Saifuddin: Pakatan must counter Umno's racial fear mongering to win votes

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Last Updated: 3:36pm, Apr 15, 2014

PETALING JAYA (April 15): A PKR leader today stressed the need for Pakatan Rakyat to have an organised strategy to counter the racial issues played up by Umno, in order to win back Malay votes in GE14.

Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the outgoing PKR secretary-general who is vying for the deputy presidency in the coming party polls, said PKR, PAS and DAP leaders should resort to intellect to respond to the racial fear mongering by Umno among the Malays.

“The main cause of the Malay vote deficit for Pakatan Rakyat is our failure to face the racial issues played up by Umno to incite fear among the Malay voters,” he told a press conference at the PKR headquarters.

Saifuddin said PKR must strengthen its campaign of explaining to the Malays about Islam’s position in the country to convince them that non-Muslims, in practising their respective faiths, will not threaten the status of Islam.

PKR, he added, must highlight its ideology  to effectively counter Umno’s claim that the status of Malays, Islam and the Malay rulers will be affected if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya.

Saifuddin, who appeared at the press conference together with vice-president candidates Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi Ramli, outlined their three key strategies to win GE14.

He said PKR needs to focus on young voters who would make up 60% of the electorate,  including by championing the youth agenda by highlighting the issues close to the heart of the youth.

“Although PKR is always ahead of other parties in the agenda to put forward young leaders, I am of the opinion that this effort must be more aggressive and structured.

“The existing talents in the party, such as the state assemblypersons and MPs, must be given the opportunity to take care of important functions of the party within the party, and not confined to the Youth wing leadership,” he said.

Stressing the importance of  attracting more young members, he said a special programme must be in place immediately to recruit young professional s who  will be mentored by senior leaders in the party.

He added that he wants to see more than 50% of the party membership made up of people below the age of 35. Currently they account for 35%-38% of the party’s 500,000 members.

On prepartions for GE14,  Saifuddin said  seat allocations among Pakatan component parties  must be decided earlier to avoid a repeat of previous controversies when it was decided at the last minute.

“I will continue to voice out to ensure that the system would be changed completely,” he said.

When pointed out that PKR has in the past not fielded leaders who had worked on the ground resulting in the party losing the seats, Saifuddin Nasution said the current system was good but has  room for improvement.

“The process ought not to be static. It must be dynamic, and subjected to situation. We had fielded candidates from outside the ring and fight, for instance in Johor Bahru, because we want to field someone who can compete in terms of ranks and files with the incumbent, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad,” he said.

He added that sometimes the element of surprise can become a winning factor.

Saifuddin said seat negotiations with DAP and PAS for GE14 must start immediately and finalized by the end of this year

The secretary-general, who has been involved in seat negotiations since 1999, said this would be  a practical step.

Saifuddin went on to explain the Pakatan seat allocation basis:

> Seats where well personalities are fielded such as Permatang Pauh and Marang will remain with the respective parties

> Seats won previously will remain with the respective parties.

> Seats lost by a slim majority will remain with the respective parties.

> Seats lost by a big majority will be up for grabs, with a winnable candidate from any of the parties being fielded.
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