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin, with photos of them at lunch and tea in Bangsar, one of the places you go to in Kuala Lumpur if you want to be seen.

Expectedly there were suggestions that they were also talking plans to form a political party of their own, which KJ was quick to deny but this isn’t such a bad idea honestly.

All three are young, seem to have a mind of their own within their own party, sound liberal and different from most local political animals.

Just like Nurul and Rafizi within PKR, KJ is without a doubt a thorn in Umno’s flesh, in recent days picking up fights with more Umno members.

Given the circumstances, those who know them and others who look up to them as Malaysia’s hopes for the future should encourage them to do just that – form a new party – which will then show us if Malaysians are in favour of their politics in big numbers, which eventually will enable them to rule.

However, the more experienced amongst us have enough stories about how even the strongest of bonds can disintegrate when friends get together in politics or business.

But who knows, the Nurul, Rafizi and KJ trio could ultimately turn out to be a breath of fresh air which will indeed change Malaysian politics into something similar to the best there is in the West, one that gets rid once and for all the corruption, nepotism, cronyism, mass defections, crossovers, flip-flops and an almost complete disregard for promises clearly outlined in an election manifesto.




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.