SHAH ALAM, March 18 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli told the party’s special congress today that the party must channel all its energy towards serving the most economically vulnerable, saying good governance and a just leadership remains the best bet to trump political rivals as the party faces a crucial state election by mid-year.
Unlike past congresses where bashing the ruling party and fault-finding was the norm, the party deputy president delivered a focused speech about policies that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s government had rolled out four months into power, a markedly sharp pivot in tone likely as a way to signal PKR’s calibre as a ruling party.
He said these policies are consistent with PKR’s push for socio-economic fairness, and that itself should be good enough to win voters.
“We really shouldn’t dance to their tune,” he told delegates here.
To Rafizi — also the minister of economy — the fact that PKR is now spearheading the ruling coalition was the result of a decade's worth of work laid out by the party and its Pakatan Harapan (PH) allies.
According to the Pandan MP, voters have become more critical and are far more informed because of the sort of political culture that PH had nurtured as the opposition then, which means they're not likely to fall for the nativist narrative that he accused Perikatan Nasional (PN) of peddling.
He said this included the idea of good governance and zero tolerance for corruption, which to PKR is the hallmark of the Anwar government.
"They have forgotten that all these [political] ideas and concepts were espoused by us to the people for over a decade, and it is these ideas that shifted the way people think bit by bit to the point that they have put us in power," Rafizi said.
"That's why I'm not that worried if [PN] continue to be in that 'mode', because as days go by and from days to months, when the government's programmes, initiative and outreach begin to yield fruits, the people will be able to differentiate between an opposition that only knows how to sow doubt and a government that bit by bit fixes the poles, their floors and roofs.
"God willing, when we can we would even fix their fans or install air-conditioners in their homes," the PKR deputy president added.
Anwar’s coalition government has been the subject of escalating attacks by leaders from the PN bloc, which continues to harp on racial and religiously-tinged allegations that the PH-led government promotes liberalism and wants to undermine Muslim rule.
Pundits have rated PN’s chances for the upcoming state elections highly, after a strong showing at the 15th general election last year when they garnered the second largest share of seats as a single bloc.
These attacks have put the prime minister in a defensive spot, a sign that he may be concerned about them.
Today, the PKR president said the party has never compromised on its idealism and struggle for social equitability, which it has used to guide many of the “unity government” policies four months since taking office.