Thousands turned up last night at the Penang Stadium in mainland Batu Kawan for Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) rally to protest last weekend’s election results. Most of them, dressed in black, had to park their cars from as far as the Bukit Tambun toll plaza six kilometres away due to the traffic congestion. PKR de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim arrived in the stadium before 8.30pm to avoid the gridlock around the stadium. At 9pm, the 40,000 capacity stadium was half full with most of the crowd on the football pitch while others were stuck in a massive gridlock outside the stadium. Many of them inside the stadium were young and waved giant flags belonging to the three PR parties, PAS, PKR and DAP. Among those who spoke at the rally were PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu and DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Mohamed, better known as Mat Sabu, got the crowd cheering when he asked them to laugh and boo the Election Commission (EC) for their “missteps” in using indelible ink that could be washed off and what he termed irregularities in the voting process. In a fiery speech, Anwar dubbed the May 5 general elections as “the mother of all frauds”, a line he borrowed from National Laureate poet Datuk A. Samad Said. He also blasted Umno and its newspaper for blaming Barisan Nasional’s (BN) lower win on the “Chinese tsunami” and their greed for power. “What do the Chinese, Malay, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and the rest of us want?” he asked, before replyng, “We want free and fair elections”, a reference to Umno’s Utusan Malaysia daily which asked in banner headlines “What else do the Chinese want?”. “The EC were cheats. The last (election)... is the mother of all frauds,” he told the crowd. “In these elections, we demand answers, and we demand the answers now,” Anwar added. PR parties have complained about irregular voting patterns, suspicious handling of ballot boxes and other issues with both DAP and PAS mulling election petitions to contest the results. ~themalaysianinsider.com~
Some 50,000, mostly dressed in black, have packed the Stadium MBPJ while thousands others are trying to get in for a rally for free and fair elections organised by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Stadium MBPJ in Kelana Jaya near here tonight. The evening shower caused traffic congestion but most of the crowd dropped off at the Kelana Jaya LRT station and walked to the stadium near the Subang Airport road. Among those speaking at the rally are opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang. Anwar arrived after 10pm on a scooter and was greeted with loud roars that echoed through the stadium by the crowd who chanted "Kami Anak Malaysia". Thousands dressed in black have packed the stands and also the football pitch in the stadium. "This is the beginning of a battle between the rakyat and an illegitimate, corrupt, and arrogant government," the PKR de facto leader told the crowd. Traffic remains backed up around Kelana Jaya right up to the NPE toll plaza near Sunway. Earlier, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told the 50,000-odd crowd inside the stadium, "I am Malay, but I support Pakatan Rakyat."
Social media research group Politweet.org estimated the crowd size in and around the stadium at between 64,000 and 69,000, given that the stadium capacity is about 25,000. There has been no police presence around the stadium until now. In Marang, Terengganu, thousands are crowding PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's Masjid Rusila for another rally, reports PAS news portal Harakahdaily. Among those there are ex-Umno Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, whose defection to PAS had been one of the surprises in Election 2013. In Singapore, the Singapore Straits Times reported tonight that a group of over 200 Malaysians gathered at the Merlion Park to protest against what they claimed were rigged elections over the weekend.
Dressed mostly in black, they were holding placards, with phrases such as "We Want Bersih (clean)" and "No To Racism". One, translated from Mandarin, read: "We Are One Family". The crowd appeared to be peaceful, with chants erupting occasionally.
Participants told The Straits Times that the message for the gathering was spread spontaneously on Wednesday through social media. Many of them were not aware who started the protest, but said they received calls or messages from their friends, and decided to be a part of the event. Polls watchdog Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said also attended the mass rally. Samad, who was dressed in black, recited a poem titled “Tipu segala tipu” (The lie of all lies) that drew cries of “Ubah!” (Change) from the crowd. Ambiga did not give a speech but rallied the crowd to shout, “Long live Bersih. Long live the rakyat. We will clean up!” Thousands of people cried out, “Tipu SPR!” (SPR are liars), referring to the Election Commission (EC) by its Malay acronym, as PR leaders railed against widespread reports of electoral fraud in Election 2013. Bersih has refused to recognise the BN government until it verified reports of vote-rigging in the country’s hottest election in history. ~themalaysianinsider.com~
Malaysians will go to the polls on May 5 in what is predicted to be a closely fought election, with 55 years of one-party government being challenged by Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the People’s Justice Party and head of the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat. Campaigning for the ideals of empowerment, justice and equity, the coalition is calling for an end to corruption and the reform of civil and democratic institutions. Anwar Ibrahim emphasises social justice, poverty eradication, education and civil society and he has been a powerful symbol of integrity in the shadowy world of Malaysian politics for many years.
He was a former deputy prime minister in Malaysia, holding various cabinet positions in agriculture, commerce, education and finance before becoming right hand man to former prime minister Mahathir. While finance minister he was recognised as an “Asian tiger” and Newsweek named him its 1998 “Asian of the Year” for his role in rescuing Malaysia from the Asian financial crisis. When establishing a reform movement, he courageously accused the prime minister of corruption, which led to his temporary downfall and six years in jail on trumped-up charges.
