IT was a cold night with blustering winds accompanied by intermittent rain, against the backdrop of the KL Sea Games football semifinal between Malaysia and Indonesia, in Kuala Terengganu.
But neither the 23°C temperature nor the match football could deter a small but vociferous crowd of 500 from attending to the opposition’s “Love Malaysia, End Kleptocracy” ceramah at Pasar Chabang Tiga.
Huddled under huge umbrellas when the rain was light and taking cover in the covered market when it was heavy, the crowd hung on until Amanah’s Husam Musa had finished speaking.
Husam was the final speaker after DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.
But was the crowd convinced that Malaysia needed saving or that Pakatan Harapan is the saviour?
Scandal, rule of law, and state of the economy
“Malaysian need to be saved in the country that is currently buried under a tonne of scandals,” said 54-year-old Mat Zan Aris.
“We need to be saved from the abuse of power and the people need to restore the rule of law. Nobody should be above the law,” said the Kuala Terengganu resident.
KC Chan, who turned up with two friends, said the country had too much debt and needed new leaders who could overhaul the system.
“The debts we are going to have to repay China for the East Coast Rail Link are going to cripple the country,” said the Terengganu voter.
Another Terengganu resident who wanted to be known as Ahmad Bakri said that the government’s optimism about the state of the economy confounded him.
“If the economy is so good, why has the Ringgit declined so much in comparison to Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore?” said the 53-year-old.
He blamed the national leaders for problems plaguing the nation.
“They talk as people in power and not as people who have been given power. Voters can give them power and we can take it away,” he added.
It was reported that since 2008, the Ringgit has dropped 27.7% while Singapore, Thailand and South Korean currencies appreciated by 6.8%.
Counting on Dr Mahathir
For visiting consultant Christopher Loh, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s presence in PH gave him confidence.
“He has experience in governing the country and he put us on the world map. The current leader has also put us on the map. But for the wrong reasons,” said the Selangor voter.
“We were once known as a tiger economy but where are we now?” he asked.
For Ahmad, it is a case of “anything is better than what we have now”.
“We have to change the government for the sake of Malaysians. They are destroying the country with race and religious politics.
“During Dr Mahathir’s time, the different races mixed freely and joked with one another. But we don’t do that anymore as the government has pitted us against one another.”
Mat Zan, however, cautioned that PH still had a lot to do to convince voters in Terengganu.
“There are still a lot of hardcore supporters in Umno and PAS in Terengganu. They remain blind to the facts even when proof is given to them. If PH wants to win, it will need to attract these hardcore voters.”
PH does have its work cut out in Terengganu, which is traditionally a PAS and Umno stronghold.
But on this freezing night, the coalition is warmed by the support it has received in Pasar Chabang Tiga.