In triumph, Rafizi exposes his flaws

Anwar has long become an icon in PKR, and also in the opposition coalition of PH. Removing icons takes time; it cannot be done expeditiously.

Terence Netto, Free Malaysia Today

After winning with ease the post of deputy president of PKR, one would have thought Rafizi Ramli would opt for magnanimity and reconciliation.

He neglected these grace notes on the second day of the party’s national congress.

He chastised party leader Anwar Ibrahim for ignoring evident signs of his declining popularity.

Further, he chided Anwar supporters in PKR for shielding their icon from the consequences of Anwar’s slumping popularity on the party’s electoral prospects.

The occasion of the PKR congress and the timing of Rafizi’s strictures, with a general election looming, make the deputy president’s brickbats injudicious.

It was not that the facts about Anwar’s growing unpopularity and its implications for PKR’s performance in GE15 are matters that should be elided.

Given that PKR would be facing a general election pretty soon and would be hard put to retain the 48 parliamentary seats it won in the 2018 polls, it would be better judgment to rally the party rather than divide it with an attack on the supremo.

More so, when Rafizi is trying to persuade PKR away from the “big tent” approach of uniting all opposition parties to fight Umno.

Rafizi is against this approach for good reason: it will require PKR to collaborate with parties like Bersatu that turned traitorous in the Sheraton Move of February 2020, ending Pakatan Harapan’s 22-month tenure at the helm of the federal government.

The “big tent” approach is a major put-off to many PH supporters.

DAP is sensitive to their supporters’ loathing of Bersatu’s treachery. It has come out flatly against any cooperation with these quislings at GE15.

Amanah is not as opposed but are expected to back DAP if push comes to shove on this matter within the PH fraternity.

But there are strong supporters of the “big tent” approach in PKR, such as defeated deputy president candidate Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

They are pushing for some kind of electoral understanding among the broad range of opposition parties in order to put up a united electoral front against Umno-BN.

Both DAP and Amanah are backing Anwar as their prime minister-designate.

It’s not that they have no reservations about his leadership; it’s just the timing is not propitious to opt for a top leader-change in the immediate prelude to the elections.

Anwar has long become an icon in PKR, and also in the opposition coalition of PH. Removing icons takes time; it cannot be done expeditiously.

Anwar has taken more than two decades to reach this status, a process abetted by spells in incarceration that have added cubits to his stature.

Such icons are eased off centre-stage by a combination of repeated failures and the boredom this induces among enthusiasts. Anwar is getting to that stage.

Rafizi should not be hasty in shooing Anwar offstage. His character flaw, his narcissism, is flaring. He should learn to cool it.

His hubris precipitated the schism in PKR that led in February 2020 to the abandonment of the party by a coterie of MPs who walked out with then deputy president Azmin Ali and Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The schismatics drove the Sheraton Move. Rafizi should take heed of lessons of the past.