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Anwar's daughter beset by talk of divorce

Publication Date : 24-01-2014


Malaysia's opposition star Nurul Izzah Anwar and her husband Raja Ahmad Sharir Iskandar Raja Salim have appealed for privacy amid frenzied speculation that she is seeking a divorce.

Following a report by The Star Online on Thursday citing a divorce petition in religious family court filed in December, the couple issued a statement to say that they will do their "utmost" to work on their marriage.

"We are deeply saddened by the undignified intrusion into our private lives and will do our utmost to work out our continuing union," they said. "Our family is our priority, as is our time together."

The Star later reported that Nurul Izzah, the eldest daughter of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, may withdraw the petition against her husband of 11 years after being persuaded by their families to reconcile.

Nurul Izzah, 33, a star in the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat where she holds the position of vice-president, married Raja Ahmad Shahrir, 35, on May 9, 2003. They have a seven-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

Nurul Izzah is MP for the constituency of Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur, and has a reputation as a giant-slayer, having defeated United Malays National Organisation (Umno) women's chief Shahrizat Jalil in 2008. Last year, she fended off a challenge from then Cabinet Minister Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin.

She is hugely popular among middle class liberals for her strong multiracial image, and is seen as a potential national leader.

She first burst onto the political scene in 1998 after her father was sacked as deputy prime minister and charged in court with corruption and sodomy. Nurul Izzah became his strongest defender. From a shy teenager, she grew to become a powerful public speaker and politician, outshining even her father.

Raja Ahmad Shahrir keeps a low profile. He reportedly works in corporate finance in a management consultancy, and is also a research associate at the PR-linked Institut Rakyat think-tank.

News of their reported split spread like wildfire on social media, with several websites offering wildly speculative reasons.

With the response being generally shock and surprise, there is no indication that this will hurt her political career which rests on a foundation of liberal principles rather than a family image.

Nurul Izzah initially refused to respond to Thursday's reports. Stopped by reporters at a conference on Thursday, she said: "I'm leaving now. Thank you for respecting my privacy."

However, when asked on Twitter if she was seeking a divorce, she said in reply: "wassalam. Nope."


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