Images of Lembah Pantai MP and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar standing alongside the daughter of the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, who ordered the Lahad Datu invasion in February 2013, have gone viral, prompting online outrage.
The most prominent photo of the two show Nurul Izzah and Jacel Kiram, daughter of ‘Sultan’ Jamalul Kiram III, holding up banners saying “Release Anwar Immediately”, referring to Nurul Izzah’s father, jailed former Parliamentary Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Jacel is currently running for a seat in the Filipino Senate, on a campaign platform of wresting the state of Sabah from Malaysia and intergrating it into the Philippines.
Jamalul Kiram III had ordered the incursion of 200 of his armed loyalists into Sabah in February 2013, kickstarting a tense standoff between his guerillas and the Malaysian Armed Forces. Both sides suffered casualties as a result of the armed incursion.
Following the cooling down of the situation, the Federal Government established the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), an armed security zone running some 1,400 kilometres from Kudat to Tawau.
The Star Online’s T Avineshwaran reports that the images of the two together were shot sometime this month.
The photos have elicited strong reactions from both sides of Parliament.
Arau MP Shahidan Kassim of BN said it was not appropriate to disseminate such images online at a time when Bernard Then’s alleged slaying at the hands of his Abu Sayyaf captors was still a hot-button issue.
“It’s a sensitive issue; she (Nurul Izzah) will need to clarify things since the photos have gone viral.
“I know she is a kind-hearted person who will not do something evil. But I think she will need to explain those photos,” he said, as quoted by mStar.
Even Nurul Izzah’s Pakatan Harapan compatriot, Kota Kinabalu MP Jimmy Wong of the DAP, expressed his concern over the photos, saying Nurul Izzah needs to provide context for the images being widely shared online.
“I know some things are unavoidable, but there is no need to upload those photos to social media networks,” he added.