Pakatan Harapan and PKR have become the least preferred choice for Malay voters, particularly fence-sitters who opted to vote for BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN) over the opposition in the recently concluded Johor election, said Rafizi Ramli.
This is as the voters found that the opposition could no longer bring them value, he added.
“We have done a lot of data work and survey. The Johor election highlighted an alarming phenomenon where Malay support, especially from the fence-sitters for Harapan dropped about 10 percent.
“We ran a few simulations with about 40,000 Malay voters, our finding was that they generally prefer to vote for BN in the absence of everything else and when given a chance.
Rafizi said such voters feel that there is not much difference between the political parties as they are more or less the same.
“So, if they were to choose, they would rather choose someone they can trust. If we were to change from one product to another, we want to be sure the substitute of the product can bring better value to you.
“In that sense, it is very worrying because the general Malay voters basically felt that PKR and Harapan no longer bring value to them,” he lamented, raising concerns of a scenario where the country’s politics will be monopolised by both the Malay-based and non-multiracial parties.
Under such circumstances, Rafizi said PKR needs to go back to issue-driven politics where it once attracted its supporters with its reformasi agenda in order to win the heart of the voters.
“What happened after 2018 (general election) was that too much preoccupation was given, either at the PKR or Harapan level, on being in Putrajaya, even after the Sheraton Move,” he said.
Rafizi added that he had advised against voices trying to get back Putrajaya immediately.
“I think we have to go back to what has endeared us to the public. We have to be more issue-driven and focus on reform in the long run, we have to be able to speak their language. Getting to power is to a certain extent a bonus.
“(The questions of) who is going to be the prime minister or the finance minister, which party is stronger, the public doesn’t actually care.
“They hold politicians to a higher standard, it is not enough to just criticise and say we are better than BN and PN,” he said.
What the public wants to know, he said, is what Harapan can do differently as compared to its 22-month tenure in the administration.
Rafizi called on the opposition to move away from personality-based politics.
“This whole idea that you bring someone to the top that he becomes a messiah, we have seen this for decades and that is the reason we are in trouble now.
“We did that in the 2018 general election. People thought putting Dr Mahathir Mohamad there would make everything well, it doesn’t work like that,” he said, adding that personality politics is not good for society in the long run.
Rafizi also says has no intention of running for PKR’s top spot in the upcoming party election in order not to cause “havoc” and divert attention from public issues raised by the party.
“If you rock the boat so much, whatever positive message and positive contribution that you can bring along will be basically diluted by the fact that so much focus will be about the election and personality clash,” he said.
Rafizi had announced his return to active politics to boost the chances of PKR and Pakatan Harapan in the next general election. He is also eyeing to contest the party’s deputy president post.
Responding to a question on whether a leadership change would see PKR have an easier time rallying support, Rafizi said whoever holds the party presidency is not an essential factor, as a political party’s success is based on cohesion from the top to bottom.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who won the presidency uncontested in August 2018, has yet to announce if he will seek to defend his post.
Nominations for PKR’s party election are expected to be held next month, while the election itself will take place in May.