Recently, PKR had its election and convention, and Rafizi Ramli’s former Pandan MP team won by a wide margin. His victory also demonstrates that PKR supporters are hoping for a fresh start in the upcoming general election.
Rafizi Ramli’s victory in the recent PKR elections for vice president would catalyse the reformist party’s eventual revitalization in readiness for the 15th general election.
It was noted that Rafizi-aligned figures were now in control of both the supreme council members (MPP) and the Youth wing, but it remained to be known where their true allegiances rested.
In addition, Dr Maszlee Malik, a former education minister for Pakatan Harapan who just joined PKR, received the most votes to be chosen as a supreme council member.
Even though the election is completed and the house is ready to make chisel sounds, the Registrar of Societies (RoS) has given PKR a notice asking it to clarify the results of its just concluded election. For the record, following over 1,800 allegations of voting fraud during the party elections in May, PKR postponed its national congress from June to July to conduct a forensic analysis of the election.
The PKR annual convention came to an end after weeks of drama surrounding its internal elections, and all eyes were on the new leadership team of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Rafizi Ramli as his assistant.
Rafizi’s comeback, in our opinion, will undoubtedly encourage favourable public support for PKR because he provides a more contemporary image for the group. Support from morally upright Malay and non-Malay populations will be favourable to his return to the party’s central leadership.
They would be a formidable team if Anwar could put aside his guardedness toward rivals and genuinely collaborate with Rafizi, who is renowned for his methodical electioneering techniques, but WR doubts Anwar will put his ego aside and put the party ahead of his ambition to become the next Prime Minister.
Given that Anwar won the presidency without opposition, he should use all of his wisdom to see the battle for the deputy presidency as a representation of the grassroots’ attitudes in a situation where it doesn’t seem that the party would be returned to Putrajaya in the GE15.
The following three lessons from the PKR congress are presented following the yearly convention.
The return of the prodigal son
On the surface, PKR was all smiles as Rafizi was formally introduced as the new vice president on the final day of the congress, but there was a sense of anxiety — maybe fear — from some parts of the party, particularly those seen to be in Anwar’s camp.
This was evident in both parties’ attempts to look cordial; Anwar hailed Rafizi’s statements as a respite to his headaches, while Rafizi pledged not to backstab Anwar like previous deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
Even before the congress, the conceptual differences between the two were clear when Rafizi spoke out against Anwar’s “big tent” strategy of uniting the opposition.
But we feel it is fine to be radical but opposing the president may jeopardise the party’s success. To succeed, Rafizi must find a moderate way to maintain the party’s smooth sailing.
PKR remains the foundation of Pakatan Harapan.
Although PKR’s popularity has suffered since 2020, the party remains Pakatan Harapan’s greatest option for taking on UMNO in seats favoured by the Malay nationalist party.
With DAP focussing on urban mixed seats, AMANAH still unable to compete with PAS, and UPKO’s appeal restricted to Sabah, PKR will need to toughen up even more, especially since BERSATU and PEJUANG will enter the fray.
Both Anwar and Rafizi have also stated that the party should give answers to people’s concerns rather than simply riding the momentum of national issues, as it did in 2018, to cater to the majority of B40s and M40s who are experiencing inflation and rising food prices.
In the future, this might imply that PKR would have more programmes in rural regions to compensate for its deficiencies in such places.
The PKR must look beyond Anwar.
During the congress, one key topic of contention was Anwar’s popularity against the party’s appeal.
Rafizi emphasised that the party’s capacity to win the next general election should take precedence over the president’s popularity.
This is difficult to achieve, especially from Anwar’s side, but identifying PKR with Anwar must be explicitly stated; Anwar is not PKR, and PKR is not solely about Anwar.
The bottom line is that both are required to bring about change. WR suggests that Anwar focuses on the international level, where he is well known for his good oratory skills, and Rafizi plays a domestic role, particularly in convincing the youth and rulers to be more open to accepting new political styles.
Nothing could stop them from winning the next election if they could achieve this.
DISCLAIMER: Air Times News Network is not responsible for opinions expressed through this article. It’s the columnist’s personal view and doesn’t necessarily reflect our stance.