PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli launches PKR’s GE15 CISTA app at the International Youth Centre in Cheras September 18, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Sunday, 18 Sep 2022 12:36 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli said today Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) chances of getting the 30 per cent Malay vote needed to put the coalition back in power at the 15th general election is “doable”, as the party begins to ramp up its machinery for the looming national polls.
Rafizi claimed the shift in Malay voter sentiment had already happened between July and August, but on a smaller scale.
Speaking at a party machinery meeting in Bandar Tun Razak here, where campaign workers at the divisional level will begin a crash course on how to use what has been touted as a game-changer for the party’s electioneering drive, the former federal lawmaker is betting on a campaign oriented mostly through the application called the “CISTA” to drive a much larger swing.
“We ran two parallel surveys, and we had a snapshot. Between July and August, there was a 3 to 4 per cent swing in Malay votes towards Pakatan,” said the PKR deputy president.
This purported favourable shift came just a month after Barisan Nasional won the Johor state election, gaining a supermajority in a similar feat achieved just a few months prior in the Melaka state election.
Rafizi argued this suggested voter perception remains fluid and that the back-to-back wins for the Umno-led lynchpin would not necessarily reflect voting sentiment at the national level.
The former MP was also dismissive of claims that PH could stand to lose in Malay-majority seats in the event that rivals Umno and PAS avoid multi-cornered fights, claiming that a mere one-third of the Malay vote could see PH win even in constituencies that were once considered tough. There are reportedly 27 of these seats.
“Things are a lot more dynamic in terms of support level from week to week. If you see this trend of 1 to 2 per cent swing every month towards Pakatan and PKR, even if there is a one-on-one fight, if Pakatan can get up to 30 per cent of the Malay vote and voter turnout is 75 per cent,
PH strategists believe its maiden national win in the watershed 2018 general election was made possible by a 30 per cent Malay vote swing. The swing was largely fuelled by anger over the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, which was blamed for the rise in inflationary pressures at the time.
Rafizi claimed the party’s recent surveys suggest that same factor could drive more Malay voters to put PH back into power even as confidence in the coalition dwindled by infighting and the mass defections in 2020 that led to a coup just two years into power.
“Eighty per cent of the respondents said they are very dissatisfied with the state of the economy,” he said.
“Now to put things into perspective in May 2018, when Umno led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak lost (just) 65 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied meaning that economically, their views (about the current government) are much worse than May 2018… it has sunk to the lowest level since we started tracking the number since June 2016.”
Today’s meeting with some 600 grassroots campaign workers will mark the PKR’s pivot towards a purely data-driven campaigning method that Rafizi declared could revolutionise how election campaigns are run.
Based on voting data compiled and collated since 2008, the CISTA system is meant to help campaign workers run a more focused campaign by allowing the party to channel what limited resources it has towards canvassing non-partisan but indecisive voters.
That way canvassing would be far cheaper since campaign workers can filter out voters that aren’t likely to vote for Pakatan and focus only on those who might, Rafizi asserted, ultimately reducing dependency on funding.
Rafizi suggested that the heavily cash-reliant conventional campaigning method has made electioneering prone to abuse and corruption.
“What we are trying to do is a complete 180-degree change in electioneering in Malaysia
A huge chunk of the 25 million electorate that will vote in the 15th general election are believed to be “on-the-fence” voters with no party affiliation.
While CISTA has been deployed by party strategists since 2018, the system is now designed to operate on a smartphone, making it far more compact, accessible and user-friendly.