Was Nurul Izzah's appointment the right move?

31 Jan 2023 01:10pm
Anwar with Nurul Izzah. - Photo from Nurul Izzah's Instagram.
Anwar with Nurul Izzah. - Photo from Nurul Izzah's Instagram.

SHAH ALAM - The appointment of Nurul Izzah as Senior Economic and Financial Advisor to the Prime Minister sparks debates and polemics among analysts, politicians and the public.

In a way, it could be seen that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's decision was to ensure it was a trusted individual to oversee the formulation and implementation of relevant policies and report directly to him for further actions.

The appointment of the former Permatang Pauh MP would not involve any implications towards government funds as she would not receive a salary or a monthly allowance.

Many viewed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman's decision went against moral principles as he criticised the previous administration for cronyism and nepotism.

The cronyism practices often criticised by PH was the appointment of political leaders as chairman or directors in government-linked companies (GLCs) as well as special advisers to the government and even special ambassadors to the prime minister abroad.

When Anwar had done so, it was as if he gave a loaded gun for his enemies to criticise him personally and towards the unity government as well.

Anwar himself explained the appointment was based on Nurul Izzah's qualifications with a first degree in engineering and a second degree in public and social policy from John Hopkins University, United States.

Elzar Group & elzarshariah.com founder and Islamic Finance Expert Zaharuddin Abd Rahman said the appointment should not be linked to cronyism if Nurul Izzah has high merit in carrying out her task be it in economics or its branch.

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Zaharuddin. - Photo from Zaharuddin's Facebook
Zaharuddin. - Photo from Zaharuddin's Facebook

Nurul Izzah in an interview with The Star explained she hoped her previous experience as an MP which focused on poverty, education as well as technical and vocational training (TVET) and her service in the National Accounts Committee.

One of the goals was to tap into the best Malaysian talent inside and outside of the government and improve the people's economic condition.

"I believe it was reasonable for the prime minister to appoint Nurul Izzah because he needs someone trusted to supervise, filter and digest information provided by experts and experienced government officials from various agencies with integrity and transparently and critically.

"The position serves to form a draft formulation of any policy that would be brought as a proposal to the prime minister.

"If that is the task, I understand the prime minister needing someone who politically understood the intention of reform with high integrity and was critical like Nurul Izzah," Zaharuddin told Sinar Premium.

He said he had no problems to accept Anwar's justification for the appointment as it was based on politics similar to the appointment of a political secretary and confidential secretary.

"Politically-based appointments did not lean too heavily towards academic qualifications as the selection of Cabinet ministers was based on politics and the party leading the government.

"If a Cabinet minister qualified for a field with their portfolio in the Cabinet it is an additional advantage, but it is fine without such," he explained.

Economic analyst and Malaysian Future Institute (MASA) Honorary Fellow Datuk Madeline Berma said the appointment of an individual as an advisor to the prime minister and the government must be based on the qualifications, knowledge and experience in related fields.

"When the prime minister appointed Nurul Izzah, I am sure he had his personal and concrete reasons for doing so.

"I hope Nurul Izzah would provide advice to improve further the economic situation and the people's lives in Malaysia," she said.

Ilham Centre Executive Director Hisommudin Bakar stated Anwar should not have appointed Nurul Izzah as it contradicted the anti-nepotism and cronyism campaign and the reform he called for while he was the opposition leader.


The action sparked various negative perceptions of Anwar's leadership even though it was an unnecessary controversy that could have been avoided by the government led by the Tambun MP.

Hisommuddin said even though she did not receive a salary or allowance, the question remained why Anwar would appoint his own daughter as it went against his previous stance what he stated previously.

He said Anwar previously proved his firm actions when he postponed the appointment of former Machang MP Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub as Felcra chairman made by deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"I believe if there are experts such as academic figures and economists including Professor Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram was appointed, it would not cause any controversy or criticism," he said.