February 27, 2008 – Mentakab was buzzing with anticipation of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit for an opposition rally. I am not a fan of Anwar but curiosity got the better of me and I just had to attend this rally.
There was no way that I could stay at home when the only man who had caused Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed endless nightmares, would be speaking blocks away.
When I arrived at the rally point, two red lions greeted the crowd amidst of Keadilan flags bearers and deafening drums. The crowd was about 3,000 strong and I was pleasantly surprised with the composition of about 40% Indians, 30% Malays and 30% Chinese. The lions continued to entertain the crowd for about 15 minutes before Anwar arrived in a convoy of cars.
The crowd cheered enthusiastically and surged forward to greet Anwar. The minders brought the crowd under control and guided Anwar to the entrance of the Opposition centre where Anwar started to speak but no one could see him nor hear him. After some prompting from the crowd, Anwar stood on a chair and the crowd erupted in applause. The organizers also adjusted the PA system then and we could finally hear Anwar.
Anwar’s first words were that if they win the election, they will reduce petrol prices on March 9. He went on further that when he was the Finance Minister, petrol prices were stable and there were no price increases. He claimed that petrol prices only started to increase after he was removed as the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
Anwar also stressed that the most important thing is education and he will make sure that each and every child will have free education all the way to the universities.
He admitted that he was part of UMNO but after what happened to him and what he has seen happening over the years, he is now totally convinced that racial politics will never be able to unite a country and will never work long term.
Anwar said that he has been asked many times whether his motive for getting back to politics was to get back at Dr. M. and which he replied that he has made peace with himself and with God. Anwar said that he has forgiven Dr. M. for he has done to him. He also said that Dr. M was no longer the Prime Minister and he was only an old man. Anwar stressed that what was important was what laid ahead.
Anwar also touched on many other issues in his 35 minutes speech. He talked about the judicial system which is controlled by the government, the gangster related police force, the rampant corruption, the many mega projects which cost millions and millions, the destruction of Indian temples and the calling of an early election to prevent him from competing amongst others.
He also tried playing the clown by doing some voice impersonation of Samy Vellu, Lingam and Pak Lah. He also tried to interject Chinese words and Tamil words in his speech. Lastly he tried drawing the impression that Keadilan, DAP and PAS is working well together.
At the end of his speech, Anwar left in a hurry as he had to rush to Kuantan for another rally.
I was left disappointed as I had expected much more from Anwar. He did a credible public speaking job but failed to deliver where it mattered most; touching the heart of the people.
All he did was rush through the popular current issues which were plaguing the public. Any enthusiasm from the crowd was more self induced from either the loyalty of the opposition members or from the pure frustration of the common public who had a bone to pick with the current Pak Lah Administration.
However, I was very happy with the turnout of the crowd which had a balance mix of all races and I felt truly happy to be a Malaysian amidst this Muhibah crowd.
The highlight of the talk for me was when Anwar said that if they win the coming election, he would appoint Datuk Seri Najib to be the next Ambassador for Mongolia. Now that’s amusing!