In a recent interview with Sin Chew Daily,the leader of the opposition Dr.Wan Azizah Ismail has this to say on current issues……….
The Future Woman Prime Minister? No, I'm Just Anwar's Wife
PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail mentioned before that after the end of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's exile from active politics, she would give her Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency to him, and return to be an ordinary wife. When we asked her again the same question, she repeated her answer that she would give it to Anwar when the time comes. However, she said it was not to be decided by her, but the party would decide where should Anwar contest in and whether she should stay as the MP.
“If the party thinks that Anwar should contest in Permatang Pauh, I'll definitely hand it over to him,” said Wan Azizah. She would rather to be an assistant if she was given the option.
“I think I wouldn't be the first woman Prime Minister for Malaysia, I'm more happy to be the wife of the Prime Minister,” she laughed. Wan Azizah smiled when she said: “I always wish to be a good doctor, but I can't be one now. I can only be a good grandmother.” Wan Azizah said that she can only see current challenges at present, and not to think about uncertain things for the future. Current challenges have made her excited as the country had never faced such a situation before.
“I'm now very busy with my life, but I sincerely hope that I could be a good person and try my best. I believe that we must be humble and must not forget where we come from. When we are in power, we should not forget those who are unfortunate. I always remind myself of this,” added Wan Azizah.
PKR Goes For Multiracial Concept
Previously, Anwar gave an impression of extremism, and some people are worried PKR will go for a one race party concept. PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail stressed that PKR's multiracial concept is a clear position the party set since the beginning.
“Anwar said, we can no longer discuss about 'Malay sovereignty'. We should stress on 'people's sovereignty'.” She pointed out that Umno leaders portray Anwar as a traitor, an Islamic extremist and the backstage manipulator of Hindraf issue. However, this is not the reality. She did not deny that Anwar had previously given the people the impression of extremism. However, after years of being in jail, he has become more matured. As time goes by and life experience is increasing, some of his previous ideas have changed.
“Anwar has been dismissed for more than 10 years. As a man, he was a powerful figure, but was suddenly being treated like a dog and have been beaten up in the jail. Don't you think these experiences will change someone's previous convictions? Wan Azizah said that Anwar has changed his thinking towards some Umno policies after these experiences and hopes to make reforms.
“He has become more matured. Certain views a young man has towards some issues will be changed as he is getting older and is more matured in his thinking. He was beaten up until we can see his blue-black eyes. How can you say that he could not understand the voices of the people of the lower and middle classes? It is a very painful experience.” However, Wan Azizah stressed that Anwar is a Malay and a Muslim. He will continue to defend the interests of the poor Malays. However, at the same time, he would defend the poor Chinese and Indians as well. As for human rights, he must defend the interests of all people.
“The fact cannot be changed. Anwar is a Malay. He has his beliefs and issues to be defended.”
Anwar Was Only Upholding The Status Of Bahasa Malaysia
PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail said many people, especially MCA, said Anwar had been unfriendly to Chinese education when the latter was the Education Minister but he was only upholding the dignity and the status of Bahasa Malaysia as the country official language. She stressed that the PKR supports mother-tongue education and multicultural education. She agreed that mother tongue education is everyone's right. She said we have to admit that it is a global trend that many Malays send their children to Chinese schools. China is gradually getting stronger. If we are unable to keep up with the pace, we will be left behind.
Her three children are learning Mandarin. Her eldest daughter Nurul took Mandarin as her elective when she was studying in the United States. Her younger daughters are learning Mandarin now. However, they started too late and their performance is not so satisfied. Wan Azizah said the PKR's policy is to promoting mother-tongue education. It does not oppose the building of more primary schools, fund-raising and other activities to promote Chinese education. However, she believes that Tamil primary schools need more urgent help in some areas.
Living Alone To Prove The Existence Of PKR
During the 1999 general elections, incumbent PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail was the party's only MP and the only woman MP. She was alone and not much she could do.
“In Parliament, most of them were BN MPs or male MPs. They possessed everything. They had power, they could control the media and the Internal Security Act (ISA). We need a lot of time and efforts in order to fight for something or for a change,” said Wan Azizah. She was all alone in the Parliament over the years and despite she had a lot to say, she had to face opposition from male MPs. Fortunately, she was helped by Lim Kit Siang who has 30 years of experience, as well as support by DAP and PAS.
“I was the only MP for PKR, my existence in the Parliament could at least prove the existence of the party. Despite some said PKR would disappear, but it didn't happen. I was proud to be a MP, even Iwas alone. It was not for myself but for the party,” she said. She firmly believed that despite the party has its low tide, it does not mean that it is weak. The power will return just like currently, PKR MPs has increased to 31 people.
