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Don't make Pak Lah's mistake, analyst tells Anwar on Nurul Izzah's appointment

Ahmad Atory Hussain draws comparisons with former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's appointment to office of his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Anwar Ibrahim with his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar (right) and wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in this picture taken Oct 28, 2014. Photo: AFP
Anwar Ibrahim with his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar (right) and wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in this picture taken Oct 28, 2014. Photo: AFP

An analyst cautions that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's appointment of his daughter to a government position risks repeating a similar mistake by the country's fifth leader, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ahmad Atory Hussain said Anwar's position could be threatened, as had happened to Ahmad when he appointed his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, to the government before resigning in 2009. 

"In the end, Pak Lah fell," Atory said, referring to Ahmad by his nickname. 

"This is what Anwar needs to remember. If he wants to remain as prime minister for a long time, don't do things like this. Don't copy Pak Lah." 

Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar was initially made a senior economic and financial adviser to her father, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister. 

The move gave rise to a debate, with critics labelling it as nepotism – a practice opposed by Anwar himself during his time as the opposition leader. 

Others including former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan also hit out at the appointment, as well as Anwar's statement that Cabinet members were prohibited from giving salaries or rewards from government allocations to family members who were made advisers or officials. 

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

Nurul was later given a position in the finance minister's special advisory body, after which she said that she would no longer serve as her father's senior adviser. 

Atory, of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said Nurul's original role had sparked concerns about the possibility of conflict with other bureaucrats, given that there were already economic and finance portfolios held by Rafizi Ramli, Ahmad Maslan and Steven Sim. 

He said her transfer to the finance ministry could not silence the accusations of nepotism either, as Anwar was also the finance minister. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said Nurul had the right to an opportunity in the government. 

However, he said the former Permatang Pauh MP should be distanced from the centre of power, adding that it would be better to offer her a position in another ministry. 

"It's not that Anwar cannot appoint his daughter," he said. "But she should be kept away from the seat of power. 

"If the finance minister were not Anwar as well, I would have agreed with the appointment." 

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