Yes, it was another easy victory for Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat team. The 50,000-odd crowd at the Seremban Blackout 505 rally on Friday night was only too happy to lap up their speeches, and Prime Minister Najib Razak should take note that when Anwar asked, “should we give BN another 5 years”, the crowd roared back “NO WAY!”‘
So great is Anwar’s and Pakatan’s hold on the people that they have become superstars. On arrival, they are mobbed and at the end of theceramah (rally), the crowd rushes up to the stage to take photos with their favourite Pakatan leaders and to get their autographs.
Tonight, apart from Anwar who as always got the loudest cheers, it was Nik Nazmi, the PKR assemblyman for Seri Setia, who got the hero’s welcome, while stealing the show was Johari Abdul, the PKR MP for Sungei Petani.
Nik Nazmi was this morning charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act for failing to give 10 days notice to the police before holding the mammoth Suara Rakyat Suara Keramat rally (the first in the Blackout 505 series) at the Kelana Jaya stadium in Selangor on May 8.
He is the first PR leader to be charged but with Prime Minister Najib Razak expected to go all out to suppress public support for Anwar and PR, observers believe there will be many more leaders who will suffer the same fate.
Shoddy organization and incompetence
The crowd’s complete lack of fear and implicit trust in in the PR is clear to see but this has also become a double-edged sword, for the responsibility heaped upon the Pakatan is now greater than before. As they call on the people to rally together and reject the results of the tainted 13th general election, it is also incumbent on Anwar and team to reciprocate by ensuring public safety.
Blackout 505 has taken on a life of its own and Anwar and PR are no longer mere Opposition leaders but mega-stars capable of drawing tens of thousands to their gatherings. Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and even Psy would go green with envy at the PR’s star appeal. And this is why it is imperative that the Blackout 505 gatherings are professionally managed if they are to be continued. The rallies should not be left alone to be handled by overzealous and rather ignorant volunteers from the state level, whose sole idea of public security is to yell “duduk duduk” at the people and media.
For example at Friday night’s rally, the PKR state chief should be made to answer as to why there was no cordoned-off area for the press and the guest-speakers? Why were members of the crowd allowed to come right up to the stage? Where was the space for the press and camera crew? What if there had been a stampede or trouble? Really, it doesn’t always need agent provocateurs to create trouble. Very often, all it takes is an over-enthusiastic audience and a very poorly-trained team of marshals to trigger a stampede that can leave dozens injured.
These are the nuts and bolts that PKR leaders have to come to grips with if they are to continue with their rallies spree. They need to snap out from the ‘after-glow’ of their huge success and work harder to overcome sheer, shoddy and incompetent organization. The support and trust of the people are not given for free, it must be returned not just with expressions of thanks and gratitude but with real and greater professionalism. More than ever before because PR leaders have now assumed near ‘cult’ status. Safety is a basic prerequisite and should no longer be left to amateur volunteers with little or even zero training.
It’s what we can do
Be that as it may, the Seremban folk who came were oblivious to danger or risk. They only wanted one thing – to take part in Blackout 505. “It’s the only thing we can do,” a Chinese girl in her 20s told Malaysia Chronicle at the end of the ceramah. She had come with a group of friends, most of whom are working in Seremban while a few are still final-year college students.
When asked if she would come again,”Yes, I like Ubah and as much as I can, I and my family will do our part. It can be signing petitions or some small monetary contribution but we will try to show our support.”
Indeed, the star-studded PR lineup was hard to resist. Apart from Anwar, who made another stunning speech, were PAS deputy president Mat Sabu, PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub, DAP life adviser Chen Man Hin, DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke, PKR president Wan Azizah, vice president Tian Chua, communications director Nik Nazmi, Selangor assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong and Seremban PKR Youth chief Nazree Yunus.
But stealing the show was Johari. A former director of the notorious Biro Tata Negara or National Civics Bureau, he has performed the role of ‘chief emcee’ for the Blackout 505 rallies since they started on May 8. An outstanding speaker, Johari has also been instrumental in breathing oomph into the rallies, controlling and motivating the crowd with his booming voice. And tonight, he was in top form.
“Najib said ‘apa lagi Cina mau’ (what more do the Chinese want), Utusan wrote ‘apa lagi Cina mau’, Ibrahim Ali said we must boycott Chinese goods. I want to ask, are there any Malays here (in the crowd)? Any Indians? Any Chinese?” asked Johari.
He received a thunderous ”ada” or ‘yes’ to each question.
“This shows not only the Chinese reject Umno-BN but we the children of Malaysia. Let us send a clear message to Umno-BN that not just the Chinese but Malays, Kadazans and others reject Umno-BN. For more than 50 years, the Chinese, Malays and Indians supported BN but even as they grew stronger, in the end they cheated us. And now that the people have awakened, they feel under pressure and so they ask ‘what more do the Chinese want?’. Pordah, pordah, pordah (get lost, get lost, get lost). We are the children of Malaysia.
“And because 52% of us did not vote for them but for Pakatan Rakyat, an Umno leader said you can go pick another country and get out of Malaysia. Oi, who are you (to say this) , who are you you? Is this your father’s country? This is our country, this our country, this is our country. Who is this person who wants to chase us out. Oi, pordah! Oi pordah! Oi pordah!
“We know that in GE13 we won but victory was stolen from us and this is why we are gathering tonight. Enough is enough! You have cheated us, we don’t want to wait till GE14, we want today itself. Hidup rakyat (long live the people)!”
Najib takut oh!
In his 80s, Chen Man Hin – the grand old man of DAP – still found the energy to come out and join the Ubah movement.
“We are very angry. Anwar is very brave. We want him to be firm. At the moment, he is the leader of PR. One day not very far, Anwar will be PM. This is why Najib manyak goncang, takut oh, takut oh (Najib is shaking, he’s very scared, very scared). Why? because he lost and had to play dirty in order to win,” Chen told the laughing crowd.
At least 30 dubious seats: DAP will never join BN
DAP youth chief Anthony Loke told the crowd there were at least 30 dubious seats that the Pakatan wanted a review on and re-election for. He also said the Pakatan was now in process of gathering evidence and hoped to file all the election petitions sometime next month.
Anthony also had the crowd on their feet when he said DAP would never join BN, quashing rumors that it was set to replace MCA and be the new Chinese component party for the BN.
Why should we wait till GE13
And when it was Anwar’s turn to speak, the 64-year-old veteran bolstered Anthony’s list of cheating allegations with some examples of his own including in his Permatang Pauh constituency and those of his colleagues also hit by alleged fraud such as PAS deputy president Mat Sabu and vice president Salahuddin Ayub.
He also tested the sentiment of the crowd, asking them if he should – as some have suggested – wait until the next general election which could take place as far away as in 2018, or should he stick on and fight for the ‘rightful’ results of the May 5 general election.
The response was clear. No way, yelled back the crowd and cheered him on to challenge the controversial GE13 results.
“Some people say never mind, be patient, you can win the next election, the GE14, the youth are with you, you can do it. Nonsense! We have already won this election. We demand our rights,” Anwar said.
“The principle is what is stolen must be returned. You have stolen this election, we demand our right for victory in the 13th general election. BN has no more agenda.”
Anwar also took to task the Attorney General Gani Patail, warning the latter not to ‘over-abuse’ his power when going after opposition leaders, for example such as Nik Nazmi.
“Perhimpunan (rally) is not halal. Stealing timber is halal, stealing land is halal, cheating is halal, cheating voters is halal. I want to see them. I want to tell the Attorney General, stop your nonsense,” said Anwar.