DATUK Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 65, is the president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Selangor state legislative assembly member for Kajang.
But there is a side of Wan Azizah that has not been explored. She is also a mother to six children, and a grandmother to nine grandchildren.
To celebrate Mother’s day which falls May 14, we examine Dr Wan Azizah as a mother and a grandmother through the eyes of her eldest daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar.
“My mother had faced so many trail and tribulations in her life,” says Nurul, who is a member of Parliment for Lembah Pantai.
“But my mother is a spiritual person. She relies on God for strength and support.”
Born on Dec 3, 1952, in Singapore, Wan Azizah received her early education in Alor Setar and Seremban. Then, Wan Azizah studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where she was awarded a gold medal in obstetrics and gynaecology, and later graduated as a qualified ophthalmologist.
Nurul remembers in the early years when she was a student, and her mother was busy working in the government hospital, her mother would sit with Nurul and helped Nurul to complete her home work.
“My mother always made time for me and my home work, no matter how busy she was,” says Nurul.
Wan Azizah never expected to be a politician, but fate had something different in store for her.
Nurul honestly admitted that when she was younger, she was resentful that her mother was spending so much time in politics.
“I missed having my mum on my side,” says the 36-year old Nurul.
“But as I got older, I understand her motivation and her sacrifice better. She wants a better future for her children, her grandchildren, and for every young Malaysian out there. You can only achieve this dream if you are busy eradicating the society ills. She is very focus of her responsibility and her role .”
Politics keeps Wan Azizah busy but she never neglects her family.
“Her parents are still alive, and she is a doting daughter,” says Nurul.
“She always there when her parents need her. [The same] goes with her children. ”
Once a week, Wan Azizah makes a point to have all her children and her grandchildren under one roof, and to have a good family bonding session. They talk about everything under the sun, as well as enjoy delicious food.
“My mother bakes well, and loves baking bread,” Nurul says.
“She has a great sense of humour and she always makes us laugh. She could have her own stand up comedy show. ”
Nurul reveals that her mother is very good at winning the hearts of her grandchildren when they are at their worst behaviour.
“She [manages] to persuade her grandchildren to end their tantrums, and she uses a lot of psychology to achieve this goal,” Nurul says.
When asked how Nurul and her siblings will celebrate Mother’s Day, Nurul says: “My mother is a homebody. She prefers to stay at home. It is very rare for you to get her out for a dinner. We can’t even get something expensive for her. She loves to embrace the simple things in life.”
Nurul also believes that one should not treat their mother well just on Mother’s Day, and “be ungrateful” to them for the other 364 days.
“In fact every day is supposed to Mother’s Day,” says Nurul.
“One should always appreciate one’s mother. There is a Malay saying that ‘syurga itu di bawah telapak kaki ibu’ (Paradise is under your mother’s feet).”
Nurul herself is a mother of two – Safiyah, 10 and Raja Harith, eight – and being a mother has made her appreciate her own mum more.
“When you hold a life in your hand for the first time, you will realise all the sacrifices your mother goes through,” she says.
When asked what kind lessons she wants to impart to her children, she says: “I want them to be exposed to different culture and respect them. I want them to understand the world is not made for one race.”