Ambiga also said it is wrong to engineer poll just for Anwar.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s return to mainstream politics could spark concerns over “potential nepotism” in the government, former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today.
Ambiga cautioned that there was already growing perception that the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition was nepotistic, and said the view could be reinforced if Anwar is given a government post upon victory.
“We see it present in PH now as a whole, not just in PKR. They need to watch out for that,” Ambiga told reporters.
“Nepotism doesn’t necessarily stop people from running, but it’s about posts or offices that are held subsequently and they need to guard against nepotism,” she added.
Anwar’s wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is currently the deputy prime minister while his daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, is MP for Permatang Pauh.
Ambiga said Anwar contesting or that most of his family members are part of the political system may not indicate nepotism, but stressed that it took very little to cross the line.
“They have to really think about it.
“They have to remember they were also against it when they were the Opposition,” she said.
Ambiga also criticised PKR for forcing a by-election for Anwar through the resignation of one of its MPs, calling it wrong and a betrayal to voters.
Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, 68, resigned as PKR’s Port Dickson MP on Wednesday to force a by-election to pave the way for Anwar’s re-election to Parliament.
Ambiga said the decision was a disservice both to Port Dickson voters and the federal lawmaker who resigned.
“I feel sorry for the people, I feel sorry for him,” she said.
“I feel it is a disservice to the system of democracy.”
Ambiga was a member of the Institutional Reform Committee that pushed for electoral reforms.
“I have no issue with Anwar coming back he’s entitled to do that but my understanding or the public had the understanding that one of the family members would give up (their seats),” she said.
Ambiga, who was among the lead defence lawyers who represented Anwar at his second sodomy trial, suggested that Danyal was forced to resign.
“Of course they would say he did voluntarily but I see it differently,” she said without elaborating further.
Danyal’s resignation for Anwar also drew mixed response from Malaysians, although the electoral reform committee said there was nothing illegal about the move.
Prime Minister and Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 93, had already indicated that Anwar would succeed him in time but talks of an internal struggle have since spread.
Anwar has yet to comment about his party’s decision to force vacate the Port Dickson seat, but critics saw the move as part of his plan to hasten the succession.