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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wan Azizah: Why should Anwar quit now?

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:10 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Should Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has faced not one but three damaging sexual allegations, quit politics?

This was the question posed to PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail about her embattled husband, who will take the witness stand on Monday to face his second sodomy trial.

According to Wan Azizah, she does not believe Anwar should throw in the towel just yet, but conceded that the thought did cross her mind.

"Not now. Before, yes - when he was a professor in Johns Hopkins (University). I enjoyed life (then). I must be frank about it. We were an ordinary family (then) - the kids were there (in United States), having their education, getting on with life and we had a nice time.

"But there is a choice (to make). I think of the dire condition of the politics in our country. Not only Anwar is needed, everybody is needed. One man cannot make much difference, but each and every Malaysian can. That is what I would like to see happening."

When quizzed whether she would join the political fray again should Anwar be imprisoned following his trial, Azizah said:

"If I am needed, of course. But there are so many others who are tested leaders... However, if I'm needed, (I will) as I have been all those years.

"I'm not so much of a regular politician. I think I have an image of being able to bring everyone together. For the rest (of the work), I'm banking on younger leaders."

Plan A, Plan B and Plan C

When pressed further on the possibility of Anwar being thrown into prison again, Wan Azizah was hopeful that this would not happen.
"We plan on the basis that he is not taken in. Of course, there are contingency plans - Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. 

"Let's be optimistic... janganlah doa begitu (do not pray for that)," she said.

Wan Azizah did not provide much clues as to who would lead Pakatan Rakyat should the opposition coalition capture Putrajaya without Anwar at the helm.

"When the situation comes, we will arrive at a consensus (decision). Even if Pakatan comes to power, we still need checks and balance. You cannot have absolute power, you cannot have dictatorship," she stressed.

Azizah said PKR has trained enough younger politicians to fill the void left by outgoing leaders.

From DPM's wife to PKR leader

Reminiscing about the years when Anwar was in Umno, Azizah said she continued working as a doctor since she was bonded to serve the government for 10 years after graduating from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
"I just carried on working, and only occasionally did I appear as the spouse of a politician or minister. I was also in Bakti (Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers), where I became the deputy, as this goes with the position of the husband.

"But when 1998 came, I became a full-time spouse and staunch supporter of my husband."

Azizah said her life took a dramatic turn, after Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister and expelled from Umno.

"My role changed. My perception of people from whatever I was also changed. But for me, I'm still the same small-town girl from Alor Setar.

"I remember giving a talk after this thing (being leader of PKR) at the Ateneo de Manila University.

"I told the audience I had the privilege of having a good education. I had tertiary education, but the education I received in life, of life's circumstances, taught me more, and taught me how to carry myself and go ahead in life," said the mother of six.

Friends and foes

When questioned whether she has maintained contact with the spouses of Umno ministers, she admitted it was difficult because of the political situation in Malaysia.

"When I was in Parliament, one of my old acquaintances came to me. She was still in (government) service. She expressed sympathy, we spoke - it was nothing much, just light exchange. After that, I heard she was called up by her head of department.
"Because of this, I do not actually go and seek them out because I don't want them to get into trouble. It's not that I don't want (to maintain contact), it's just it may not be good for them (to be seen with me), so I keep away."

Asked whether she has had contacts with former Anwar loyalist Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, now an Umno vice-president, Azizah said she knew his wife well.

"We've known each other since 1987. I met his wife when she came to me after he (Zahid) was held under the Internal Security Act. 

"She told me the difficulties they went through. Later, he made his choice (to stay in Umno), and now he is defence minister.

"If we meet along the corridor or something, we will say 'hi' and that's it."

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