AT 92, Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s appeal is still strong, capturing the attention of the mixed crowd who had gathered in the Johor Baru suburb of Tampoi, Johor, since 7.30pm last night to listen to him.

About 1,000 people turned up for the launch of Johor Pakatan Harapan despite having to sit on chairs placed on a field which had turned muddy after a heavy downpour the previous night.

“My feet are dirty. But it is okay. I can wash them. At least I get to be here to watch Dr Mahathir and listen to what he has to say” said Mustajar Ahmad.

He had rolled up his trousers all the way to his knees to avoid them from getting muddied before he took his seat at the centre of the field.

Determined not to miss anything, the 80-year-old pursed his lips and pointed to the stage with his index finger when pressed for more answers.

Sixty-year-old Salman Rahman, from Majidee, said this was one of the rare opportunities for him to get information “straighåt from the horse’s mouth” rather than government-controlled media.

“We have to listen to the views others besides watching TV and reading the newpapers that are controlled by one party. Only then we are able to make the right choice,” he said.

He was an Umno man who left the party as he felt that grassroots leaders were no longer interested in listening to members’ grouses.

Unlike others, Salman did not cheer as much but kept nodding his head as he listened to the former prime minister.

“I can accept 80% of what he said. Will Johor fall to PH? I cannot say for sure, but Johor Umno is divided. It is no longer as strong as before,” he added.

For Wong Chong Seng, who has been living in Kempas all his life, he too wanted to listen to DAP’s former enemy.

“He wants to work with DAP, so I want to know what he has to say,” said the 57-year-old.

There were also those who came all the way from Skudai and Majidee to listen to the talk.

Dr Mahathir took the stage for nearly an hour, talking about Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor, the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal and how change was needed to bring Malaysia back to its former glory.

He was, as usual, accompanied by his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.

Despite having stepped down 14 years ago, the Bersatu and PH chairman was greeted with kompang and  supporters who chanted his name amid shouts of “Long live Dr Mahathir”.

Also present at the launch were top PH leaders and Johor PH chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.

Tampoi, where the talk and launch took place last night, is in the Kempas state seat, which is part of the Pulai parliamentary constituency.

In the last general election, Kempas was won by BN while the other state seat, Pengkalan Rinting was won by DAP.

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed has retained the Pulai seat for three terms since 2004. The Pulai seat has been Umno’s domain since 1974.