Saturday, May 4, 2013

100,000 rally in Penang in wake of vote-buying claims

PENANG Pakatan Rakyat held several gatherings in Penang yesterday, including a mammoth rally at the Esplanade which was swarmed by about 100,000 people who stayed until midnight.

This is the coalition's biggest rally on the island where it managed to collect a record RM505,000 in donations from its supporters.

penang dap rally 030513 audience 02The carnival-like event, which included a stage and canopy, dozens of hawker stalls and DAP's own merchandise sales corner, kicked off at 5pm while about 500 people watched a mini-concert by local bands such as Zombie Station, TUC, and Sweet Scream.

The open field facing the iconic British-styled Town Hall building was packed by 8pm, including youths and senior citizens, and the crowd spilled over onto the surrounding roads.

Several small separate rallies were held in front of the Town Hall and nearby Clock Tower with groups of supporters waving opposition party flags while blowing the vuvuzuela, wildly deafening to the ears.

penang dap rally 030513 singerThe overwhelming support for Pakatan dismisses fears that its candidates would lose out to BN in Penang due to alleged money politics in the form of betting, lucky draws, cash handouts, free meals and outdoor entertainment.

At one point, BN supporters also held a small protest nearby, outside the Umno Tanjung operations centre along Bishop street; but there was no report of clashes between the group and their rivals en route to the Esplanade.

The crowd was delighted when DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang took the stage, saying he should be in Gelang Patah for an event but "vote buying" tactics in the state drove him into heading  to Penang due to the 

penang dap rally 030513 audience 06"I feel very angry that my daughter-in-law Betty Chew and our supporters had to go baldto protest against money politics," he said, referring to yesterday morning's event at the Kek Lok Si Temple.

"How come our politics have descended to such a low level?" he asked. "Penangites and Malaysians are crying. Who bears the responsibility for this situation?" he queried.

The crowd shouted "Goh Choon Lye!" in reply.

Goh, a well-known property developer once known as the ‘diamond king', was reported in the Chinese press to have dished out RM100 in cash at a 1Malaysia dinner two days ago.

The diners had reportedly rushed to get the money and the situation became so chaotic that Goh decided to set up a RM20 million charity fund instead.

However, Kit Siang reminded the crowd that it was caretaker prime minister Najib Razak who should be held responsible for vote-buying because he condoned such a blatant display of it in Penang.

"BN buying votes is an insult to Penangites. We hope on May 5, Penangites will decide to make Najib the last prime minister from BN," he said, drawing loud applause.

Kit Siang serenades crowd

Kit Siang then broke into a classical Mandarin song titled "I have a lot of money" to express his disgust at the situation.

penang dap rally 030513 leadersAccompanying him were Pakatan leaders including DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and PAS deputy president Mohammed Sabu, better known as Mat Sabu, who were greeted with great enthusiasm by the mostly Chinese crowd.

Kit Siang accompanied by his son, Guan Eng, after the latter's speech, left the ceramah venue for the airport at about 9pm to return to Gelang Patah in southern Johor where he is facing off against caretaker Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman.

penang dap rally 030513 mat sabuMat Sabu (left) also left after his speech to be greeted by about 1,000 people in Tasek Gelugor, an Umno stronghold in Penang where PAS is seeking to wrest the parliamentary seat from its rival.

Last night's rally was in stark contrast to a gathering held by Umno in Seberang Jaya yesterday where about 1,000 turned up to meet former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Similarly, only about 400 attracted to a free musical concert organised by the 1Malaysia Penang Welfare Club, which is publicly aligned to Najib, at the Queensbay Mall last night.

The crowd size at the Esplanade also clearly outnumbered the 10,000 strong crowd which took part in a free dinner and mega-musical concert held by the 1Malaysia Club in honour of Najib in Rifle Range three days ago.

At the event, Najib announced the building of 9,999 low, medium-cost and affordable apartments for the local folks there.

~ Malaysiakini

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