KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 ― PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said predecessor Rafizi Ramli need not be afraid to express his opinions to the party like before as the latter’s former rival, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, was no longer around to discredit these.
Saifuddin said Rafizi, whom he will contest against for the PKR deputy presidency, should feel free to propose ideas and topics directly to the party.
Rafizi is on a tour with Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, on their “Ayuh Malaysia” campaign to convince fencesitters to vote for PKR.
During the campaign, Rafizi opened up about the struggles and poor performances of Opposition parties at Johor, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak elections.
In an interview with Malay Mail, Saifuddin acknowledged the tour as a commendable effort from the two younger politicians, but lamented that it was done without the party’s direct involvement.
Saifuddin also suggested PKR would have embraced the idea had it come through the proper channels.
“Rafizi said this idea came from him originally and I respect that. It has a clear target and can bring a lot of good for the party.
“Only thing I’d like to say is that if you (Rafizi) had proposed this idea to the party they would have loved it too. The issue here was that in those days, in the past, if Azmin was here he would smash that idea down. Azmin would always shoot down any of Rafizi’s ideas in the past,” Saifuddin recalled.
“Azmin would go ‘Whose idea is this? Rafizi? Out, out, out!’” Saifuddin said.
Saifuddin said both he and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have made the party more open to internal feedback, which would have made it easy for Rafizi to put forth his proposal for the tour.
“Maybe he isn’t privy to these things as he was out for so long, hence I’m saying I will never cut him down like Azmin and I am also not upset at what he has said about me,” he added.
Alongside several other key PKR leaders, Azmin quit the party during the so-called “Sheraton Move” of 2020 that brought down the Pakatan Harapan government then.
Azmin and his band defected to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, plunging the party into a leadership crisis that pundits saw as a consequence of a power tussle between Azmin and Anwar.
Underpinning the friction, according to political observers, was Anwar’s growing uneasiness with Azmin’s rising influence in the federal government after he was made the economic affairs minister, which allowed him to amplify his popularity within the party at the time.
During the “Ayuh Malaysia” tour, Rafizi was reported saying he had stepped aside to make way for Saifuddin to be party secretary-general after the latter was left without a post following a defeat at the 2013 general election at the Kulim-Bandar Baharu seat in Kedah.
Now, Saifuddin appeared to try and return the favour, offering Rafizi his rightful place among the party leadership.
“Technically, Rafizi is a party vice president and can join the political bureau as he has announced his return from break and is officially back in the fray.
“I feel he felt helpless in the past and he asked himself why should he go through the party chain again when it was so difficult before hence he acted this way.
“Nevertheless I have no issues with what he is doing and am not angry with whatever it is he has said about me,” he added.
PKR will hold its election of office bearers for the 2022-2025 session from April 22 to 29, while the National Congress will be held from June 10 to 12.