Emerging from the politically motivated accusations in 2004, he gained a notable result in the 2008 elections, winning one-third of the seats and five states from the incumbent National Front party. Attempts to smear his reputation again failed when accusations were finally dismissed last year for lack of evidence. He is regarded as Malaysia’s best hope against an autocratic and corrupt government which many think have ruled Malaysia for far too long. The incumbents are using the usual tactics such as tampering with the electoral rolls and using huge amounts of public money to campaign against the opposition. At speeches and rallies Anwar Ibrahim is compelling, charismatic and persuasive as he remains steadfast in his trust in true democracy and his faith in the wisdom of the people.
His followers are joining him in their hundreds of thousands in the call for electoral reform and an end to corruption scandals, crime and police brutality. Anwar knows well that he is up against a well-oiled propaganda machine that calls itself “Moderate Malaysia” and controls the media’s often empty vote-getting slogans which distort the meaning of freedom, democracy and human rights. His own coalition is a triumph of bringing to consensus the disparate elements of his People’s Justice Party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic party and the ethnic Chinese Democratic Action party. He has managed to bring them together into a broader liberal community through “active and vibrant intellectual discourse,” acknowledging extremists with respect and tolerance.
The objective is a multi-party democracy where leading parties will change every few years as a way of being accountable to the people, putting an end to the single party domination of Malaysian politics. The twin issues of corruption and living costs are of major concern to voters. Anwar’s People’s Alliance has established a good track record in the states it currently governs, and he told reporters on April 4 that he was “cautiously optimistic” about winning a majority in parliament. The people of Malaysia have become more aware of national issues and their right to criticise, question and condemn their current rulers whose excesses and extravagances have no limits.
In the culture of patronage and political largesse, huge sums of public money have been squandered in failed economic ventures and speculative projects, which certainly have not benefitted Malaysians. Education, housing and health services are all in need of upgrading and investment and the country suffers from stagnant wages and a huge and growing national debt, as the government borrows to maintain handouts to retain political power. It is a tragic state for a Muslim country to be in, as it has moved far from the tenets of Islam which include moderation, piety, justice and fairness to all. The Pakatan Rakyat offers the best hope of reform and change and the fact that the coalition contains diverse interests and competing ideologies can be seen as one of its strengths. By bringing together different ethnic and religious groups the PR coalition is more representative of a truly democratic Malaysia, more concerned for the good of the country and all its people than the nationalist Malay group represented by the ruling Barisan Nasional.
If the nation is to eradicate poverty which is one of the often repeated campaign promises of the current government, then mismanagement, corruption and abuse of power will have to be replaced with a moral government with the interests of the people at heart. Anwar Ibrahim has an opportunity on May 5 to save his country from the one-party rule that threatens to hold back the country with stagnating ideas and economics; hopefully the people of Malaysia will recognise the moment for its historical significance and give Anwar Ibrahim the chance to lead his country to a renaissance of integrity, prosperity and true democracy.~AnwarIbrahimblog.com~
While DAP rallies here are drawing huge crowds, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was pitching to smaller groups in the state’s Malay heartland in a tight race for every vote for the May 5 general election. On the stump last night, the PKR de facto leader reminded the Malays that the community remained the poorest in the country despite Umno’s purported pro-Malay politics. “In the name of the Malays, they said, yet we remain the poorest while the nation’s wealth is concentrated in a few Malay Umno elites,” he told a crowd of 150 in Chembong, a Malay majority state seat south of here. Anwar’s presence in semi-urban Rembau, a known Barisan Nasional (BN) fortress that houses the state’s Umno caretaker mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Mohamad Hassan, also drew enthusiastic response from a predominantly Malay crowd of about 2,000 strong.
Another testimony to the growing Malay support for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in BN fortress state of Negri Sembilan is the huge Malay presence at a rally in Sikamat here where Anwar took the stage before an audience of 10,000. “This is where Malaysians rise to fight for what is theirs. This is the people’s awakening,” the opposition leader told the energetic crowd. The state’s PR leaders believe the federal opposition bloc has secured virtually most of the Chinese votes judging from the overwhelming attendance of its nightly rallies in predominantly Chinese and urban locations like Seremban and Rasah. Just a few days ago, a rally held in Rasah reportedly attracted close to 15,000 people while smaller rallies recorded turnouts of thousands in average.
Negri Sembilan PR chief Anthony Loke said the pact’s main focus is now on bagging at least 45 per cent of the state’s Malay votes while aiming to get at least 25 per cent of the community’s support in Umno’s bastions. The DAP central executive committee member added that the response it has received nine days into campaigning has led him to believe that the small Malay vote swing needed for an opposition win in key mixed semi-urban seats are achievable. “We have a real fighting chance to form the new government. The mood for change has intensified now,” he told The Malaysian Insider after taking the stump in Sikamat here last night. PR won 15 of the 36 state seats in Election 2008. It needs just four more to form the new government and is looking to zero in on Jeram Padang, Chennah, Pilah and Kelawang.
Among the major reasons said to be behind Umno’s reversed fortunes is infighting that has paralysed its polls machinery in key seats. Another key factor is the effectiveness of PR’s campaign in playing up issues like corruption and power abuse by the BN government, an Umno source told The Malaysian Insider. “They are playing up national issues. It’s no longer the candidates running down on other candidates. It’s all national issues and it’s working,” said an Umno leader. A ground survey on the reception to the issues resounded well with rural Malay voters judging from Anwar’s campaign trail deep in Negri Sembilan’s vast interiors here yesterday. Malaysia’s southern states have not seen any opposition win since Independence but analyst note that PR is now making inroads and is poised to wrest several more federal seats from Johor, Negri Sembilan and Malacca in this election.