Pakatan’s only hope , Rafizi Ramli

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For all his faults PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli brings to Pakatan Rakyat something no one else can offer – the appearance of having a vision for the nation.

Sure, his pronouncements sound a lot like one man making it up as he goes along without the backing of a dedicated policy unit, but that’s only because Pakatan doesn’t have a policy unit.

His pledge to scrap PTPTN was exposed within days by Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin as having a RM23 billion price tag, and likewise his pledge on scrapping vehicle excise fell flat with the automotive industry.

Rafizi also got caught out on his promise to boost housing stocks under a potential Pakatan government which he admitted could not take place until the “third year because this problem cannot be solved quickly”. Najib placed no such caveats on his Budget 2013 pledge to create 130,000 low cost housing units. In the end Rafizi was forced to admit that he had yet to deal with “nitty gritty items” of his strategy, otherwise known as policy details.

But despite making announcements that sound like they were formulated over lunch, Rafizi has nevertheless distinguished himself within Pakatan as someone willing to have a go. He is one of the few people ready to speak publicly as though his motley coalition actually has a chance of governing this nation. Almost everyone else within the Opposition coalition chooses to remain silent in the hope that voter dissatisfaction with Barisan Nasional will deliver them to power.

Better BN loses the election than we try to win it, is Pakatan’s unwritten motto.

That said, Rafizi is now in big trouble. The High Court in Shah Alam dismissed an application on Friday to quash charges laid against him over the NFC affair. He had been accused of making public confidential financial data in contravention of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia).

The 35-year-old is alleged to have revealed those account details at PKR headquarters in March this year, but on August 1 he moved to have the charges dropped. Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha has now thrown out that bid.

This is a body blow for him and for Pakatan Rakyat. For Rafizi it is a setback because he has always claimed he was acting in the public interest in exposing details of the NFC affair. But the court has rejected this assertion and made it clear that no one can reveal confidential data and then claim that the end justifies the means.

Rafizi had no more right to do it in this case than if he had exposed the credit card details of any private citizen and then claimed public interest.

It also means that he is one step closer to a criminal trial in the first half of 2013 that could take place just before GE 13. Even before a conviction rules him out of taking public office, a trial could limit his involvement in the election campaign.

This is a dreadful outcome for Anwar who presides over a party with a dearth of talent. Once he thought he could groom Azmin Ali, Nurul Izzah and Rafizi to take over the party, but Azmin has forsaken the national political stage in favour of the Selangor Menteri Besar’s job (in other words, a role that actually involves government) and has embarked on a battle to the end with Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah in the process.

Nurul Izzah has done her political ambitions no end of damage with her comments about Muslims being free to choose their faith.

That only leaves Rafizi, who Anwar needs for his job description – strategy. As it stands, PKR and indeed, the whole of Pakatan Rakyat, is rudderless and unable to inspire the rakyat about how a future under them could look.

Removing Rafizi from the scene makes that seem nigh on impossible.

All this comes hot on the heels of PAS members saying they would rather see Prime Minister Abdul Hadi Awang than Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Is it possible that Anwar will now get to the end of 2012 and announce that he has had enough? Given the state of affairs within PKR anything is possible.  –  thechoice