KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands braved a heavy downpour to listen to Malaysia’s opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad speak at a rally in the capital on Sunday (May 6) as he called for voters to turn out in large numbers in a “people’s tsunami’ to beat the ruling government.
“We must win big. If we just win by 200-300 votes, there will be cheating and manipulation - and we won't win,” said 92-year-old Mahathir to loud applause. “We want to win by a 10,000, 20,000 majority.
"All of us have to come out to vote in big numbers, not just the Chinese, the Malays, but everyone. The people of Malaysia need to show that there is a people's tsunami in this country."
The rally was attended by all the top leaders of the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, including Parti Keadilan Rakyat stalwarts Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Selangor chief minister Azmin Ali.
Also in attendance were former finance minister Daim Zainuddin and former trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz.
Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister whose 22-year reign ended in 2003, has crisscrossed the country in a gruelling election campaign, speaking at rallies which often end close to midnight.
“God willing, we will see a change in government on May 9. The prime minister to come can only rule for two terms, unlike my time when I was prime minister for five terms,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
“The future prime minister will no longer be able to appoint the Inspector-General of Police, the Attorney-General, high ranking officers in the civil service."
Pakatan Harapan is facing multi-cornered fights in many constituencies, with the crucial Malay vote expected to be split by the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS).
PAS was part of the opposition coalition - then known as the Pakatan Rakyat - at the 2013 general election but has since broken away to contest on its own and is seen to be leaning towards the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Pakatan Harapan received a much-needed boost from former PAS member, Nik Omar, son of the revered late leader Nik Aziz, who urged the crowds to vote for the opposition via a recorded video.
“This election is the best opportunity for us to change the course of the country that we love to one which is capable of providing welfare to all citizens regardless of their race or religion," said Nik Omar.
“I urge all voters to make the best decision, which is to choose Pakatan Harapan on election day to save this nation and country."
Pakatan Harapan's coalition partner Amanah Party's president Mat Sabu has urged the head of police and the military to respect whatever outcome of the elections to ensure there is no chaos.
“I hope the head of the police, military and all high ranking civil service personnel will accept the results of the people," he said.
"Respect democracy that if we take over the government democratically, constitutionally, there will be no chaos."