Dr Afif Bahardin - 'Reform is not an individual agenda'

FAHMY AZRIL ROSLI

The Triple A combination to lead PKR is neither a ‘syok sendiri’ (self-praising) movement nor a team-up created to sidelinedeny the existence of vice-president Rafizi Ramli in the party. Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin, who is among three candidates vying for PKR Youth chief’s post, tells FAHMY AZRIL ROSLI why the dynamic combination is the best bet for the party.Question: Why are you contesting?Answer: This is not the first time I am contesting the party election. It is a natural development.

I believe my experience as deputy Youth chief can take the wing to greater heights if I win the contest for the top post.Q: What can you say about your competition?A: Both of them (Johor Baru member of parliament Akmal Nasir and Kota Anggerik state assemblyman Najwan Halimi) are my friends.

We have been championing reformasi. They have strong leadership skills and capabilities.Q: Is there any difference in the party election now that PKR is in power and not the opposition?A: Yes, in terms of approach. When PKR was the opposition, our role was to act as checks and balances to the government. Now that we are part of the ruling coalition, PKR needs to change its approach and focus
on being a responsible government.Q: What is the strength of the Triple A combination?A: It combines the dynamic leadership of PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, incumbent deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (if he wins) and myself if I am voted in as Youth chief. I believe this combination will strengthen not only the party, but also the country. We want the party to get stronger to carry out development for a better Malaysia. The success of a party does not depend on one individual. My vision is for PKR to have strong leaders under the leadership of Anwar and assisted by Azmin and myself. That is why my campaign’s theme is “The future of PKR”. I am among those who called for Anwar to be made PKR president following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 14th General Election. Since Anwar is prime minister-in-waiting, it is important for PKR to be led by the strongest leaders.Q: No place for vice-president Rafizi Ramli in Triple A?A: I have never rejected Rafizi. He is an asset to the party. At a young age, Rafizi has made great sacrifice for the party and country.

There are winners and losers in any contest. That does not mean that those who failed to win will be sidelined. PKR is a “big tent” that promotes cooperation among people with different views and opinions. The party election is a democratic process. We are one big family united in carrying out the reform agenda for the nation.Q: What do you think about the existence of “kem-kem” (factions)?A: I don’t agree with the term “kem-kem”. Since the establishment of the party, Anwar and Azmin have stressed the importance of working together in the spirit of muafakat (consensus). If you look at the structure of PKR, the party comprises leaders and members from different backgrounds and ideologies.

Everyone is given the same opportunities, which is reflected in the way the party election is being carried out. Every member can vote, and is given an equal opportunity to be heard and chart the future of the party.

Having said that, it is impossible to please each of our 800,000 members.

Direct democracy is our strength. This reduces the politics of patronage or tribal politics. This is the reason why PKR remains relevant in today’s political landscape. Q: Some say that the Youth wing is just “budak suruhan” (followers) in the party.A: Youth leaders are strong. We do not take and follow instructions blindly. In fact, we are given avenues to voice criticism and contribute ideas.Q: What are some of the changes that you have introduced to the Youth wing?A: I have organised Akademi Keadilan Muda (young leadership academy) to develop and harness leadership skills.

Participants were able to establish good ties with one another. As the Malay saying goes, “tak kenal maka tak cinta” (to know somebody is to love somebody). As for the party polls, my aim is to see every member in the party move forward together.

No one will be left behind as the party and nation progress.Q: What if you lose?A: I have no problem working with anyone. I am open to discussion and cooperation.

Every leader has his strengths and weaknesses. We can complement each other and strengthen the party if we cooperate and adopt the highest form of professionalism. At the end of the day, our priority is to ensure that PKR continues to protect and improve the people’s wellbeing.Q: Who (between Azmin and Rafizi) is the original or true reformist?A: Reformation is not an individual agenda.

It started and gained momentum from the wave of revolt from the rakyat in 1998. As we know, Anwar, Azmin, Rafizi and other leaders are important characters in the reform episode. Questions on who is the original or true reformist do not arise.

What is important is the commitment and istiqamah (being consistent) of everyone to ensure and sustain the reform agenda. Everyone can claim to be the true reformist, but do they have what it takes to be one? Give them power to test their sincerity.Q: Is Anwar on the right path to becoming the next prime minister?A: The PKR leadership, including I, have discussed this matter. Based on the mandate given by the people, it is clear that Anwar should be the next prime minister succeeding Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. We have to honour and respect the people’s trust.

Anwar is on track to becoming the next prime minister after he won the president’s post in the party election.

But there is a long way to go. He has to become a member of parliament and we should cross the bridge when we get there. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd