At the Save Malaysia roundtable discussion yesterday, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli provided his diagnosis on reasons why the opposition lacked credibility.
The opposition, he had claimed, had been “out of touch with the people, to the point of being condescending”.
A large part of the opposition’s narrative, he added, had been irrelevant and sometimes condescending as opposition leaders had assumed that the people lacked understanding on certain issues.
This might have been the Pandan lawmaker’s personal observation, but his other party coalition colleagues seemed to agree with this, albeit to a certain extent.
Fellow PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar agreed that back and forth banter did not help in generating confidence amongst voters, nor do quick assumptions on voter sentiment via segmentation.
“A little humility from all leaders, who might be better off in managing the economic crunch in comparison with the lower income group, goes a long way,” she told Malaysiakini.
And in order to be effective representatives, Nurul Izzah said it was important for opposition leaders to be sensitive to rakyat-centric issues as well as to empathise with them.
“It is the rakyat who decides the agenda, especially in reforming the system. And the rakyat demands sincerity,” she added.
PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad also echoed his party colleague on the importance of humility from opposition leaders.
“I agree there is a need for humility and reflection on our side. That is always important.”
Meanwhile, DAP state assemblyperson Howard Lee observed that Rafizi’s presentation had provided a snapshot from a rather wide angle of contemporary Malaysia.
“I feel that the observations by Rafizi provided a compelling picture of Malaysian society as a whole.
“But I wouldn’t agree that it’s an overall picture of Malaysia's political field as the Malaysian political field is not monolithic,” he said.
He, however, admitted that it had provided valuable insights for introspection for the opposition to be more targeted in issues, positions and electoral strategies.
“I wouldn't deny that some parts of the opposition's narrative are out of touch, but it is not accurate to say that we are out of touch as a whole.
“I agree that parroting of issues is insufficient but I don’t think it should be discounted,” he added.
The Pasir Pinji state representative however, maintained that the opposition’s approaches, policies and principles had thus far not been condescending and had instead been painted as such.
“We have been inclusive, by trying to articulate complex issues to a wide audience though I do concur that the opposition needs to put more time and resources on matters closer to the hearts and lives of ordinary Malaysians.”
The Perak DAP Youth chief however cautioned the opposition against falling into the tactical trap of articulating its agenda and vision through racial lenses by never assuming any particular racial group as being monolithic.
Commenting on Rafizi’s presentation yesterday, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said the PKR lawmaker had revealed a very important thing.
“Nowadays with the influence of social media, we cannot treat people like they are simple minded. Today they are very influenced by the things on social media.
“Based on Rafizi’s revelation, we have to focus and to segmentise the voters and our target group.”
Agreeing with Rafizi on the importance of unity among the opposition parties, Salahuddin said the opposition must therefore be firm in making sure that it appeared united.
“The public view is that some of the opposition parties are still waiting for PAS to join or not to join.
“I made it very clear yesterday, engagement can still continue but with a time limit (as) we are at the 11th hour already,” he added.
On the other hand, is he confident that the opposition can convince the people that they can indeed do a better job than the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition?
Salahuddin was absolutely confident the opposition was up to task on this, pointing out how Pakatan Harapan was blessed with “good leaders”.
“We are quite senior in politics and people like Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Mukhriz Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin have come on board.
“It’s just that the people have to be convinced, especially the Malays because there is this taboo that the Chinese will take over the country.
“That one we must be very careful, we have to go back to the drawing board and must really address the Malay issue because people in rural areas are very concerned about this issue,” he said.
Convincing the Malays of the opposition’s sincerity had been a major theme in the roundtable discussion yesterday.
Rafizi in his presentation had said that Malay voters were not entirely convinced that the country’s institutions would be better off in the hands of the opposition.
Mahathir had also stressed the importance in showing the Malays that the opposition was indeed concerned about the people while Amanah president Mohamad Sabu said the question currently rests on the confidence of the Malays on their fate, should BN be defeated.- Mkini