5:09pm 01/02/2023
Nurul’s appointment: Giving ammo to the enemy
By:Sin Chew Daily

Why give ammunition to the enemies with such a clumsy maneuver?

The appointment of Nurul Izzah Anwar as the prime minister’s senior advisor on economics and finance has triggered a lot of controversies from the public, some supportive while others resistant.

No doubt Nurul, a highly capable politician with respectful academic qualifications, is touted as one of a handful of the country’s political elites, and the controversy surrounding her appointment has stemmed exclusively from the fact she is PM Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter.

The opponents of Nurul’s appointment have cited three reasons: no political appointments, no nepotism, and her doubtful ability in economics and finance.

Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin has put it forthright that by appointing his own daughter as senior advisor, Anwar has betrayed all Malaysians. He also urged the PM to rescind Nurul’s appointment.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Dr. Muhammad Mohan said public perception of the unity government could be adversely affected if this mistake is not reversed.

In late 1990s, Anwar Ibrahim had on numerous occasions hit out at his boss Mahathir Mohamad for cronyism and nepotism, and as such, the appointment of his own daughter today is expected to draw much public censure.

Since PH and Anwar have previously slammed the sitting government for undue political appointments and nepotism, they will now have to go through the public wrath for committing the same misstep.

At the same time, those supporting Nurul’s appointment have their own reasons: they feel that Nurul is capable and qualified for the assignment; she is not drawing a salary or any allowance for the job; her forte and effort should not be downplayed by her relationship with Anwar; and that many cabinet ministers in previous administrations had no corresponding qualifications as well.

Local government development minister Nga Kor Ming has defended the appointment, arguing that Nurul has good academic qualifications and is serving the nation pro bono.

It appears that both sides do have their own rationale on this matter, but there are a few things which we need to clarify here:

Firstly, Anwar has the right to appoint Nurul Izzah as his senior advisor. The appointment is totally legitimate. However, as Anwar and the PH coalition he leads have been adamant in advocating reforms, they should set the bar much higher than the question of mere “legality” in all their undertakings.

Secondly, Anwar and PH must not cite the previous administrations as a pretext to justify what they are doing now.

Blunders of the previous administrations must serve as valuable lessons to learn, not as a yardstick for their actions. If they are not any different from the other parties, why should the voters take the trouble of traveling across country to vote for a new government?

Thirdly, Nurul is indeed a very capable woman. Khazanah Research Institute senior advisor Prof. Jomo Kwame Sundaram does agree that she has demonstrated sound political and policy independence throughout her political career.

Even PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin admits that Nurul is a capable young leader holding tremendous potential, although this should not be reason enough for her appointment.

As a government is in the process of ridding itself from the scourge of cronyism and nepotism, it is imperative that those in power display an unambiguous disposition and do something to show the people their resolve for change. Absolutely no ambiguity or double standards in order to effectively institute any meaningful reform.

For sure Nurul can make use of her talent in party affairs, not necessarily as a senior advisor to the PM.

Fourthly, whether Nurul is paid a salary or allowance is not the point of contention here. The controversy lies with the appointment of the PM’s daughter to a senior government post, which will invariably arouse concerns of nepotism.

While the war of words are still very much ongoing over Nurul’s appointment, one thing we are quite sure is that damage has already been done even before such a move can actually produce any good.

We can’t yet tell how well Nurul is going to perform, but what we can see is that this incident has already thrown Anwar’s unity government into a whirlpool of criticisms.

While on the surface the unity government is rock solid with the support of 148 MPs, there’s no denying that much of the support has derived from expedient arrangements that are themselves shaky.

Under such circumstances, why give ammunition to the enemies with such a clumsy maneuver?


Anwar Ibrahim
Nurul Izzah


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