PKR struggles to keep anti-govt sentiments alive by rewarding vocal critics

A source says PKR has set aside ‘incentives’ for those actively ‘keeping the government-bashing alive’.

PETALING JAYA: With the news and social media buzz on Covid-19 fast erasing the memory of the eventful week in February which saw the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government, one former ruling party is bent on keeping it alive in the public sphere by rewarding party members who criticise the current administration’s handling of the pandemic.

FMT can now reveal that PKR, a key member of the former ruling coalition, has initiated a campaign to effectively deny what is seen as the public’s approval of the Perikatan Nasional government despite its controversial rise to power.

Part of the campaign includes a call to party leaders to submit short videos showing their criticism of the administration of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was thrust into managing the country’s most serious crisis in modern history just days after being sworn in to the top office.

One message sighted by FMT was sent through a WhatsApp group, urging party members to keep their comments coming with a view to pointing out the government’s weaknesses in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced governments around the world to announce billions of dollars’ worth of rescue plans anticipating a collapse of the global economy.

“We are now in the second phase of the movement control order (MCO). As such, Suara Keadilan wants to take the initiative to prepare short videos of Keadilian leaders voicing their criticisms of the Perikatan Nasional government,” said one such message in a PKR chat group, referring to the party’s mouthpiece.

There is even a guideline on the format of the comments: videos must be between 30 seconds and a minute long, “with no background noise and good lighting”.

“Comment on any issue related to the Perikatan Nasional government, especially its weakness in handling Covid-19 and the lack of an economic recovery plan for the people after the Covid-19 crisis ends, as well as any other suitable issues,” said the message.

The collapse of PH took place just days before the World Health Organization sounded the alarm by declaring Covid-19 a pandemic, forcing governments around the world to step up measures to fight the deadly disease that had ravaged China.

About a week after forming his Cabinet, Muhyiddin announced unprecedented measures to contain the virus, including the closure of businesses and schools, and a halt to all daily activities nationwide under the MCO.

Public interest in the pandemic also trumped Malaysians’ obsession with politics, with most news portals having no choice but to feed the public the latest news and information on the deadly disease.

PH leaders have since turned to social media platforms, with many including their prime ministerial candidate Anwar Ibrahim making live appearance every day using popular online tools such as YouTube and Facebook.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that PKR has set aside “incentives” for those actively “keeping the government-bashing alive”, according to one source.

“It is something we set aside in February,” a PKR insider told FMT when asked to confirm.

He said the party would reward those who “comment aggressively” on social media.

“It can be in defence of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim or to attack traitors,” said the source, using a term now utilised by party leaders against the group of MPs who left the party to form Perikatan Nasional with PPBM, Umno, PAS and GPS.