Strength in numbers? Clash over PKR’s ability to contest solo

15 May 2022 09:30am
Thumbnail: Dr Kartini Aboo Talib, Prof Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek, Farhash Wafa Salvador, Tian Chua
Thumbnail: Dr Kartini Aboo Talib, Prof Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek, Farhash Wafa Salvador, Tian Chua

SHAH ALAM – As talks go on about whether PKR is strong enough to contest in the upcoming 15th General Election alone without the support of PH, its members and political observers clash on the party’s ability to go solo.

Party members were confident they had the capabilities to do so while experts felt differently.

Former Perak PKR chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal said the party was capable of contesting any elections on its own, considering it was the only party with divisions in all 222 parliamentary constituencies.

However, he added that it is not up to him or any individual to decide whether it would be the best decision for PKR to contest on its own, but it should be a consensus among PKR’s top leadership.

“We are still very much part of PH, and there has not been any suggestion otherwise, nor are there any issues between the four coalition parties.

“We are still united and focused on shared objectives,” he told Sinar Daily.

Farhash said the percentage of winning the seats in Johor could have been made up if it were not because of border restrictions, the public’s fear due to the Covid-19 pandemic, political fatigue among the people, and the election being held at an unreasonable time.

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“The percentage would have been made up if the elections were not held under border restrictions as there were thousands of Malaysian workers in Singapore who could not come home to vote.

“Besides that, there were restrictions on public gatherings and the people were still in fear due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There was also political fatigue among the people caused by the constant power struggles, party-hopping and power grabs that resulted in those unnecessary state elections held at unnecessary times,” he said.

This, he said, would significantly be countered by the impending approval of the Anti-Party Hopping Law, which would reduce such ploys in the future.

However, he said it is not his or anyone’s place to decide whether that could be a legit reason for PKR to contest without PH.

“The results were not in our favour due to many factors, not all within our control,” he added.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua shared the same view with Farhash – that PKR had the potential to contest on its own.

However, he contradicted the statement by saying that although PKR was capable of doing so, the party was still not strong enough to win all seats throughout the nation.

“There are places where we have the advantages and some places where we don’t.

“We definitely need help from other people who have better strength as well as being able to combine the seats together to form a government,” he said when contacted by Sinar Daily.

Commenting further, he said it would be a ‘dream’ for PKR to win the seats in states like Terengganu and Pahang without the help of other coalition parties.

“We may be strong in Selangor, but we are also weak in some other states,” he said,

He further added that in order to win the upcoming general election, PKR needs to observe the strength of other parties to formulate strategies to help each other.

“PKR is a member of PH, and we are committed in working together as one strong team,” he added.

Meanwhile, political analyst Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib said PKR could contest in GE15 solo and might possibly win the voters in urban constituents like Selangor and Penang, but it was not possible without the help of PH.

Hence, PKR and DAP should maintain a good alliance for the upcoming election if they wanted to win the urban voters’ votes, especially among the non-Malays.

Dr Kartini said it would be delusional if the politicians thought that PKR was strong enough to go solo, as the reason for PKR to continue participating as an alternative was to ensure that the democratic system in Malaysia was alive and going.

“The right to liberty and to choose is preserved in Malaysia. Meanwhile, the right of the alternative to scrutinise the system is maintained,” she said.

Political, Security and International Relations Cluster of the National Professor Council secretary Professor Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek said he agreed with Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar’s prior statement that it would take two or three general elections before PKR could survive on its own.

“It is self-explanatory that PKR needs a lot of restructuring to survive,” he told Sinar Daily.

Commenting further, he said that based on PKR’s performance during the Johor state election, the party would not be able to survive by standing on its own as it was not appealing enough to the members of the public.

“PKR’s leadership is losing its appeal to the general public and even amongst its own party members,” he added.

Earlier, PKR Selangor state leadership council chairman Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari had cautioned the party not to contest in GE15 without the support of other parties as it does not have the strength to go solo at this point.

He said this was based on two field studies conducted during the Melaka and Johor State elections.

PKR's move to use its own logo during the past state elections, namely Sarawak and Johor, warranted mixed reactions, with many arguing that it reflected internal conflicts within the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

In the Johor state election in March, PKR contested 20 seats, but they only secured one seat in Bukit Batu represented by Arthur Chiong Sen Sern.

In the Sarawak state election in December, PKR fielded 28 candidates and failed to win a single seat out of the 82 up for grabs. The party had won three in the 2016 Sarawak polls.

For the record, in the Melaka state election on November last year, the party fielded 11 candidates at Lendu, Machap Jaya, Rembia, Kelebang, Paya Rumput, Sungai Udang, Asahan, Ayer Molek, Sungai Rambai, Rim and Tanjung Bidara but failed to win a single seat

In the last general election held in 2018, PKR had contested 12 seats, and managed secure five seats – Bukit Naning, Pemanis, Semerah, Bukit Batu and Tiram.

Candidate for PKR’s deputy presidency, Rafizi Ramli had said the party and its allies in PH would need to convince the 5 to 10 per cent of fence-sitters who voted for Perikatan Nasional (PN) during the last four state elections to gain the upper hand at the next general election.

They would also need to convince the 5 to 10 per cent of so-called jaded voters who sat out the state elections to head to the polling station and cast their ballot.

This was why the "Ayuh Malaysia" movement was launched, to draw the support of fence-sitters in preparation for the GE15.

The movement, founded by Rafizi and Nurul Izzah also encouraged more volunteers who were eager for change to come forward and play their roles in the election.