MALAYSIA should not expect a House of Cards-esque husband and wife premiership, newly released de facto leader of the ruling coalition, Anwar Ibrahim, said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s 101 East on Thursday.
Anwar, whose wife is the new deputy prime minister, is expected to take up the mantle of Malaysia’s leader once he is ready to return to political life.
This would make the duo a husband and wife team in the highest positions in the country. But that will never happen says Anwar, who promises Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will resign the deputy premiership once he takes his place as prime minister.
“Naturally once I assume the premiership, Azizah will then resign,” he told 101 East.
“Although they continue to use this campaign – Can you imagine the prime minister, deputy prime minister – husband and wife team?” he said, referring to detractors who have criticised the set up.
“Which is of course a blatant lie, because we have made it clear once I assume the premiership, Azizah will resign.”
Wan Azizah became president of then-opposition People’s Justice Party (PKR) after Anwar was jailed in 2015 on a historical, and previously overturned, charge of sodomy.
For those years, she was essentially the leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition that ultimately brought down the 61-year rule of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) led coalition in last week’s election.
Despite being seen as a proxy who Anwar was working through from his jail cell, Wan Azizah was the president in her own right and deserves credit, says Anwar.
“Firstly, she’s president of the party and she led the party in my absence in incarceration,” Anwar said.
“Which means she had to handle everything, decisions taken on her own because she could meet me rarely. And even then surrounded by guards, she’s not able to discuss anything substantive, which means, therefore, she has done it.”
Anwar plans to spend time with his family and undertake a lecture tour to world universities before taking office. He believes he has an obligation to tell the story of Malaysia as the “Muslim world also needs to hear the voice of reason on democratic transition and democratic accountability.”