PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told reporters today that he will raise the matter during the PR secretariat meeting tomorrow.
He pointed out that PKR had been forced to stretch its resources thin during the April 16 state polls when it contested in a whopping 49 state seats, a move that had likely contributed to its failure to win in more than just three constituencies.
The party, he revealed, had originally only been intent on contesting in 25 seats where it felt its presence was strong but had to field candidates in an additional 24 “impossible-to-win” seats when neither one of its PR partners were willing to take on the challenge.
“Even SNAP was not willing to reach a compromise and only wanted to field its candidates in the areas where PKR felt it had a chance of scoring.
“We did not have a choice,” he told a press conference to reveal the party’s first analysis of the Sarawak polls.
When the polls concluded on April 16, DAP emerged the most victorious of the three PR parties when it swept up 12 of the 15 state seats that it contested. Trailing far behind was PKR with just three of 49 seats while PAS failed to win any of the five seats it contested.
BN triumphed in 55 seats, down eight seats from its previous 63 seats during the 2006 polls, and had its popular vote dip eight per cent to 54.5 per cent.
While Rafizi stressed that PKR was not upset at having to shoulder the burden, he noted that it would help the pact greatly if DAP and PAS were willing to venture into some of the black areas known to be Barisan Nasional (BN) fortresses for the coming polls.
“I know I am the most junior and therefore I don’t mind to be slaughtered after this for saying this but definitely, somebody has to say it... and definitely these issues will be brought to the post-mortem when PR meets.
“We understand the fact that there are seats where a party stands a better chance but if we were to move foward, we have to take note that real change can only happen if Sabah and Sarawak changes.
“For the longest time, these states were BN’s fixed deposits simply because there was a zero presence of opposition forces,” he said.
He reminded PR parties that an election is about “familiarity and strength on the ground” and in order to make inroads, all parties had to lay out the groundwork by opening branches and electing leaders even in BN stronghold areas.
“You cannot expect to not do work and suddenly a voter who has never seen the symbol of a rocket or the moon or crescent starts voting for you.
“PKR does not mind shouldering the burden or breaking the ground but in my opinion, this effort should be shared out equally,” he said.
Citing examples from the Sarawak polls, Rafizi pointed out that in PKR’s contest in the Bukit Sari state seat, the party needed a staggering 45 per cent vote swing from BN in order to clinch the seat.
“And in at least more than 20 over seats, we needed a higher than 20 per cent vote swing in our favour to win. It was very difficult,” he said.
However, Rafizi said that the party leadership had not wanted to allow walkover victories for BN by avoiding contest in 24 constituences.
“If we did that, all they would need is to win in just 12 seats in order to form government. Any notion of political change as advocated by PR would have been hollow.
“The people of Sarawak would have ridiculed a PR campaign that boasts of a chance for change when BN is only 12 seats away from winning the state from nomination day,” he said.
Despite this, Rafizi noted that PKR had given a sterling performance in the polls as the results had shown that the opposition had made significant inroads with voters across all communities.
“The vote swing to PKR was unprecedented,” he said.
PKR, he explained, had seen a positive vote swing in 26 of the 49 seats that it contested, with the highest swing in Meluan, an Iban seat.
“Here, the swing was 31 per cent and what is unique about this area is that there was only an increase of four per cent in voter turnout in comparison to the last polls but yet the swing was high.
“What does this mean? It indicates the ability and the willingness of the rural Iban community to voice their brewing dissatisfaction of BN at the ballot box, in spite of all the intimidation and political bribery showered to them,” he said.
On the level of support from the various communities for PR, Rafizi noted there was a steady swing towards PKR and the pact in general from all the communities.
According to figures provided in PKR’s preliminary analysis, the party and PR had averaged 19 per cent of support from the Malay/Melanau community, 32 per cent from the Ibans, 65 per cent from the Chinese, 26 per cent from the Bidayuhs and between 22 per cent and 56 per cent from the Orang Ulus.
“This happened across the state, regardless of race or geography. So if there are any attempts by certain people to claim that PR’s victories were based on the protest vote from the Chinese, it is not true. The analysis proves this,” he said.
Rafizi added that the polls results had also clearly shown that the people of Sarawak were now susceptible to the idea of a two-party system.