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Ambiga slams Anwar's 'green light' for ministers to 'bring in family'

She hits out at the prime minister's remarks that Cabinet members should not give salaries or rewards from government allocations to relatives appointed as advisers or officials.

Staff Writers
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Former Malaysian Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan.
Former Malaysian Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Former Malaysian Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan today slammed recent remarks by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim that Cabinet members are prohibited from giving salaries or rewards from government allocations to family members if they are appointed as advisers or officials, following his move last month to name his daughter to such a position. 

"A green light for all ministers to bring in family!" Ambiga said in a Twitter post. 

Anwar's move to appoint his eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, as his senior economic and finance adviser, had sparked debate and accusations of cronyism and nepotism due, among others, to his stand against such matters during his time in the opposition. 

Anwar defended the move, stressing that Nurul's appointment was on a pro bono basis.

He also said that she was qualified for the role despite not having a suitable economics background.

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

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, he said Nurul would never abuse her position, reiterating that she was not getting paid for her work.

"There is no possibility of her using that position to amass wealth and influence decisions on tenders, contracts or projects.

"Yes, I need her expertise to assist me, but let me emphasise that she is there to protect and pursue the agenda of good governance and incorruptibility.

"Thus, I take a strong position against those who have criticised the appointment, particularly those who have awarded billions or hundreds of millions of ringgit of contracts to their sons or sons-in-law, or cronies, when they were in power," he said.

Anwar also said he respected the views of those concerned that Nurul might use her position for personal and family benefits.

"I can assure you that will not happen under my administration," he said.

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".

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