WAS it easy to forgive Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister’s banker brother, Nazir Razak asked Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter today at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
According to Malaysiakini, the CIMB chairman sprang the question on PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar while she was taking questions from the audience with whom she had shared the story of her political evolution.
“Can you share a little bit more about your first meeting with Mahathir Mohamad after everything; was it so easy to forgive him?” asked Nazir, who was seated in the front row.
The most difficult moment was when her eyes first met Dr Mahathir’s, said Nurul Izzah.
“You are talking about close to 20 years that have passed by, years of going to and fro the prison to visit my father.
“But I think we must understand that while you might hate a man for his actions, you must not personalise his being.
“For me, I welcome everybody to be part of the reform agenda as long as they are clear that there is no justification for any sort of dictatorship or autocracy,” she said.
She said she was polite the first few times she met Dr Mahathir because she was brought up to be civil.
“Eventually, believe it or not, we spent Valentine’s Day (together) – not just with him, relax. I had a fundraising dinner on February 14 and invited him.
“He came with his wife together with other politicians.”
Nurul Izzah had earlier credited Dr Mahathir, who she called her “least-liked dictator” for her career in politics, when she would have pursued engineering if her father had not been accused of and jailed for sodomy.
Anwar Ibrahim was deputy prime minister to the former prime minister Dr Mahathir, who in 1998 fired him amid accusations of abuse of power and sodomy, the latter of which Anwar is now serving a five-year jail sentence.
The two have recently struck up an unlikely working alliance, however, with Anwar as the de facto opposition chief and Dr Mahathir as the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, in an effort to remove Najib Razak as prime minister.
Ultimately, Nurul Izzah said, it was not about personal suffering but about placing the country above all else.
“So remember, if you continue in the pursuit of justice with objectivity, with compassion, I believe even the most autocratic of autocrats can be changed.”