KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers say a raft of problems contributed to the coalition’s poor public approval ratings.
DAP’s Steven Sim said it would be naive for PH leaders not to admit and deal with these problems ahead of a possible snap poll being called by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
A recent survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center found that positive reception for the PH coalition to be at only 25 per cent while over half or 51 per cent of Malaysians approved of the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN).
“One of the problems PH needs to fix is the lack of co-ordination as a coalition. The public still sees PH as a non-cohesive coalition.
“Top leadership must function not only during presidential council meetings, but lead the coalition and set the agenda for daily, weekly and monthly programmes.
“People want to see leaders taking charge and give clear direction,” he told Malay Mail.
The third term Bukit Mertajam MP and former deputy minister of youth and sports added that PH leadership needed to present a viable alternative to PN. To do this, publicity and communications have to be improved substantially.
“Communications is still lacking. While we need to talk on social media, we also need to be on the ground to engage with people in cities, towns and villages.
“The movement control order (MCO) was a challenge, but PH’s problem with communications is not new.
“We may have the right values and done many things right, but if we fail to communicate them (to the ground), then it’s almost equal to zero,” he added.
Another area which Sim said PH has to address is the need to listen to younger voices who are demanding for more drastic reforms.
“Young leaders are stepping up to call for more drastic reforms in terms of economic agenda and social cohesion.
“I think we need to acknowledge such movements within PH or more importantly within the larger society with youths coming out to call for radical renewal,” he said.
While he noted that PH is going through a “soul-searching” phase at the moment, he believes the coalition can make a comeback.
“I strongly believe we can bounce back because we have a good foundation. For example, in Sabah, the public recognises the contribution of our former ministers who provided aid to schools and helped the farmers, among other things,” he added.
Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) communications director Khalid Abdul Samad agrees with Sim and said the low approval ratings is an indication that PH needs to work harder to improve.
He said leaders need to get their act together and get the house in order.
“There is a lot of internal fighting portrayed by party members and leaders themselves, so we need to regroup and recover the image of a united Opposition as what we achieved in 2018.
“This is the responsibility of the leaders to show that we are not busy fighting or criticising one another.
“We need to prove that we are more united to face the PN government, which itself is in disarray,” Khalid added.
PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said the focus of PH now is to strengthen the core of the coalition by removing the ‘pengkhianat’(traitors) so that they can reorganise the respective parties.
“PKR, at least, has been tasked with engaging with the public on specific issues in related ministries,” he said.
When asked how PH is planning to “repair” its image, Fahmi said the coalition’s image isn’t the only thing that needs repair but there was also a need to remember what the struggle is about.
“We need to work doubly hard to correct our position and to prove we deserve to be given a chance again to be the stewards of Malaysia.
“Most of the parties will have their annual congress or convention at the end of the year, so that will be an opportunity for respective parties to state a new direction in this new normal,” he said.
Commenting on the public perception of infighting within PH, Fahmi dismissed such an idea.
He said the Opposition bloc stood together when opposing certain insensitive or ill-advised actions of the PN government.
“I think there is no issue of infighting. I mean it was very clear on the Opposition stand.
“There were 109 votes by the Opposition bloc voting against the new Dewan Rakyat Speaker candidate (for the first count) and 106 votes against the new Supply [Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure] Bill 2020. So the Opposition is solid,” he said.