KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim drew a large crowd in Batu tonight as he stumped for the local Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate, P Prabakaran, addressing about a thousand of the coalition’s supporters now visibly upbeat about its prospects at the polls come Saturday.
While turnouts at political rallies are considered a fickle indicator of support, the increasing attendance at PH’s events throughout the country has fuelled a resurgent confidence as the campaign goes into the final leg.
In Batu, the crowd was boisterous. Anwar received a rock-star welcome and people shoved each other to shake his hand accompanied by chants of “Reformasi!”. Batu may be a PH stronghold but the energetic atmosphere is still something noteworthy considering the coalition’s campaign has been relatively dreary just a few days ago.
On stage, Anwar reiterates the coalition’s vision for the country. He says PH’s main goal if elected into office is to rid the government of corrupt leaders, the same pledge that landed PH’s maiden polls victory in the watershed 2018 elections.
“I promise you no more of this nonsense. No more of this giving contracts [to cronies], whatever money we make we return to the people,” he said.
Batu, one of the rare constituencies in the country where ethnic minorities form the majority, has been under PKR’s control since 2008. The ethnic Chinese and Indian voters consistently make up over half the electorate.
In 2018, Prabakaran won the seat as an independent but on the back of support from incumbent Chua Tian Chang who mobilised the PH machinery to campaign for the young politician.
The man called Tian Chua was forced to stay out of the race in 2013 because of an election law that bans someone from standing if he or she had been convicted.
Prabakaran won the seat with an overwhelming majority, beating Gerakan’s candidate by over 24,000 votes to become the youngest elected federal lawmaker later. He eventually joined PKR, the coalition’s anchor party.
Today, the PH candidate is 26. If he wins on November 19 there is a chance he will retain the record as the Dewan Rakyat’s youngest member. Prabakaran, a through-and-through Batu boy, is popular among Batu’s voters.
Some of those that Malay Mail spoke to have described the young politician as a kind man who tries his best to help when possible, most notably when Covid-19 curbs locked everyone indoors and cost people jobs. Prabakaran claimed he has spent half a million ringgit in assistance for Batu residents affected by the movement control order.
Anwar told Batu voters at tonight’s rally he is confident Prabakaran would retain the seat with a huge margin.
“You will not only make Prabakaran win but you will give him a big majority,” he said.
On the national stage, Prabakaran has pledged to back pro-people policies and eradicate corruption if he gets elected. PH leaders continue to ride on the anti-graft platform but this time directing the assault on how the two administrations that succeeded the PH government had handled the pandemic.
Anwar accused Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s leadership of poorly managing the crisis leading to a massive loss in livelihoods and a decline in civil liberties, while many of their allies were given important positions with bloated salaries.
“When we tell them to help the people, what did they do? They appointed 70 Cabinet ministers instead and gave them [fat paychecks],” he said.
With voting just three days away, several pollsters’ survey findings rate PH as the coalition that is likely to win the most share of seats relative to its rivals although it would fall short of the numbers needed to form a simple majority yet.
If the polls turn out accurate, the bloc could be forced to reach out to rivals in a bid to form a coalition government. PH would need 112 seats to form a simple majority.