With the sun shining on his forehead, newly minted Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced what all Anwaristas have been longing to hear - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be pardoned by the King and he will be released as soon as possible.
Standing by his side were not only Anwar's wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the deputy PM, but also the very leaders who led those Anwaristas on the streets dodging tear gas canisters and the FRU police.
It was a true reformasi dream come true for the tens of thousands of Malaysians who went down to the streets in defiance of an authoritarian regime when Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998, ironically under Mahathir himself.
For these people, reformasi has finally arrived. They once cried because of tear gas and frustration over corruption and abuse of power, now the tears were of joy, for the reformasi leaders will now be top ministers in the cabinet, ready to reform. No more mere chants.
Mahathir, 93, has been on a roll since Pakatan Harapan won, only getting a few hours of sleep and announcing that heads must roll and 10 major reforms will be done in 100 days, as promised in the Pakatan Harapan's manifesto.
He seems to be rejuvenated with the jubilant crowds that dog him everywhere now and one crowd which he will never forget will be the one outside the gates of the Palace in Jalan Duta on Thursday night as he was sworn in.
People waved PKR flags, the symbol of the Pakatan coalition in the general election, blowing vuvuzelas and shouted "Hidup Tun" (Long Live Tun) and "Reformasi".
His argument was "If I can forgive him, what is your problem?"
This was deja vu of 18 years ago, back in early November, when a 100,000 crowd took to the Kesas Highway, only that time the people were crying out for Mahathir to step down after his sacking of Anwar over alleged sodomy charges. There were no real rally organisers, very much what it was today, only that this was a jubilant and happy crowd.
Many thought it was impossible to defeat Umno which always managed to win election after election. Yet, it took Mahathir, the very man who helmed it for 22 years, to go against it and slay the giant.
When Mahathir first crossed over to the opposition appalled at the massive corruption and abuse of power allegations levelled at then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, it was unthinkable that the opposition would actually take over Putrajaya.
However, his former deputy Anwar, desperate for someone to head a tattered opposition, decided to team up with Mahathir – his nemesis from the past and work together and take on Barisan Nasional at the polls.
Anwar had to convince his sceptics that reconciliation with Mahathir was possible, necessary and workable, all this from behind bars. His argument was "If I can forgive him, what is your problem?".
Mahathir decided that this was a second chance for him to right his wrongs when he was PM 15 years ago. He worked hard to go down to the ground to reach out to rural Malays, beseeching them to save the nation.
He brought with him the message that greed, corruption has taken over Umno and the country needed to be save.
Najib, on the other hand, knew very well that he faced a formidable opponent. After all, Mahathir was his sifu and the true master never teaches everything he knows.
While Mahathir pleaded to the inner conscience of Malaysians, namely Malays, to oust Umno and BN, Najib dug deeper into the coffers of the nation to bait the fixed bank of rural voters.
He even banned the face of Mahathir on the billboards but this backfired as the blacked out pictures of Mahathir became more prominent. Mahathir called for a checkmate and BN retaliated with traditional moves on the board.
While Mahathir made sure the four parties - DAP, PKR, Amanah and Bersatu - in the Pakatan Harapan coalition stayed united and refrained from bickering, he also had to stave off PAS which started to mount an attack, to the point of locking him out of the grave of the late Datuk Seri Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, however, failed to stem the tide of support for Pakatan and despite much backing from BN, PAS decided to go on their own.
Despite the abundance of goodies thrown by Umno to voters, Umno refused to realise the discontent of the people over Goods and Services Tax, abuse of power and and the creeping rise in the cost of living. Big Umno guns such former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim too joined forces with Mahathir.
Incidents during nomination day such as the disqualification of Tian Chua from the candidates’ list to contest the Batu parliamentary seat despite a High Court judgement, as well as the violent restraining of Rantau potential candidate Dr S Streram drew voter sympathy.
Ministers made arrogant and silly statements which further antagonised and alienated voters. Former Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Nur Jazlan, who said postal voters do not matter, was one for the first big guns to fall in the election when he lost Pulai. Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahidi too made the wrong move when he announced that he is bringing back Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil into the cabinet should BN win.
Shahrizat was mired deep in the National Feedlot Corporation scandal which also led to her losing her Lembah Pantai seat in 2008.
While Pakatan Harapan leaders appealed to the people to show their power at the ballot box, Umno continued their old game.
The final nail in the coffin for Umno’s 61 years was the finale campaign speech of the former Prime Minister Najib. He stated that all below 26 years of age will have their income tax waived, there will be two days of holidays for the people to prepare for the fasting month and there will be no toll for five days during Hari Raya Puasa. The people asked, how many aged 26 year olds and below, have enough income to be taxed? Only five days of no toll? Don't we already have enough public holidays, they further asked.
On the other side of the country, Mahathir pressed on the theme that Najib believed 'cash is king' and that it was time for the Malays to regain their pride as a nation which will not sell its soul for wealth. He said enough is enough or the country will be bankrupted if the people do not rise to vote.
By then, it was obvious by the massive crowds that thronged Pakatan ceramahs that the fixed bank of rural voters for Umno had been broken into. Soon enough, the very next day, SPR's poor handling of the election process contributed to the BN demise at the polls.
For the first time in history of the country, the voters voted for change peacefully - and decided that it is time for Mahathir to return to right his wrongs and re-build the nation once again.
The people now await for true reformasi, as promised.
2 / 3
Free articles leftSubscribe now