Instead of rushing home, the majority of the crowd who came opted to stay and listen to Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat colleagues talk about electoral fraud and get the latest update on the legal action Anwar and PR plan to institute against the Election Commission. The EC is widely perceived to have been guilty of helping Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno-BN coalition win the May 5 general election through unfair and dishonest means.
“We were expecting a big crowd, we prepared for that. The police and the authorities gave us good co-operation. We can plan but it is the One up there who decides. In fact, I actually had thought it might rain and tried to prepare for it. Thank God, we had a good hall and a good sound system. The people didn’t move off, they stayed put till the end and even after the rain stopped, they continued listening to the speeches of the leaders. This is something that really touches the heart. It is a marvelous spirit,” Johari Abdul, the MP for Sungei Petani, toldMalaysia Chronicle.
The rain came around 10pm, erupting suddenly and heavily. The people, who were seated on a large field, got to their feet almost in unison and in a wave-like motion, rushed for the makeshift stage built outside a covered hall.
Despite the large numbers – nearly 10,000 on the field – no one got hurt and the confusion lasted only briefly. Johari’s aides and team of volunteers seemed to know what to do and they responded quite swiftly. The situation was brought under control and within 10 minutes or so, the people were seated again albeit this time on the floor of the hall and ready to listen to more ceramahs or political lectures from the Pakatan leaders.
Key dates – 22nd, 23rd and 24th
Apart from Anwar and Johari, other Pakatan leaders who came for the Sungei Petani Black 505 rally were PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, DAP MP for Bukit Bendera Zairil Khir Johari, PKR vice president Tian Chua, Bukit Selambau assemblyman Dr R Krishnamoorthy and youth activist Badrul Hisham Shahrin aka Chegubard.
Buoyed by the huge public support for the Black 505 rallies, Pakatan leaders have minced no words attacking the Umno-BN for “stealing” their victory. They plan to hold a giant rally on June 22, where they are targeting a one-million crowd.
“Anything can happen on 22nd, 23rd and 24th (of June). We will be there (in Parliament for the oath-taking) on the 24th and also on the 25th (for the King’s speech). 22nd will be a big day where we will congregate at Padang Merbok – 505 – and we will probably begin at 12 noon,” said Johari.
“There are some who say they plan to stay overnight, camp there till 23rd, and then 24th will be the oath-taking. So this is the series of events that will take place. 22nd will be the big do. (On) 23rd, the people may want to stay and see how things are because they are expecting a lot of media to be there from all over the world, so they want to take advantage of these media and they may want to voice out their dissatisfaction over this minority government.”
Pandikar Amin & the ‘big-do’ on June 22
In the May 5 election, the Umno-BN won 133 seats in the federal Parliament versus the Pakatan’s 89. But Anwar has refused to concede defeat, claiming large-scale vote-rigging and irregularities. The majority of Malaysia’s 13 million-odd electorate appear to believe him as the Pakatan had won 51% of the total votes cast and yet could lag behind the BN by as many as 44 seats in Parliament.
The 64-year-old Anwar began the Black 505 rallies to protest the alleged biased ballot. His coalition is demanding the resignations of the Election Commission chairman and deputy chairman. They also want re-elections in some 30 ‘dubious’ seats.
Some other moves begun by Pakatan to highlight their dissatisfaction over the outcome of the country’s 13th general election include the recent boycott of a parliamentary briefing.
This has prompted Pandikar Amin, the BN Speaker in the past parliamentary session, to warn that should the Pakatan leaders boycott the official oath-taking ceremony on June 24th, he would not allow them to be sworn in at another date. Pakatan leaders would then run the risk of being dropped as elected representatives, said Pandikar, who has since been roundly condemned for his “unlawful” and “unbecoming” threat.
Tuesday’s assembly in Sungei Petani is the 12th Black 505 rally. The next will be held on Wednesday in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, followed by another on June 16 at Batu Pahat, Johor. But it is the June 22 “big do”, which will be the most closely watched.
“Exactly like this, a peaceful assembly, but larger scale – a national event – to show Malaysians and the world we will not condone cheating,” Anwar had said, referring to the June 22 rally. He made it clear it was to be a peaceful assembly and not a street protest.