Dr Wan Azizah: Why I am replacing Anwar again

wan azizah vs mei fun AP

Sheridan Mahavera and Mohd Farhan Darwis, TMI

Kajang by-election candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pic) says that she is foregoing retirement from active politics to right an injustice for the benefit of her grandchildren.

She tells The Malaysian Insider that her standing in for husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the second time in her life is not to capitalise on public sympathy, but to fulfill a national responsibility.

Q: How did you feel when you were told that you were chosen to replace Anwar?

A: I was very reluctant to enter active politics again. After Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had been released from prison (in 2005), I felt that I had done with what I had set out to do. When this happened again (the Court of Appeal decision to disqualify Anwar from contesting) Pakatan Rakyat partners PAS and DAP, together with PKR’s political bureau, discussed and came up with my name. I felt that it was part of national service. I also felt revulsion over the way the courts were used. I felt that I had to do something. For the remainder of my life, this is my contribution to the future generation. This is part of what I want to leave behind for my grandkids.

Q: Given that you are the PKR president, you may have had ideas on who was going to become the candidate. How was that decision made to choose you and why was someone else not chosen?

A: When I was told that my name came up, I felt it was not wise for me to be in discussions (about the candidate). When this was tabled to me, it was part of my responsibility to fulfil. It is quite natural because I am the face that when voters see, they think of Anwar. It may not be the other way around – when they see Anwar they think of me. When they look at me, they think of Anwar. And I want that. I want them to remember that this is an injustice. Not Anwar per se, this is also part of the hardship that our family faces. It’s also because of injustice we have to fight. It’s part of our responsibility.

Q: What is the message that you are bringing to Kajang voters as before this, Anwar’s candidacy had a specific message about the Kajang move. So what about you?

A: It’s the same because (the Kajang move) has not been derailed. Our objective in the Kajang move (remains). They tried to derail it by putting Anwar in jail. I am still the president and this is the party’s move. It is Pakatan’s move. We talked about why we want to do it.

There was a time when religious fundamentalism was used to create disharmony and distrust between Malaysians. One of our strengths as Malaysians is the harmony between all religions, with Islam as the official religion. We can’t make Islam into something intolerant. Like when you slaughter chickens and throw it at people or you threaten to slap someone. This is not Islam. If you want to spread the Islamic message it must be with wisdom. And Islam is a religion of peace.

It is also to increase the performance of the Selangor government. We’ve made good changes, but with Anwar being in state assembly and the state government compared to him being a financial advisor, he could have contributed more.

If I am in the DUN (Selangor Legislature) I would also be able to help Kajang in our efforts to get to Putrajaya by making Selangor a model of good governance.

As ADUN (state assemblyperson) I should address the woes of Kajang folk. There are many local issues, the high crime rate, cleanliness, rubbish collection and job opportunities for youth and women. Then there is, of course, the traffic jams.

Because of the jams, it was the second time I rode on a motorcycle  (to the nomination centre).

Q: It’s also the second time you replaced Anwar (as a candidate).

A: That is true.

Q: How do you feel doing this for the second time?

A: The second time is a bit easy (smiles), but the first time was a shock. But there was already a team in place, which has set up base here. I also campaigned with Anwar. I went to kenduris and gatherings with him. We are also studying ways to deal with the traffic jams in the constituency and I hope to bring this up in DUN.