KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 14): Pakatan Harapan has vowed to talk about the position of Islam and the Malays as the 14th general election approached, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said.
The Pandan MP said the two issues were close to the hearts of the Malays who did not vote for the opposition in the last general election.
He said the group no longer trusted Umno but at the same time, they were concerned that the position of Islam and the Malays would be jeopardised if they supported the opposition.
“Now we have to face the real psyche issue. We have to explain what worries the Malays, whether they are propaganda issues playing in our heads or not.
“We have to convince them that if Pakatan Harapan wins, the position and welfare of Malays will improve.
“Previously, we had not been direct when we addressed Malay issues. We were so careful in talking about the administration and the economy, but we did not touch on Malay issues.
“We cannot work this way anymore. They want straight answers, so we must give them straight answers,” he said.
Rafizi was speaking at a forum on whether the opposition could win Malay votes in the next general election. The forum was organised by Mahasiswa PKR in Petaling Jaya last night.
Rafizi, who is also PKR vice-president, admitted that Malay Muslim issues were not focused on during the last polls because the opposition coalition formerly known as Pakatan Rakyat was concentrating on bread and butter issues.
However, the strategy was a success because the coalition obtained the votes it had wanted at the time.
“I have the experience from the last polls because I was one of the people who drafted the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto.
“It was our approach then to focus on bread and butter issues because we expected that the issue would deliver enough critical votes from the Malays, who are concerned about issues of income and cost of living.
“They agreed and that was why we won in the cities and received support from young Malay professionals. The issue was important enough to them and when we articulated that and went on the offensive against Barisan Nasional (BN), we won their votes.
“But we just did not get enough to win Putrajaya,” he said.
He said the issue would be explained together by Pakatan Harapan, without the task being delegated among the component parties like what BN would do.
“Being united in addressing this issue through Pakatan Harapan is very important.
“We cannot use the same method like Umno and BN if we are to get rid of their racist games. We cannot just let Amanah deal with Malay Muslim issues, DAP and PKR with Chinese issues,” he said.
DAP's Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming said his party was also facing a dilemma in increasing its Malay and Bumiputera memberships in Sabah and Sarawak.
“We have two dilemmas. Many DAP leaders want the party to increase its Malay members and Bumiputera members from Sabah and Sarawak. I think it is a good intention and strategy to rid the party's chauvinist image.
“But at the same time, there is also rejection among some leaders and party members when it was proposed within the confines of the party to increase the party membership to 50% Malays and Bumiputera,” he said.
He also said DAP faced some objections too from outside the party in its efforts to increase Malay members.
“An example is like how (Parti) Amanah (Negara) Johor recently proposed that DAP should not field a Malay candidate for a state seat in the southern state.
“It is an external dilemma and a challenge that must be dealt with by DAP and Pakatan Harapan if we want to win more Malay votes in the next polls,” Ong said.
Former Umno deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who is now with PKR, said Pakatan Harapan has to remind the people constantly of the good track record of the opposition coalition.
“If the federal government under BN keeps recording a deficit in its budget, remind the people that Penang has continued to record surpluses annually for seven straight years under the Pakatan administration,” he said.
Also present at the forum that went on for two and a half hours was Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who is an Amanah central committee member.