Malaysia’s smallest and northern-most state Perlis saw its largest-ever political rally on Monday night, with some 10,000 people packing the Pakatan Rakyat’s Black 505 gathering in downtown Kangar to greet Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, PAS deputy chief Mohamad Sabu and a host of other leaders who had trekked up the country to rally public support for their fight against electoral cheating in the recently concluded May 5 ballot.
“We continue with our fight. As I have said, the general election is not over. We are now exposing one electoral fraud after another,” the 64-year-old Anwar told the roaring crowd.
“We have to make a stand. Enough is enough.”
Monday’s rally was the first-ever Black 505 gathering held by the Pakatan in Perlis and the folk here were not disappointed. Many had come to see for themselves what has been variously described as being “a social wave”, “a phenomenon”, “a political awakening” overtaking the country.
The Black 505 rallies – the brainchild of Anwar himself – has drawn mammoth crowds all over the country. Malaysians of all races have taken part in these assemblies with gusto, abandoning their customary shyness to call out voraciously for the resignations of Prime Minister Najib Razak and the top officials of the Election Commission for allegedly cheating in the country’s 13th general election.
In Kangar, where the 11th Black 505 rally was held, it was no different. The crowd’s enthusiasm was obvious despite it being a Monday night. ”Penipuan” was the the most common response when Malaysia Chronicle asked several members of the audience why they had come to the rally.
“Inilah satu petanda orang Malaysia sudah sampai satu tahap politik yang matang (It is a sign Malaysians have become politically more matured),” was another common response.
Sustaining power, not ego trip but a fight for the very foundation of democracy
As usual, Anwar was mobbed by the crowd who rushed to greet him when he arrived, reaching out to touch him as he was made his way to the stage. Like it or not, his popularity and ability to mobilize public support is undeniable and unprecedented in Malaysian politics.
The success of the Black 505 in Kangar flies in the face of Pakatan’s critics, namely Umno, its newspapers and related news portals. The latter, in particular, have been vocal in their criticism that it was a waste of time, that the rallies were a mere puff for Anwar’s ego but a drag on public resources and time as well as being a red light for foreign investors.
Whether or not, they are speaking at the behest of their political bosses, the Umno-linked media and online portals have claimed that the Black 505 rallies were ‘not what the Malaysian people want from their Opposition’.
What do Malaysians want of their Opposition then, if not to fight for the most basic fundamental – a cleaned-up polls system that would ensure who got the greatest votes became the government as desired by the most number of people? Otherwise, how could the Opposition ever become the government and translate into action the policies they envisioned and promised the people?
Pakatan leaders, in rebutting the claims against them, point to the massive crowds that keep coming back for more. They point to the 51% of the Malaysian people who voted for them but were denied of a Pakatan federal government due to the electoral fraud, which includes widespread gerrymandering.
In their speeches, Anwar, Mat Sabu, PKR vice president Tian Chua and MP for Sungai Petani Johari Abdul all made it clear that Black 505 will continue until the Election Commission chairman and deputy chairman stood down and re-elections held in the seats where evidence of fraud had been found and were the strongest.
Those would be the first essential steps for the people to reclaim their ownership of the electoral system, which unless is reformed, would ensure that Umno-BN remained in power in perpetuity, the Pakatan leaders said.
“Today Kangar, tomorrow Sungei Petani and the day after Kota Bahru and on the 16th Batu Pahat,” Anwar announced.
“And on the 22nd June, a major rally in Kuala Lumpur. Exactly like this, a peaceful assembly, but larger scale – a national event – to show Malaysians and the world we will not condone cheating.”
Ada orang nak ‘bunuh’ Zahid: Dr M out to destroy Zahid?
Mat Sabu, who is in the process of completing a post-mortem of his own party’s performance in the general election, promised transparency and offered re-elections to Umno-BN in Pakatan-won seats so long as they showed proof.
“Yes, we hear what Umno is saying about our reps who have been sworn-in in Penang and Kelantan. Sure, if you (Umno-BN) have proof, show and you can also request for re-elections,” said Mat Sabu, who together with Tian received loud applause for their oratorical skills.
Youth activist Badrul Hisham Shaharin aka Chegubard, who heads the Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, was another popular speaker.
The 35-year-old had the crowd clearly on his side as he rattled through the list of reasons why Malaysians must stand up to the polls fraud he claimed had been perpetuated by the Umno -BN..
Chegubard also had the crowd in stitches with his witty remarks and the way he regained his poise after flubbing a line meant to attack former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
“Ini bukan kubu Umno, ini kubur Umno (this is not Umno’s fortress but Umno’s grave),” said Chegubard.
He repeated his warning to Home Minister Zahid Hamidi to be careful of Najib and Mahathir, whom he claimed were out for Zahid’s ‘blood’.
“Zahid, you are actually a leader with charisma but you are being trapped by Najib and Mahathir,” said Chegubard, referring to the intensifying infighting in Umno ahead of its internal polls due to be held later this year.
“Mahathir wants to ‘bunuh’ (destroy) Zahid so that his son can take over,” he added.