KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was the reluctant politican who was thrown into the spotlight, following the detention of her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on corruption and sodomy charges.
Wan Azizah, 55, a mother of five girls and a boy, gave up her government job as an opthalmologist to be on Anwar's side when he was appointed deputy prime minister in 1993.
When Anwar was dismissed from Umno and detained for corruption and sodomy charges in 1998, she led the Social Justice Movement (ADIL), a civil rights non- governmental organisation (NGO) fighting for the release of her husband with assistance from her family, close friends and supporters.
From an NGO, Adil became the platform for the setting up of Parti Keadilan Nasional (Keadilan) on April 4, 1999, a political party, initially fighting for Anwar's freedom.
Wan Azizah was appointed its pro-tem president and later elected as its party president.
A few months later, the novice politican contested her first general election to defend her husband's parliamentary seat, Permatang Pauh, against Datuk Ibrahim Saad, who was then Permatang Pauh Umno division chief and deputy minister of transport.
She won the seat with a majority of 9,077 votes.
In the 2004 and 2008 general elections, she maintained the parliamentary seat against former National Mosque imam Datuk Pirdaus Ismail of Barisan Nasional.
In the March 8 election, Wan Azizah won by a majority of 13,388 votes against the Umno Youth executive councillor. She garnered 30,338 votes against Datuk Pirdaus' 16,950 votes.
In August 2003, Keadilan merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and she was elected the new president, a post which she held until Thursday.
With the party's big win in the 2008 general election, Wan Azizah was elected by the opposition parties as their leader in the Dewan Rakyat.
On Thursday, after holding on to the Permatang Pauh seat for three terms, she is letting it go to allow her husband to contest in the upcoming by-election to be held soon.