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Nurul Izzah (Part 2): We are fighting for justice.
Daughter of Anwar Ibrahim Nurul Izzah speaks to supporters on a street outside of Sogo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (3/7). Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
Thursday, 19 March, 2015 | 15:16 WIB
Nurul Izzah (Part 2): We are fighting for justice.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - After being released from custody, Nurul Izzah will continue to be a target of the Malaysian police. Nurul is the child of Anwar Ibrahim, a prominent figure and leader of the Malaysian opposition, who was arrested under the Hasutan Act, sedition laws created by the English colonial government in 1948.

Nurul, who is the president of the People's Justice Party, has been reported to the Police by retired parliamentarian Zulkifli Noordin, for making comments that was considered to be demeaning the Malaysian Court. In the parliament, Nurul read out a statement  from her farther – who is currently in jail – that questioned the independence of the Malaysian court system.

Nurul was detained last Monday, however by Tuesday evening, March 17, this mother of two children were released from custody. The following is an exclusive interview from Tempo with Nurul Izzah, speaking over the phone line just a few hours after she was released.

So what are you going to do after this?

We will be making a complaint to the head of the national police, Khalid Abu Bakar, for the wrong and unjust arrest of me, which was unconstitutional. The reason I was arrested is unacceptable, because the legal basis that was used is actually, according to the Mahkamah Rayuan (the Court of Appeal), is already obsolete. So, the police were not only disrespecting the parliament, but also disrespecting the laws of our legal system. The police behave as if they are autonomous, have absolute power above all other state institutions. We will request that the head of the national police be held accountable for these actions in front on the parliament.


How about the response from your colleagues at the parliament?

I have received a standing ovation from my friends in the parliament. I arrived there wearing the same shirt when I was arrested. But the real issue is not about me. The real issue is about democracy.  If this is allowed to continue, we will all suffer the consequences. Currently it is indeed about what’s happened to me, but another time it could happen to them (other parliamentarians). In my opinion, the authority of the parliament—whether it be the opposition or the government—must be protected.


What was the reaction from your children when you were arrested?

They are still little, the eldest is only seven-and-a-half, the youngest is only five-and-a-half. My youngest was sick, vomiting with a fever all day after I was arrested. This was really sad, but it was also important for them to see what actually happened. As they grow-up they must really understand why democracy is so important. I do not want them to be sheltered, spoiled, having everything handed over on a silver platter, because in reality life is full of challenges.    


What did you say to them?

I said you must be brave and you must do your homework (laughing), both of those things are important.


Did you cry when you were in jail?

Oh, no…I only cried when I was hugging my children just before I was arrested. I did not want to cry, because I was being unjustly arrested.  We struggle; it is the right thing to do. There is no need to be sad. This is just a part of our struggle. I said thank you to the staff at the jail, because they treated me very well. I think of my imprisonment as a learning process. I see all of that and I feel so strongly, about all the things we have to do, the reform of our national system itself, to one that is more legitimate.


Were you together with any other prisoners?

In the cell opposite me there was a mother, an illegal immigrant from Vietnam, together with her two children who were two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years old. I could hear them crying. Of course they were crying… unlike them I'm an adult and even I couldn't sleep, I felt so bad, I can't imagine how those children must have felt. I also saw a teenager in there who was only fifteen years old, they had been arrested for being involved with ISIS.



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