Anwar's wife steering a steadier ship, 20 years on

Reluctant politician has tackled challenges of leading Malaysia's PKR in husband's absence

Permatang Pauh, the stronghold of Malaysia's top opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will see a stiff three-cornered fight in the coming Malaysian election. Residents weigh in on who they are rooting for.
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was thrust unwillingly into politics after her husband Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and later jailed for sodomy. She said her belief in her husband's innocence gave her the strength to soldier on
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was thrust unwillingly into politics after her husband Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and later jailed for sodomy. She said her belief in her husband's innocence gave her the strength to soldier on to win his freedom and justice.ST PHOTO: ARLINA ARSHAD

Whispering into the ears of her husband and Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim during a visit to prison, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had once asked, in jest, if she could swop places with him.

Thrust unwillingly into politics after Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and later jailed for sodomy, the Singapore-born former ophthalmologist had found herself in unfamiliar waters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Anwar's wife steering a steadier ship, 20 years on'. Subscribe