How Rafizi’s move to checkmate his rivals breaks into pieces

(Malaysia Now) – PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli set a record by becoming the first Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate in the 15th general election (GE) to declare his assets publicly.

After declaring his assets, Rafizi went on to challenge the other two major coalitions, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), to do the same for all of their candidates.

But this is a pointless challenge as declaring assets is not compulsory under the law for election candidates.

It is only compulsory under the law for elected MPs and appointed senators upon their appointment as Cabinet ministers.

You can’t say your rival candidates are lousy for not doing something which is not compulsory. It is as simple as that.

And when a reporter who was at a press conference that Rafizi organised on Nov 9 grilled him on certain aspect of his asset declaration, he became feisty and accused the reporter’s employer, MalaysiaNow, of being a mouthpiece of Mohamed Azmin Ali, a Bersatu Supreme Council member, among others.

According to a MalaysiaNow report, Rafizi then repeatedly belittled the reporter, suggesting that he was not well versed in finance.

“That’s why I said go back and try to understand finance, because I just explained it just now about share capital. You don’t get it, do you? I have already answered your third question. Did you get it?” Rafizi said, somewhat peeved at the reporter.

To make matter worse, Rafizi concluded that most people (reporters) present at the press conference would “not understand any of these things”.

In my days as a young reporter in Singapore, I experienced an eerily similar situation when the host (the organiser of the press conference) was totally rude and uncouth towards me because I was the only reporter who had grilled him with tough questions.

Like Rafizi, the host began to belittle me as a reporter who knew nuts about the issue concerned.

My response then was to say that in an earlier article about his organisation on the same issue, which happened to be the page one lead story in the newspaper I was working with, he had called me to say his thanks for the excellent piece!

But unlike Rafizi, this host was totally out of his mind and told me to get out of his office. I straight away walked out from the press conference.

Back at the office, when I debriefed my chief reporter, I was asked to make an incident report.

As a result of the report, the host and his organisation were “blacklisted” by my news organisation – we boycotted publishing any of his statements or accepting invitations to his press conferences for a few months.

When Rafizi declared his assets, initially I thought it was a brilliant strategy to “force” both BN and PN to do the same because at that time, I was unsure about the legal status of asset declarations by election candidates.

I was also aware that making asset declarations for election candidates who contested for the first time and then lost would be an embarrassment for them because their financial records would be known publicly for the rest of their lives when they are just a nobody.

Later, when I realised it was not legally compulsory to publicly declare assets and that Rafizi was not the first to do so as Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) had done so during GE14, I still thought it was a brilliant strategy because it is politically incorrect to reject asset declarations even though they are not compulsory.