Saying Pakatan at risk of slipping back to ‘square one’, Rafizi offers to run for federal seat in GE15

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Former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli who announced his political comeback from a three-year hiatus is keen to run for a parliamentary seat again in the next general election.

The former PKR secretary-general whose star was once rising previously announced his plan to run for the party deputy presidency in its upcoming internal election, but told Malaysiakini that the party post is “secondary”.

He said that his focus now is representing the party and the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in a bigger way and keeping them relevant with Malaysians, rather than regaining popularity within PKR.

“It is quite obvious that if you were to appeal to the fence-sitters again, I have to run for Parliament again.

Yusof Mat Isa

“In that sense, whether I win the deputy presidency or not is almost secondary, to be frank, because the focus is a lot bigger than that,” he told the news portal in an interview published today.

Now 44 years old, Rafizi said his focus has always been for the party’s progress rather than his own personal political development.

“I have been able to give my opinions even if I didn’t have any senior party positions anyway.

“But I understand as well that the public expects a bit more activism in Parliament from certain MPs.

“So, definitely, if I am given a chance, I will run for MP again. So, on that basis, regardless of the outcome of the party election, things are very different than 2018,” he told Malaysiakini.

Rafizi did not contest in the 14th general election as he had been convicted in early 2018 of leaking confidential banking details on the National Feedlot Corporation back in March 2012, and sentenced to 30 months in jail, which automatically disqualified him from running for any public office.

The conviction and sentence were lifted only in November 2019 by the Court of Appeal, which enables him to contest in elections again.

In the interview, Rafizi said he was not an MP back in 2018 and that the PKR leadership then decided he should not be seen in the PH presidential council or involved in any of its decision-making for fear of upsetting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was seen to hold much political clout.

According to Rafizi, the PH leadership felt his views may rock the partnership with the former prime minister, whom they wanted to accommodate back then.

“So, in that sense, I was clipped. I didn’t have much room to manoeuvre politically. Anything I did beyond that would have me being seen as a troublemaker.

“I fully respected the need at the time to find a balance between stability and dissenting voices. Things would most probably be different this time around because Harapan and PKR are a lot weaker. We don’t actually know how many MPs we will have in the next Parliament.

“So, if my brand or activism in Parliament is required, that is something that I hope we can focus on as well, beyond just the context of the deputy presidency for the party,” he was quoted saying.

Harapan is another popular abbreviation to refer to the PH coalition.

Rafizi said that he will leave it to the party to decide which parliamentary constituency to field him in should they decide to enter him in GE15.

He also said he did not plan for a political comeback but changed his mind after the March 12 Johor vote outcome, which saw PH and his party lose in the hotly contested state election.

Rafizi told Malaysiakini that the results showed PKR and PH sliding further in the current multi-party system, behind the Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional coalition. He noted that PH won only some 10 percent of votes from fence-sitters.

“Anywhere in the world, the third party usually does not survive.

“If Harapan becomes the third force, everything the opposition had worked for in the last two to three decades will go back to square one,” Rafizi was quoted saying. – MMO