‘Big tent’ issue divides Anwar and Rafizi, says analyst

If opposition parties are to have a shot at regaining power at the next general election, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and his incoming deputy Rafizi Ramli must see eye-to-eye on the “big tent” approach, says an analyst.

(FMT) – “The ‘big tent’ strategy will be the big stumbling block for Anwar and Rafizi working together. Both must come to their senses and cooperate with one another,” said Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara.

The “big tent” term is used to describe Anwar’s preference for uniting all opposition parties against Barisan Nasional. Rafizi said in April that he was against the idea. He said the Sheraton Move of March 2020 showed that the coalition could be betrayed by a component member, just like Bersatu did.

Azmi said Rafizi could not afford to be “idealistic” in trying to garner the support of other opposition parties as “PKR needs all the help it can get”.

“PKR is synonymous with Pakatan Harapan, and PH is synonymous with the opposition as a whole. Without PKR, the opposition is nothing,” he said.

Azmi added that if PKR’s top two can resolve their differences, then any other issues that arise can be solved easily.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs was less hopeful about the prospect of the two leaders working amicably together.

He said Rafizi would have to “watch out for Anwar’s potential scheming” to eliminate anybody who could challenge his position as party president.

“Rafizi, on the other hand, is too brash in pointing out shortcomings without much reverence, which might rub the ultra-sensitive Anwar the wrong way,” he told FMT.

However, Oh did not think any infighting between the two would split support within the party as Rafizi would back down. “Rafizi has shown that he is more than willing to take a back seat or exit into corporate life should things not go his way,” he said.

Another PKR leader, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who has won election as one of PKR’s four vice-presidents, said that the party elections have shown that PKR’s members were against the “big tent” strategy and were against “easy political alliances” with those who “repeatedly rejected reform, social justice and multiracialism”.