Regardless of what happens to Rafizi, Nurul Izzah or Anwar, what is important is the Subsidy Rationalisation Plan succeeds

If Anwar were to step down, there are only two potential successors in PKR: Rafizi, the second in command, and Nurul Izzah, Anwar’s daughter.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy

There are many ways to interpret why Rafizi was dropped as the PKR chief for Johor and the Federal Territories. The angle that interests me, however, is how this change will affect the subsidy rationalisation plan, which is likely to commence soon.

Around the same time that Rafizi was dropped as the PKR chief for Johor and the Federal Territories, we also observed that the Madani government has unveiled the RM 200 diesel subsidy program, likely to be the first subsidy scheme deployed under the rationalisation plan.

Additionally, there is speculation that Nurul Izzah, Anwar’s daughter, might be making a political comeback through the Sg Bakap by-election in the near future.

If you put all of these matters together, it might appear that the targeted subsidy scheme might be linked to Anwar’s political future, and Anwar’s political future is in turn intertwined with that of Nurul Izzah’s and Rafizi.

Anwar will be 77 years of age in 2024. Even if he lasts for a full term, he will be around 80 years of age by the time the next general election arrives. At 80, even if his spirit is strong, his mind and body, as well as public opinion, is unlikely to be supportive of his desire to rule.

If Anwar were to step down, there are only two potential successors in PKR: Rafizi, the second in command, and Nurul Izzah, Anwar’s daughter.

Currently, Rafizi likely has a stronger claim to the leadership, given that Nurul Izzah has not held a prominent position in the party or government since her loss in the 2022 general election.

Rafizi holds an important portfolio as the Minister of Economy. Although his performance has been less than stellar, successful implementation of the subsidy rationalisation plan, which he spearheads, could change this perception.

Now, there are some people that are promoting the view that there is a chance that Anwar is anticipating the subsidy rationalisation plan to be a failure, and thus he is perhaps planning to sideline Rafizi from PKR by using the anticipated failure as an excuse, to clear the path for his daughter to inherit his place when he steps down. It might be for this reason that he is relieving Rafizi first from the post of Johor and Federal Territories chief, in order to stagger the sidelining of Rafizi from PKR in the future.

Personally, I find this view hard to swallow because I truly believe that if the targeted subsidy program fails, it’s not just Rafizi alone that is going to drown – all of PKR, PH and the Madani government will sink with him as well.

It is hard to imagine that Anwar sent Rafizi to head the subsidy rationalisation scheme for the same reason that Zahid Hamidi sent Khairy to the Sungai Buloh seat in the last general election. Zahid Hamidi might have sent Khairy to Sungai Buloh with the intention to sideline Khairy in Umno, but Anwar couldn’t have done the same to Rafizi with the subsidy rationalisation plan, because Anwar’s own legacy and survival depends on the success of the subsidy rationalisation plan.

The subsidy rationalisation plan, if successful, could be a gamechanger for our economy. Our economy, for many decades now, has been one that is tilted in favour of elites against the population, and the subsidy rationalisation scheme might just change that.

Rather than direct the wealth of the nations to corporations and tycoons to take the national economy forward, the subsidy rationalisation scheme might empower the people and the workers to take the economy to the next level.

As long as we depend on corporations and tycoons to take the national economy forward, we might never be able to break the chain of exploitative practices which keeps us forever trapped in the middle-income status. To become developed economy, our economy will need to discard its penchant of relying on exploited labour to generate wealth, and invest on building up the self-esteem and confidence of the population, so that a revitalised and self-assured population will be empowered to transform the economy into one that is able to generate wealth via value generation.

If the Madani administration succeeds in implementing the subsidy rationalisation plan and takes the first step to transform the economy, it would finally have what it desperately needs, which is a legacy.

One of the biggest problems with Anwar and the PH government is that it has no legacy. Unlike BN which secured the independence of the nation and made its mark in the fabric of our existence through its many decades in power, Anwar and PH have yet to prove themselves worthy to the nation.

As long as Anwar and PH don’t prove themselves worthy, the people will not in spirit, respect its authority and prestige, even if officially and legally, they have to abide by its rule.

Anwar desperately needs the subsidy rationalisation plan to succeed so that he will not only secure his position as a leader in legal terms, but also in spiritual terms, and for this purpose, he needs Rafizi to succeed in implementing the subsidy rationalisation plan.

The problem however is that if Rafizi succeeds, Anwar will have the same problem that the Sultan of Malacca had with Hang Tuah, in that Rafizi might become more esteemed and popular with the people than Anwar.

Considering that there is a widespread belief that Anwar is unlikely to relinquish his reign to anyone outside of his family, and considering that if Rafizi succeeds in deploying the subsidy rationalisation plan, he will most likely use his elevated popularity and esteem to seize the top position, it does make sense for Anwar to strip Rafizi of his position as the Johor and Federal Territories chief.

By stripping of Rafizi’s position in the states, even if Rafizi succeeds with the subsidy plan and becomes popular and respected, he will still not have a base in the states to serve as his fortress to topple Anwar.

And perchance if Rafizi fails to deploy the subsidy plan successfully, then Anwar can also use his failure as an excuse and opportunity to step in to “save” the subsidy rationalisation plan, and win the people’s affection as the one that truly made the subsidy plan a success. If this were to occur, Rafizi would not be able to prevent Anwar from stepping in taking the glory that he has worked for the last year and half, because he will not have any states or territories that he can bank on to support his resistance.

Either way, I feel that everything that is going on up to now is going well, in that it looks like that everybody that matters, from Anwar to Rafizi, are likely focusing on seeing the success of the subsidy rationalisation plan, even if they are not doing it in cooperation with each other, and might likely be doing it against the interest of one another.