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Activists, NGO leaders silent over Nurul Izzah's appointment

Prominent individuals previously vocal on issues of integrity either refuse to comment or cannot be reached.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, in this file picture taken ahead of the 13th general election on May 4, 2013. Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, in this file picture taken ahead of the 13th general election on May 4, 2013. Photo: AFP

Activists previously vocal on issues of integrity have remained mum on the subject of Nurul Izzah Anwar's appointment as a senior economic and finance adviser to her father, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, amid criticism by those who describe the move as nepotism.

MalaysiaNow's attempts to obtain the views of Maria Chin Abdullah and Ambiga Sreenevasan were unsuccessful as of press time. 

When contacted, Maria – a PKR member and the former MP for Petaling Jaya – said she had no comment as many had already aired their views on the matter. 

"Many have already spoken, so let that be enough lest it turn into a controversy," she said.

Former Bersih chairman Ambiga, meanwhile, could not be reached. 

Nurul's appointment sparked a barrage of criticism, due, among others, to Anwar's staunch objection to nepotism and cronyism during his time in the opposition. 

Anwar defended the move, stressing that Nurul's appointment was on a pro bono basis. Nevertheless, the calls have continued for him to re-evaluate her role. 

Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor had described Nurul's appointment as unusual, saying such a thing had never been done by any prime minister before. 

He also raised concerns that it would be used as a benchmark for other political leaders to appoint family members to important positions in the government. 

"If she isn't being paid, her role appears to be more like a social service," he said in a report by Berita Harian. 

"It would be better for her to work at an NGO. But instead, she is advising on government policies, managing procurements, making sure that tenders are properly taken care of – that is the work of a government official." 

Nurul, who lost her Permatang Pauh seat in the recent polls, said her appointment took effect on Jan 3.

She said her experience as an MP would come in handy when engaging with "experts in navigating economic governance, accountability and evidence-based policies".

She also said she had been busy meeting with business groups and stakeholders as part of the preparations for the upcoming budget to be tabled by her father.

Anwar later defended the appointment, saying Nurul was qualified for the role despite not having a suitable economics background.

He also said that he wanted Nurul to help the government, including by ensuring a transparent administration and the proper award of government tenders.

Economist Yeah Kim Leng said Nurul's appointment meant that her every move would be in the limelight. 

Yeah, of Sunway University, said this would force the former MP to be careful and to ensure that none of her decisions could be questioned. 

"From an alternative perspective, she will continue to be watched as she is seen as the daughter of the prime minister," he said. 

"This will put her under constant pressure to do her best. From this perspective, nepotism will take a back seat while how well she performs, and whether she can come up with good solutions, will be the number one priority."

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