Anwar Is Able To Rope In BN Members
There are widespread rumours of BN members crossing over to opposition but some people are still hesitant and feel that Anwar's claim is exaggerated. PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail said that she believes that Anwar has the ability to rope in these BN members. Nevertheless, the opposition is not in a hurry to do so.
“It is only a matter of time. I always stressed that the administrative work of public services will be conducted as usual even the government changed. The entire system already exists, and normal operation is not an issue.
We have to tell ourselves that the country needs to forward into a two-party system in the future for checks and balances. By then, the country will have benefits and improvements. I always tell myself to be ready for it.”
Nurul Was Forced To Grow Up
In 1997, the then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from his positions because of corruption and sodomy charges. Such a sudden change has changed the life of his whole family, as well as the Malaysian political sturcture. It has also lead to the battle of those who are discontented with BN. Nurul Izzah Anwar, the eldest daughter of Anwar and Incumbent PKR President Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail, was only 17 when it happened, while her five younger siblings did not even know what happened.
“When Anwar was sacked, Nurul was my support because my other childen were still too young.
“She was forced to grow up,” said Wan Azizah.
Nurul, who has been supporting her parents all these years, started to understand the brutality of politics since she was 17. And she is now 27, and has become a mother herself. In the recent general elections, she defeated a minister and became a Member of Parliament. Perhaps it was because she has experienced an extraordinary life since she was young, we can always see determination on her face. Wan Azizah was loving and proud when she talks about Nurul: “I really think she has grown up, with her achievements today. Nurul showed her talents when she was a little girl. She was very hardworking and scored well in her exams.”
“She is now a MP, she did asked for my advice, but most of the time she still find it unbelievable. She needs to discover all by her own. She is independent. Of course, as a MP, she must be patient,” said Wan Azizah. She added that Nurual would be an engineer if she did not join politics.
Do Not Think That Lim Guan Eng Is A Chauvinist
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has criticised the New Economic Policy (NEP) as soon as took office as Penang Chief Minister. Since then, some people have called him as a chauvinist. However, PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail doesn't think he is one. She said that the same argument addressed by different people will cause different reactions. Meanwhile, the abolition of the NEP is a good example.
“Anwar has also raised the same view, but no called him a chauvinist. The reason is very simple: Anwar is a Malay. When the Malays suggested to abolish the NEP, these remarks will no longer be sensitive.
However, Lim is not a Malay. When he made these remarks and after these remarks were reported by the Malay mainstream media, it seemed that the Malays will lose a lot. Following that, this issue has evolved into a sensitive topic.” Wan Azizah said that the Umno, MCA and MIC have long emphasised on the distinction between races. This concept must be changed.
Pakatan Rakyat Needs Time To Correct Deep-rooted Problems
PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail said she understands that some people support the opposition in the recent elections because they have lost patience and confidence towards the BN. However, she hoped that the people would give some time and patience to the Pakatan Rakyat as many deep-rooted problems have existed for decades, in which they cannot be corrected over a short period of time.
“Some people voted for us because they hate the BN and dissatisfied with its 50 years of ruling. They hope that we can make the changes. This is a very heavy and big challenge.” She pointed out that even though the Pakatan Rakyat is governing in the five states, but some issues cannot be changed immediately. For example, the valid period of the contracts signed previously is 20 years. If the state governments break the contracts, the consequences will be very serious. Pakatan Rakyat must learn to overcome these things.
“The people desire to see changes. However, I hope that they will be more patient, because changes cannot be achieved overnight after 50 years of Barisan rule.”
It Is Impossible For Anwar To Return To Umno
Since the recent elections, the parliament is yet to convene and there are already rumours that Anwar is going to persuade the BN members to join the opposition, in a bid to become the ruling party. Some people are also worried that Anwar will return to Umno, and become the Prime Minister. PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail stressed that it is impossible for Anwar to return to Umno. She said it is undeniable that Anwar was an Umno party member and was even the deputy prime minister. However, it is now impossible for him to return to Umno.
“Anwar joined the Umno to carry out internal reforms. Anwar knows that Malaysia is a multiracial country, and therefore he chose Umno. He thought he had the opportunity to start the changes from the basis. He tried to make changes, but some people said his reforms were too radical and he was too ambitious. However, he cannot wait. The country needs to spend a lot of money to build different buildings. Anwar cannot wait.
Therefore, when Anwar became the acting Prime Minister, he developed anti-corruption decree, in hope that the decree would be useful when he is in power. Perhaps it is a wrong decision. I do not know. These incidents are valuable experiences and lessons for Anwar. (courtesy of Sin Chew Daily- MySinchew 2008.04.30)