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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hero's welcome for Mahathir in Penang

Fireworks lit the sky and loud cheers greeted Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he arrived at the party's Aidilfitri open house in Penang last night.
The crowd, mostly clad in red, Bersatu’s party colour, jostled and pushed one another to shake his hands and wish him “Selamat Hari Raya”.
It was quite a rare sight to see Malay Muslims clad in baju Melaju, tudung and baju kurung packed inside the Long Say building owned by the Lee Kongsi, a Chinese clan association on Jalan Burma.
But more than an Aidilfitri do, the event was to give Mahathir a hero’s welcome for his effort in pulling together Pakatan Harapan, which on July 14, announced its leadership line-up ahead of the upcoming 14th national polls.
Visibly excited, the crowd tailed Mahathir to the main table where DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Chow Kon Yeow, and Bersatu’s president Muhyiddin Yassin were already seated.
Many tried to take photos and selfies with the “famous Tun” but the latter was surrounded by his bodyguards, prompting a photographer to remark, “It’s easier to cover (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak).”
Kit Siang had arrived earlier at the venue with his DAP entourage and was also greeted by loud cheers from Bersatu members.
Chief Minister cum DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had to push his way through the thick crowd to get to the main table and remarked, “There is a traffic jam just to get here”.
Cameras clicked away as many watched in awe when Mahathir, seated beside his wife Dr Siti Hasmah, shook hands with Kit Siang and Guan Eng, flanked by Muhyiddin, PKR state chief Mansor Othman and Penang Bersatu chairperson Marzuki Yahya.
Mahathir’s son, former Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz, and Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa were also present, while DAP and PKR MPs and assemblypersons joined the event in full force.
'I did it my way'
It was a festive and carnival-like atmosphere, with a Boria performance promoting unity thrown in, while a live band sang Mahathir's favourite song, "I did it my way".
But amidst the merriment, Mahathir did not forget his mission - to unseat Najib.
Although appearing exhausted and not his usual cheeky self, the 92-year old doctor went on for 20 minutes to condemn Najib's leadership, and each salvo drew applause from the audience.
"We want to unseat him not because we want to be PM to steal the people's money so we can buy diamonds for our wives, we want to get rid of Najib so that we can save Malaysia and reduce the people’s burden."
Meanwhile, a check by Malaysiakinirevealed many senior citizens such as Aishah Mohamad (photo), who was among the 2,000-odd crowd, came to catch a glimpse of Mahathir or to hear him speak.
“He is my idol, I feel happy to see him today but there are too many people that I was unable to see him up close,” lamented the 76-year-old housewife who lives near the venue on Jalan Perak.
She smiled broadly when her son pointed out that she had recently become a Bersatu member.
"I used to tell my family and friends to vote for Barisan Nasional even though I was never a party member.
“I am tired now of seeing what this country has become that I no longer watch the national TV. I hope Harapan can bring some changes,” Aishah said, as her eyes lit up.
Spotted in his usual traditional baju Melayu and songkok, Salleh Yahya (right in photo), a heritage activist from Tanjong Tokong, told Malaysiakini, “I am here to see the government-in- waiting.”
Salleh, a retired teacher in his 60s, said he harboured much hope in Harapan but the coalition needs to reach out to the Malays in the rural areas to explain to them why they should vote for the opposition and not BN.
“The sad part is Malays in the rural areas are sometimes disillusioned, as they feel that this new Harapan government will be no different from BN.
“The policies involving their social economic lives, land, and housing have not changed, people are still struggling and are being asked to vacate their homes for development,” Salleh decried.
Many youths were present, and for Cindy Tan (far left in photo), she was “quite excited but equally nervous” to meet Mahathir.
“I’m nervous because I never met a big shot like him before,” she said.
“This is the first time I’ve met him, I’ve only read about him in history books,” said Cindy, who at 21, is one of the youngest members of the village and security development committee in Kebun Bunga.
Meanwhile, Dalbinder Singh, 27, a nephew of the late DAP leader Karpal Singh, said youths wished to see more “principled politicking”, and expressed surprise that DAP was able to forgive Mahathir who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years.

The Lims, along with many other DAP, NGO and student leaders, were detained under the draconian Internal Security Act during Mahathir's era.
“Is it really for the country or for themselves - that is the question which remains unanswered in the long run,” he said.
“Tangkap (arrest) Najib? So is Mahathir an angel? I am amazed to see the presence of DAP and PKR in full force to support a party that does not even accept non-bumiputeras into its membership,” he said. - Mkini

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