PKR polls: Rafizi secures deputy president’s post

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Rafizi Ramli will become PKR’s next deputy president after outperforming his challenger in the party election.

The incumbent appointed vice-president secured support from a majority of divisions in most states as opposed to his opponent Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, a former Cabinet minister.

Saifuddin’s performance was rather dismal in most states and the party veteran only managed to secure three of the 26 divisions in Johor, one of the 14 divisions in Pahang, four of the 14 divisions in Kelantan, three of the 24 divisions in Perak and nine of the 22 divisions in Selangor.

The party secretary-general also won only three of the 15 divisions in Kedah, seven of Penang’s 13 divisions, only one out of the Federal Territories’ 13 divisions, one of the eight divisions in Negri Sembilan, one of Perlis’ three divisions, one of Terengganu’s eight divisions and none of Melaka’s six divisions.

Saifuddin fared a little better in Sabah by winning in six divisions, which had a large turnout that enabled him to overtake Rafizi in terms of votes. Rafizi obtained only 6,814 votes despite winning the other 17 divisions against Saifuddin’s 8,539 votes.

Similarly, in Perlis, although he won in only one division, Saifuddin garnered 760 votes to Rafizi’s 593 from the other two divisions in the state.

Last evening, Saifuddin conceded defeat and congratulated his competitor in a Facebook post.

In this race for the party’s coveted number two position, Saifuddin was seen as party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s man with some party loyalists strongly believing Saifuddin will bring stability to the troubled party by not going against the top leader.

While Rafizi is perceived as a rabble-rouser who would shake up the party and even lock horns with Anwar over party policies and decisions, others view him as a catalyst for change which the party needs in preparation for the upcoming general election.

Azhar Mahfof/The Star

What is also surprising is Rafizi’s win in the Permatang Pauh division, which is synonymous with Anwar’s family – with his daughter Nurul Izzah being the constituency’s incumbent MP.

He also won in the Port Dickson division where Anwar is the current MP.

Merdeka Center co-founder and programme director Ibrahim Suffian said this may be due to the perception that Nurul Izzah is part of Rafizi’s team.

“Nurul has been seen at some of Rafizi’s events and party members must have assumed that she is endorsing him as part of the new leadership team,” he added. – The Star

According to Ibrahim, he was surprised at how poorly Saifuddin had fared but reckoned it was because party members wanted change and something new, given PKR’s slump with its poor showing in the recent three state elections after its ouster from federal power in 2020.

“They want something fresh as a way out for the party and Rafizi, who has been campaigning very hard, has given the voters the impression that he can deliver what they want,” said Ibrahim.

PKR veterans’ group Otai Reformis secretary Abdul Razak Ismail said Rafizi’s win indicated that the party grassroots wanted someone vocal to advise Anwar on certain matters.

“The narrative appears that many are also with Rafizi on being against the move to bring in Opposition-friendly parties such as Pejuang within the Pakatan Harapan circle,” he added.