PM's rating likely tops agenda

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR's 2023 Annual National Congress, which kicks off today, is significant as it marks the one-year anniversary of party forming part of the federal government, as well as that of its president, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, holding the prime ministerial role.

However, the milestone comes on the backdrop of less than favourable approval rating for Anwar and, in turn, his reform policies, which critics claim have yet to make their full impact felt.

More than 2,700 PKR leaders and members are expected to attend the two-day event, as well as 1,500 observers, at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

The congress involves the party wings, including the Youth and Women's wings. The opening speech will be delivered by Rafizi Ramli, the party's deputy president and economy minister.

Anwar is scheduled to deliver his opening speech at 9.40pm after the party's wings present their 10 agendas.

PKR Youth deputy chief Muhammad Kamil Abdul Munim said the congress would invoke the spirit of "Reformasi" (reform) and set the stage for reflection and renewed commitment not only among the leadership but also its grassroots.

Kamil said the approval rating issued by think tank Merdeka Centre on Anwar's one-year performance in Putrajaya would be on the minds of delegates.

However, he noted that Anwar had dedicated his first year as PM to addressing crucial structural issues.

"It's like building a house. We need to ensure that the foundation or basis is strong and perfect before we move on to other things," he told the New Straits Times.

Apart from addressing the approval rating issue, Kamil said, the party would also address a number of Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal lawmakers' support for Anwar, strengthening the latter's position as the prime minister.

On whether the unity government's component parties were uncomfortable with the PN leaders' support, Kamil said he viewed it as positive.

"It shows that the culture of blindly following certain leaders is waning and that such practices need to end," he said.

Political analysts, however, believe that PKR should not be quick to sweep the approval rating issue under the carpet.

International Islamic University Malaysia political analyst Syaza Shukri said such polls were a significant barometer of the people's sentiments.

She said the lower approval rating could be attributed to ineffective communication as people were still leaning towards PN's narrative that the government was steering the economy towards doom.

"The people are sending a message that they do not feel the reforms or changes. Despite the (positive) economic numbers, some continue to believe in the opposition's narrative of a doomed economy.

"This shows the power of effective communication. In other words, I think the low satisfaction towards the government is a sign of the government's inability to win and convince the people of what they have done."

Dr Azmi Hassan from the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research said two factors influenced the low ratings.

"First, the government was distracted from focusing on core issues because it granted the wishes of 19 component parties, primarily allies in Sabah and Sarawak.

"Second, the ideological differences between DAP and Umno in the peninsular posed a challenge to the concept of a unity government.

"But I believe in the second year, these factors will die down, especially after they have the numbers with four PN lawmakers throwing their support behind the government.

"With the pressure minimised, the government can focus on their core duties and unveil policies that demonstrate that the government is doing something, especially regarding the cost of living. So the second year should be a much better one."

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