Asia Malaysia Nurul Izzah: What happened to democracy here?

Nurul Izzah: What happened to democracy here?

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Kuala Lumpur – Nurul Izzah does not mince her words and according to her and other politicians in Malaysia, the country’s democracy is in limbo. Political activists are banding together to support calls for democratic system reform or a return to true Parliamentary democracy.

I asked a series of questions about Malaysia’s democracy after the 2020 events in interviews with local political heavyweights.

PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his surprise resignation in February 2020. He stepped down as Prime Minister without handing over the reins to Anwar Ibrahim. He had promised to do so several times.

His resignation triggered a political crisis in Malaysia, which has yet to be resolved.

Mahathir defended himself, claiming that he had no choice but to resign because his party had abandoned him in favour of ex-PM and nemesis Najib Razak.


In an interview in October of last year, he said he asked ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin a crucial question. Mr Yassin was a minister in Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan cabinet at the time.

“I asked Mahaidin (Muhyiddin’s real name) whether he is willing to break the government in order to sit with Najib, the corrupt Umno leader, and form a new government?” 

He went on to say that Muhyiddin’s response was a resounding ‘Yes.’ I’ll collaborate with Najib.”

The elderly statesman stated that he could not accept this. That is what prompted him to resign as Prime Minister, pleading with Malaysia’s King to re-appoint him if he has a majority in Parliament.

In February 2020, he argued that democracy in Malaysia is now fluid, and party hopping is common. He hasn’t changed his mind today.

However, Mahathir was unable to secure a majority because his party, Bersatu, had joined forces with Umno and the Islamists PAS to form a new coalition, the Perikatan Nasional. Muhyiddin was appointed Prime Minister by the PN.

Restore Parliamentary Democracy 

For Penang MP Nurul Izzah, democratic growth is about transparency and the freedom of the MPs in parliament.


“A fully functioning Parliament will benefit the people and will provide safety net for Malaysians,” she said.

Nurul Izzah, the daughter of Keadilan leader Anwar Ibrahim, was interviewed on Zoom in December last year. She is one of the most visible faces of the reform movement.

According to political observers, Nurul Izzah has taken a back seat due to the country’s political impasse. She has however kept her parliamentary seat meanwhile. 

Malaysia is currently in a state of democratic limbo, which has created a gap for the people. Many people have spoken out, criticising the “frogs” who are winning elections all over the world.

This prompted the question, “What has happened to democracy here (Malaysia)?” Nurul Izzah responded that the pandemic has changed a lot of things.

While she acknowledges that democracy is facing difficult challenges, she proposes a return to a strong Parliamentary democracy, which she believes will aid in the resolution of many issues.

For example, she claims that the country needs to re-establish a stronger economy that will allow people to earn a living. Parliament is where MPs can and must fight for the betterment of the people.

She claims that it is the role of MPs to fight for the betterment of the people, including obtaining financial assistance for various groups in financial difficulty.

“I consider the functioning of Parliament, and while I am grateful that we have a parliament, it will be meaningless unless we give it the ability to fully function.”

She claims that the house has a moral obligation to debate motions that are understandable to the public. She criticises the Speaker for not allowing a debate on the recent floods that hit the country, claiming that this exposes the system’s flaws.


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