Malaysia

Pakatan draws thousands to Gombak final rally, but missing 2018’s energy

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Pakatan draws thousands to Gombak final rally, but missing 2018’s energy

Supporters attend the Jelajah Mega Pakatan Harapan rally in Taman Keramat, Gombak on November 16, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

Thursday, 17 Nov 2022 1:09 AM MYT

GOMBAK, Nov 17 — Pakatan Harapan’s final major rally in Selangor here drew a huge and boisterous crowd but the thousands were visibly fewer than the mammoth turnout that flooded the Keramat AU2 football field on the eve of the 14th general election four years ago.

The location of tonight’s rally, which featured some of PH’s top leaders including its chairman and prime minister candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, was likely meant to be symbolic. The coalition had held its last push in the 2018 campaign exactly at the same spot.

The next day — May 5, 2018 — it emerged triumphant at the polls, ending Barisan Nasional rule over the country for the first time in six decades.

With voting just two days away, several polls have put the coalition as favourite to win the most seats. But none definitively predicted PH would secure the 112 seats needed to form a government by simple majority. Still, coalition leaders appeared buoyed by the positive findings.

“In three days’ time, you will begin a new life under a new leadership,” declared Mohamad Sabu, PH deputy president and Parti Amanah Rakyat chief.

“Thus, we shall never see the repeat of the Sheraton Move because the anti-hopping law will end the life of traitors,” he added, in reference to the defection of several PKR leaders that triggered a power grab and PH’s fall.

One of the key figures behind the Sheraton Move was said to be former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, which could also be the reason why the coalition had chosen Taman Keramat to hold its last grand rally in the state.

AU2 is within Gombak where incumbent Azmin, now a member of Parti Bersatu Pribumi Malaysia, is bidding to defend the seat. Malay Mail understands that Azmin remains popular in the constituency despite perception that he betrayed its voters by defecting and cooperating with Barisan Nasional leaders in a coalition government formed after the PH government collapsed.

Azmin’s contender is no lightweight. As Selangor mentri besar, Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari is accorded certain advantages. His position as the state’s chief policy maker makes him appealing to voters longing to see the constituency grow.

But the presence of PH’s heavyweight at last night’s rally may suggest that the coalition still considers the race for Gombak tough. Azmin won the Gombak seat by over 42,000 votes in 2018, eclipsing both Umno and PAS’ votes combined.

Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari delivers a political speech at the Jelajah Mega Pakatan Harapan rally in Taman Keramat, Gombak on November 16, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari delivers a political speech at the Jelajah Mega Pakatan Harapan rally in Taman Keramat, Gombak on November 16, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Stumping alongside Anwar were DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke, Malaysian United Democratic Alliances president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Mohamad and several other popular incumbents like the coalition’s Lembah Pantai and Setiawangsa candidates, Fahmi Fadzil and Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, respectively.

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On stage, PKR speakers particularly targeted Azmin. Nik Nazmi suggested the former PKR leader is power-crazy and accused him of lobbying for a senior post immediately after PH secured federal power, while Amirudin declared that last night’s large turnout to be a resounding rejection of Azmin.

“In 2018 he was afraid that he would be given a junior post so what did he do? He went around to lobby for positions,” Nik Nazmi said.

“I will never forget the sacrifice by Gombak voters and god willing I promise you that I will never betray any of you like what the previous MP did,” Amirudin said.

PH’s campaign appeared to have gained momentum in the last few days, likely fueled by the positive findings of several polls that put the coalition in a strong position. In Gombak last night, some four thousand people braved the rain and thunder to show support.

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