Delay in announcing Nurul Izzah’s appointment as PM’s senior economic, finance advisor raises questions

Nurul Izzah Anwar

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made no secret when he appointed former Petronas president and CEO, Tan Sri Hassan Marican as one of his advisors after he named his Cabinet on Dec 2.

As such, it came as a shock to many when Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, revealed that she had been appointed his senior economics and finance advisor on Jan 3.

Nurul Izzah’s appointment only came to light over the weekend. Anwar later tried to justify her role, by saying that she was not being paid a single sen.

“Any political appointment – and make no mistake, this is a political appointment – must be done openly and transparently,” said political analyst Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.

“People have a right to know who has been appointed and why. The question now is not why Nurul Izzah, but rather, why was it kept quiet.

“It has been nearly four weeks since she assumed the advisory role. Why the secrecy? If they have nothing to hide, why not announce it when it happened?”

Azeem said the public had a right to know why her appointment was kept under wraps for nearly a month.

“How does this make Anwar’s administration different from the ones before it? The previous leaders made these appointments according to their whims and fancies. How is this (Nurul Izzah’s appointment) different from what they did?” he asked.

Azeem said it does not matter that she is not drawing a salary or receiving an allowance.

“If you are in such a delicate and important position, you must be transparent. The people must know who is advising the prime minister,” he said.

Azeem also wondered how Nurul Izzah, who failed to defend her Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat – which had been in Anwar’s family for 40 years – was qualified for the job.

Nurul Izzah has degrees in engineering and public and social policy.

Azeem also wondered how Nurul Izzah’s appointment would reflect on Economic Affairs Minister Rafizi Ramli.

“It can be interpreted in many ways. I wonder how Rafizi feels.

“It is the PM’s prerogative whom to appoint as an advisor. However, those appointed are usually experts in their field – like Hassan,” said Azeem.

“It is true that the prime minister does not have to depend purely on his ministers.

“He can have advisors, but this is an important role, as she is the ‘senior advisor’. Granted, she does not have executive powers, and Anwar can ignore her advice.

“But it is a powerful post. Only highly qualified people should be appointed.”

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