Dismissing the diminishing, dim moves


AS THE 2018 curtains draw to a close, on reflection, it was obviously the year of political euphoria and surprises — pleasant for many, but nightmarish for others.

But the geniality is thinning as harsh realities creep in. It is already horrific for those who were caught off guard by the change in the political leadership.

Their nightmare of May 9 was actually only the beginning. Some seem to seek small comfort in delusions of past grandeur, while others succumb to being in denial.

Worst are, of course, those waiting in line to be tried and charged for their role in plundering the nation dry. While they await their fate, probably those who unashamedly supported them would finally take stock and reflect with some mortification for their complicity in the crimes.

But the vicissitudes of political life are quite strange. Not all victors end up victorious.

Take Mohd Rafizi Ramli (picture) for instance. For someone who was at the forefront in the run-up to the 14th General Election (GE14), the victory should spell the beginning of an illustrious career ahead.

After all, he earned the goodwill, trust and regards from the populace for having to sacrifice his Pandan seat with a jail term eventuality for being a whistleblower. But the goodwill ended soon after Pakatan Harapan took over the nation’s helm.

It started heading south for Rafizi when he decided, which to some is without reason or rhyme, to reveal the findings of his outfit, Invoke Malaysia, that Pakatan Harapan’s victory should not be attributed to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s popularity, but instead on bread and butter issue. The backlash he received was overwhelming and although not as empirical, seemed to negate the findings of his Invoke.

Furthermore, Invoke’s objectivity was also quite suspect after GE14 as it had prominently announced before polling that PAS would not win a single seat. The results showed otherwise. PAS won two states and put up a strong showing in the Malay belt. That was seven months ago.

Two days ago, Rafizi again decided to “announce” that Dr Mahathir’s popularity among Malaysians had plunged by 20% to 53% as opposed to the 72% he enjoyed in June 2018.

Again, the backlash was swift and strong. Netizens denounced Rafizi as being selective and his statement confirmed the suspicions of his hatred for Dr Mahathir.

But the details in the backlash are probably more vitriolic as the social media practitioners started pointing out Rafizi’s own failings and inability to realise that the antics in his party and he himself during the party elections contributed much more to the disillusionment towards Pakatan Harapan.

Their bone of contention is that how can anyone take Rafizi’s opinion on such polls and ratings seriously when he couldn’t even get the prediction of his chances against Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali for the PKR deputy presidency right. His defeat, to them, proved his incompetence in such affairs.

Of course, these opinions are anecdotal to say the least. Yet, in a world where influencers and social media opinions do matter, to dismiss them would be at one’s own peril.

Given how savvy Rafizi and Invoke should be in this department, surely they would not have anticipated such backlash.

Then again, as pointed out by some of his detractors, Rafizi’s concern is not the reason why but who and if his Kajang and Port Dickson moves are of essence, then obviously public opinion vis-a-vis the Internet is the least of his considerations.

Similarly when he decided to join Nurul Izzah Anwar, who recently resigned as VP of PKR, for coffee with former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, reactions were mostly disdainful and scornful if not outright condescending.

From within his party, questions were raised over the wisdom of him and in particular Nurul Izzah for having a threesome tete-a-tete with Khairy when the latter had not shown any remorse for his contemptible description of Nurul Izzah’s father Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 2008 leading to a court case.

N Surendran, Anwar’s former lawyer, pointed out that in Anwar’s suit against Khairy, the latter had continued with his defence of his statement against Anwar and is still pursuing it at the apex court.

This said, Surendran made it seemed odd for Rafizi and Nurul Izzah to be in the company of Khairy.

All things considered, it is not a good year for Rafizi. By extension, given that Rafizi is styled as the party’s strategist and despite the impressive showing in the national polls earlier, PKR’s stature has taken quite a beating since then.

But with the year drawing to a close, PKR and all else can always look forward to better ratings in 2019 and not from one source.

For Rafizi, he has proven to be resourceful and a man of “moves”. All he needs is one new move or maybe many.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.