Blog post

Malaysian former opposition Rafizi makes a comeback

Rafizi Ramli says he is returning to the political scene to help the Keadilan Rakyat Party and Pakatan Harapan attract more supporters. RAFIZI RAMLI VIA FACEBOOK

A former Malaysian opposition star, Rafizi Ramli, is making a political comeback just days after the opposition lost heavily in Johor state polls.

His remarks on his blog on March 15 appeared to criticize the leadership of his party, the Keadilan Rakyat Party (PKR), and the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH), for the weakness of the opposition parties.

The PKR and the PH presidential council are led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Rafizi, 44, was an influential vice-president of the PKR when he left active politics in 2019.

He said he was returning to the political arena to help both parties attract more supporters for the upcoming general election.

He said he would contest the next internal PKR elections for the post of vice-president, possibly facing a powerful ally of Seri Anwar, the party’s general secretary, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

PKR elections will take place in May, with official nominations expected next month.

Besides the PKR, the other main members of the PH are the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Amanah Negara Party.

“I have been urged by the PKR and Pakatan Harapan supporters in the community to get back into the political ring.

“It took me some time to think about it, because I was not convinced that I could make a difference because my opinions are only shared by the minority of Pakatan Harapan.

“The coalition should accept the Johor election results with an open heart, because we are not here just to win the elections, but to bring idealistic and progressive politics to the people,” he said on his blog.

The next national polls in Malaysia are not expected until the second half of next year, but are widely expected to be held this year.

The strong performance of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) in polls in Melaka State in November and in polls in Johor last week, led to calls for Umno to hold a snap general election soon.

Rafizi said the current political scenario has become so confusing that parties accusing each other of treason are ready to work together just to win the elections.

He said one such strategy was the proposed “big tent” approach for PH and other opposition parties to cooperate so that they could defeat BN.

“Recently I was made to understand that the Presidential Council of Pakatan had agreed to discuss cooperation with Perikatan Nasional [PN] for the 15 [next] general elections,” he said.

The two main parties of the PN are the Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Party (Bersatu) and the Islam SeMalaysia Party (PAS), which PH has accused of bringing about the collapse of the PH government in February 2020.

The Malaysian federal government led by Mahathir Mohamad collapsed in 2020 when Bersatu left PH and joined a dozen MPs who left PKR.

Bersatu and the PKR rebels teamed up with PAS, Umno and other parties to form an uneasy federal alliance, led by Bersatu chairman Muhyiddin Yassin, who became prime minister in March 2020.