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Anwar Ibrahim's wife sworn in as opposition leader

Takes oath after winning MP seat for opposition stronghold in by-election called after husband jailed on sodomy charges.

Anwar Ibrahim's wife sworn in as opposition leader

By P Prem Kumar


The wife of Malaysia’s jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has assumed his post after taking an oath in parliament Monday.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 62, won her husband’s stronghold of Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, Penang state, in a by-election earlier this month. The vote had been called after Ibrahim, 67, was sentenced to five years jail for sodomizing his former aide.

Ismail, who is also People's Justice Party (PKR) president, polled 30,316 votes May 7 to beat ruling National Alliance's Suhaimi Sabudin by 8,841 -- fewer than the 11,721-majority garnered by Ibrahim in the 2013 general election.

During the swearing-in ceremony Monday, Ismail was accompanied by opposition parliamentarians and her two children.

In a press conference later in the day, she thanked the two other parties in the opposition coalition for nominating her to fill their most powerful parliamentary post.

She said her win in Permatang Pauh clearly indicated the relevance of Ibrahim's struggle and calls for the reformation of Malaysia’s government.

"As the opposition leader, I am proposing a couple of matters to the government which include a parliamentary-bound fiscal committee and a shadow opposition cabinet where MPs would be assigned to follow each ministry to check the wrongdoings of the government," she added.

Ismail previously held the opposition leader position for one term when Ibrahim -- a former deputy prime minister -- was sentenced to seven year imprisonment in 1999 on similar charges.

Political analyst Dr. Bushan Singh told Anadolu Agency on Monday that Ismail would face an uphill battle in keeping up with the latest developments in the country after seven low-profile years.

"Although she was PKR chair all this while, after Anwar Ibrahim became Permatang Pauh member of parliament, he stole the show and he was behind the wife's every move."

Referring to the proposed implementation of Islamic penal code in Kelantan state that has divided the opposition, he stressed that Ismail must "be keeping touch of the latest developments and would be responsible to align the opposition pact's direction on the proposed hudud bill."

Singh added, however, that Ismail would not struggle in catching up, like during her first term as opposition leader, "as experience as well as other opposition members of parliament should help".

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