KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The core movers and supporters of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PKR are the fence-sitters and the “average Joe” who are not actively vested in politics, former PKR’s leader Rafizi Ramli said.
In a meeting with the Concorde Club, an informal group of senior editors, the former Pandan MP and once a trailblazing figure in Malaysian politics, said that it is crucial for them to “energise” the demographic in order to appeal to them or seek their voluntary manpower.
“I can’t speak for PKR or PH because I am really an outsider. It’s quite obvious, you know. But what we have learned from the last general election is that a lot of the goodwill for PH and PKR are actually not from the party members,” he said.
“Actually it has a lot of support from fence-sitters. You know by nature, fence-sitters are either middle-class or they are slightly more progressive or they are more urban. So they don’t love to be directly involved in politics, but they are very politically aware.
“So I think regardless of what PKR or PH want to do, and it’s really not in my control. What some of us can do is to really appeal directly to these people and because even in the last general election, most of the PKR seats were manned by volunteers. Not necessarily by the party members,” he added.
The PKR vice-president said that for the previous general election, PKR had 44,000 volunteers spread across the country.
He said that these people are the ones who are now disillusioned with the political happenings within PH.
“So as I said, if our objective is to well you know, keep PKR or PH at least as a second floor, we need to energise these people and we don’t need party leaders, PKR or DAP or Parti Amanah Negara to reach out directly to these people,” he added.
Rafizi said this was why he and Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar decided to reach out to the said base, by forming the Ayuh Malaysia campaign to drum up support as said groups are already jaded with the leaders of PH.
Rafizi said support from the people towards the campaign has been promising so far, with over 8,000 volunteers recruited within a week, while it took PH and PKR one-and-a-half years to mobilise 44,000 volunteers previously.
He said that the campaign has also collected over RM200,000 in its crowdfunding effort.
Explaining the need for the crowdfunding initiative, Rafizi said that the move is to “energise and activate the fence sitters, ordinary public, so they feel they have a say.”
“You give RM5 you have a say. You give RM10, you have a say, and we would be able to judge whether there is an undercurrent of energy there. So far, it beats my expectations. I actually thought it would be a lot worse.
“So four months is short you know, but I think we would be able to go into the next general election with higher excitement then what we have had for the last two years, and that has to be done outside the official PH and PKR framework,” he added.
Rafizi said that he has always been realistic about his strengths and capabilities, adding however that the political dynamics here has changed since his sabbatical from the arena.
“If I can deliver certain things that I need to do, and my biggest goal and contribution now is to try to energise the public. It will be a sequence of events. Most likely, the likelihood is that PKR will not win the general election and when that happens, I think PKR has to recalibrate and see where do we want to go from now and Anwar, you know when the time comes, as a party we will have the right sort of discussion about what should be the next three to four years,” he said, referring to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“I don’t think we should really be too preoccupied about certain things that perhaps has not come the time for it yet.
“When the time comes, after the general election when we have to see how the result is and we have to plan for the next five years. It will have to be decided collectively, as in what is the best option for the party and hopefully wisdom prevails. That is as politically correct as I can say,” he added.
On March 15, Rafizi announced that he would be returning to the political scene by contesting for PKR’s number two spot.
He also said that his supporters have urged him to return to the political fold, and has pledged to help PKR and PH bring back supporters.
Rafizi, a close confidante and former adviser to Anwar, formally announced his withdrawal from active politics in 2019.
His Pandan seat was contested by Anwar’s wife and then PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in the 2018 general election.
PKR will be holding an internal election in April to decide the party’s leadership from 2022 to 2025. Its national congress is slated to take place from June 10 to 12.
Nominations for the party polls will be open from March 11 to 19 and PKR will hold online voting for the first time.