What does Rafizi, young leaders’ election success mean for Anwar and PKR?

Rafizi Ramli speaks to the audience during the Ayuh Malaysia campaign in Kuala Lumpur March 26, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Rafizi Ramli speaks to the audience during the Ayuh Malaysia campaign in Kuala Lumpur March 26, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

By Zainal Epi

Monday, 30 May 2022 10:20 AM MYT

COMMENTARY, May 30 — Rafizi Ramli and his team have managed a changing of the guard at PKR, and will open a new chapter for it and party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Rafizi won with a handsome majority of over 17,000 votes against Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in the just concluded party election.

Rafizi’s victory does not fulfil the party’s objective to make Anwar the prime minister but is more towards making the party appeal to young voters looking for multi-racial, young and vibrant party that matches their idealism.

Rafizi won the deputy president’s post in a landslide victory, and was joined by Adam Adli Abdul Halim who won the Youth chief’s post and Juwairiya Zulkifli who became the head of the Wanita wing.

The victory is seen as the party’s renewal following its failure to make any impact in the three state elections of Sabah, Melaka and Johor.

These elections saw PKR has been side-lined by voters, which was interpreted as Anwar losing his appeal or the party losing its relevance.

While the list of new vice-presidents has yet to be confirmed, Rafizi’s young team seems to already have positioned themselves to face the coming general election with a new image and narrative.

Known to disagree with the “big tent” idea for all Opposition parties come under one umbrella like Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 2018 general election, Rafizi is probably to be looking on a wider scale of having the party going on its own.

Rafizi came back into the political scenario after “missing for some two years” and suddenly returned with guns blazing, waking up the young leaders in the party to go on an onslaught against the old guard who stood up for Anwar at the start of the Reformasi movement.

Rafizi’s and the young leaders’ emergence have given the party a new lease of life as well as new hope for Anwar to make the last push for the prime minister’s post.

PKR has morphed from the Reformasi movement that began in 1998 to free Anwar when he was charged and jailed for abuse of power.

The initial aim of fighting for reform and freeing Anwar from alleged “political persecution” has changed to pushing for him to become prime minister, which saw the party taking on the powerful Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN).

Partnering long-time Opposition multi-racial but Chinese-majority party DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), the party did not have much luck in coming near to Putrajaya until 2018 when it became a part of PH, a big tent concept led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had set up Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

A “big tent” concept with all Opposition parties swept into power and took over Putrajaya in what was described as a people’s tsunami.

Anwar was promised the prime minister’s post after two year when Dr Mahathir stepped down but “he was played out or rather push aside when the time came” as Dr Mahathir was reluctant to give in to his promise.

Then came the Sheraton Move led by Dr Mahathir’s party, which took over Putrajaya.

Now the question is whether the voters will accept the new changes and with Rafizi and Anwar standing on a new footing to fight its political battle?

While time will tell the end result, as of now Anwar is now considered as just a leader under “siege” by young leaders who possess new ideas and probably still aim to put him up as prime minister.


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