'We are not interested in the Election Commission fixing the mistakes in the coming general election. We want the commission to declare that Pakatan won the 13th GE,' thunders Anwar.
JOHOR BAHRU: In the heart of the once impregnable fortress of Barisan Nasional, tens of thousands gathered to express their dissatisfaction over what the opposition has dubbed as the stolen elections.
Despite the venue being changed twice in short notice due to the authorities refusing to give the green light, people still braved the rain and traffic gridlock to attend the Pakatan Rakyat rally in Puteri Wangsa here last night.
Held in the middle of shoplots, the crowd flooded the streets, with some risking life and limb by perching on tree branches to catch a glimpse of the speakers.
A cacophony of vuvuzelas reverberated through the air as the area took on a carnival-like atmosphere. There were rows of stalls selling an assortment of pro-opposition merchandise, ranging from t-shirts to stickers, as well as food and drinks.
The restaurants there took on the appearance of funeral parlours with their premises overflowing with patrons clad in black to mourn the death of democracy in Malaysia.
While the owners would be pleased for being able to cash in on the event, the waiters and cooks, unaccustomed to such large crowds, struggled to cope with the orders.
There were also those who had come from other states even from as far as Selangor and Penang to lend their support.
Several cars bearing Singaporean registration plates were also spotted parked along the roadside, prompting one participant to quip that the Singaporeans were there to pick up pointers on how to push the agenda of change on the island state, where PAP, similar to BN, has been in power for decades. ‘The youth have awakened’
The majority of those who attended were youths. And while the older folks seemed camera-shy, the youngsters had no qualms in posing for photographs brandishing placards and banners, which among others, denounced BN and racism.
Weighing in on this, a retired accountant, who wished to be known only as Chong, said that the 13th general election had served as an awakening for young Malaysians.
“When I was their age, I couldn’t care less about politics,” reminisced the 62-year-old Johorean.
“Look at their camaraderie. There are no racial or religious barriers here. As far as they are concerned, racial politics is no longer relevant. And while [Prime Minister] Najib [Tun Razak] coined the term 1Malaysia, it is Anwar [Ibrahim] who has turned the slogan into a reality.
“It is so ironic that of all people, Anwar, who was once regarded as the most racist politician, has become the force that unites the people of this nation. God works in mysterious ways,” he added. ‘Declare Pakatan as the winner’
Among the speakers were DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, who vanquished former Johor menteri besar Abdul Ghani Othman in the battle for the Gelang Patah parliament seat, and PKR Johor chief Chua Jui Meng.
However, the night belonged to Anwar. Looking debonair in a black shirt and slacks, the fiery orator whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
“We are not interested in the Election Commission fixing the mistakes in the coming 14th general election… We want the commission to declare that Pakatan won the 13th GE!” he thundered while the crowd roared in agreement.
“Look at the popular votes. We won this election. In Selangor, where Najib is the BN chairman, who vowed that he would recapture the state, Pakatan retained power with a stronger mandate,” he said.
Zeroing on the alleged electoral frauds, Anwar said there was compelling evidence to prove this.
“Bangladeshis were lining up to vote. When asked where they were from, they replied ‘Dhaka’. And to the question, ‘what are you doing here?’ They replied ‘I came to undi [vote]‘. Asked ‘who told you to undi’, they replied ‘boss’. And when asked, ‘vote for whom?’ they said ‘BN’. These foreigners were escorted by the police.
“And you want us to accept the results of this stolen elections… No way!” he stressed.
Anwar also took a swipe at the mainstream media for not reporting these issues, but added that the information had still reached the public via other mediums.
The Pakatan supremo also told the crowd that they should not let anyone tell them that BN must be given another five years.
Exhorting those present to rise up against fraudulent practices, he said: “Never in the history of mankind, have dictators, with tanks and guns, been able to stand up against the might of people power.”
“So defend your rights. This is not about Anwar… It is about the future of Malaysia and the younger generation,” he added, drawing a thunderous applause.
Noting the overwhelming presence of youths, Anwar said it was the older generation who still feared the spectre of the May 13 riots.
“But young Malaysians are different… look around you, look to your left, to your right, people of all races, this is the new Malaysian family,” he added, ending his speech with the trademark Reformasi clarion call.
While BN had managed to retain its grip on federal power due to the first-past-the-post system, Pakatan, however, secured the people’s mandate, with 51% of the voters casting their ballots for the opposition.
Apart from the allegation that foreigners were brought in to vote for BN, the opposition and election watchdogs had also cried foul over the tainted electoral roll and accused the EC of working hand in glove with the ruling coalition.
The rally in Johor Bahru was the fifth in the series of nationwide roadshow organised by Pakatan to denounce the electoral fraud. The first rally in Kelana Jaya (Selangor) on May 8 saw about 100,000 people attending. After that Anwar went to Batu Kawan (Penang), Ipoh (Perak) and Kuantan (Pahang) before coming here.