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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wan Azizah: I don't want to be compared to Rosmah

Sulaiman Kamal | 5:01 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The prime minister's wife, Rosmah Mansor, has received her fair share of criticism, including allegations about her big spending shopping excursions when accompanying Najib Razak on his overseas trips.
However, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (left) said such behaviour is totally unlike her. "God forbid I will be like Rosmah," she exclaimed.
Wan Azizah, speaking at her home in Bukit Segambut, told Malaysiakini that she had been in a similar position when her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, was the deputy prime minister.
"I have been overseas and when meeting with the ambassador's wife and she would ask me, 'Where do you want to go?'

"I said I was told the Smithsonian Museum was good. She (the ambassador's wife) told me, 'You know, you are the first minister's wife to ask me to bring you to the museum'. And I said, 'Oh, really!' Does that answer your question?"
Wan Azizah was responding to a question that the PM and his wife had received brickbats over Rosmah's (right) alleged shopping escapades overseas.
The PKR president - who graduated in medicine from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where she specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology and later gaining a degree in ophthalmology - argued she is different from Rosmah.
She gave another example relating to one of her trips to London.
"I told them I wanted to see the Islamic section of the British Museum. This was because I was told the section director by the name of Abu Bakar had embraced Islam and became a Muslim.
"I wanted to see what they had in that section. The ambassador's wife told me that it was the first time she had gone to the British Museum," she said.
The reluctant politician
Wan Azizah also said her decision to step down as an MP would not lead to a vacuum of female leaders in the opposition front.
"I know some people felt disappointed when I stepped down as MP for Permatang Pauh in 2008. My mother felt the same way.
"However, I thought Anwar will be a better person (for Permatang Pauh) as politician and parliamentarian.
"Since I left, there is still Nurul Izzah, Fuziah (Salleh), Zuraida (Kamaruddin), Siti Mariah (Mahmud), the late Dr Lo' Lo' (Ghazali), Teresa Kok and Teo Nie Ching.
"Who says there are no women there. Nurul Izzah is there and she had defeated (senator) Shahrizat (Jalil, the then women and family development minister)."
Wan Azizah is seen as a reluctant politician who was compelled to enter politics in 1998 when Anwar was charged and jailed for sodomy and corruption.
The mother of six also expressed pride over the detention of her youngest daughter, 20-year-old Nurul Iman, at the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9.
"I heard Izzah (was arrested), and then, oh dear, I heard that Iman (was also arrested). She told me, 'Mom, I could not run' - the poor girl. Despite this, I was very proud of her.
"Nurul Izzah, being the eldest, told her sisters - all five of them - if they ever get caught, do not cry, be strong.
"When the police questioned her, she replied, "Saya tidak akan jawab sehingga saya ada peguam (I will not answer until I have a lawyer). And I told her that was very brave of her," said the PKR president.
"Now she is very charged up and she told me, 'Mom, let's buy some (gas) masks for the next Bersih rally, so we will be better prepared'."
Will others enter politics?
Quizzed on whether she would see other members of her family entering politics, Wan Azizah said she did not groom any of her children to do so.
"It's just that Nurul Izzah was there and she grew to be a confident (woman). She was 17 when this happened (Anwar's first sodomy charge).
"They told me they smuggled Nurul Izzah in a boat to Batam, while bringing three shirts and one pants and a knapsack, to meet Pak Habibie (then Indonesian president Jusuf Habibie).
"Later she met (then Philippines president) Joseph Estrada. Nurul Izzah was young, but she had some experiences."

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