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Mar 2, 2008

Anwar turns on the heat

Anwar addresses the crowd at PKR Taman Merak operations centre yesterday

BATU KAWAN (March 1, 2008): It was close to mid-day in Taman Merak, a mixed residential area in Bukit Tambun, and the sun was at its highest.

Despite the stifling heat, some 500 people had gathered at the Parti Keadilan Rakyat operations centre in a shophouse for the arrival of PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. When he arrived and made his way to the podium, some moved forward to greet him.

In his 30-45 minute-long speech in Bahasa Malaysia - with some Mandarin and Tamil phrases thrown in for impact - the charismatic politician kept his audience amused and entertained, as he sought to deliver his message to vote for change.

It was "Vaanakam" to welcome the largely Indian community and "Ni hao ma" to the Chinese who were the second largest majority.

He then spoke on the top issues of the day and made promises - fuel price reduction, and the release of the five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who are being detained under the Internal Security Act.

The audience cheered him on as he spoke about Makkal Sakti, the Chinese traders feeling left out, keris-raising, Hindraf demonstrations and demolishing of temples.

"Makkal is people and Sakti refers to power. This is our message: that power be returned to the Malays, Chinese and Indians and not given to the ministers who are orang sombong (snobs)."

"We have to teach them a major lesson after 50 years of independence. If the government is really good, they will say: 'Vangge! Okkarungga! Sollungga enna problem (Come! Sit down! Tell me what your problems are)," he said to laughs.

He also made references to the role of Sivaji - the Boss (an Indian movie starring Rajinikanth, about fighting corruption, which was screened recently).

On the economy, Anwar said the Chinese did not feel recognised in the trading sector and while the government spoke about Malays benefitting from New Economic Policy projects, "many are still neglected and are not enjoying the benefits".

He also spoke on the grouses of the Indians, saying that all the communities must be looked after.

"If we win on March 8, on March 9, we will find proof of an offence against the (Hindraf) five, if there is none, we shall release them.

"If we win on March 8, on March 9, the entire country will see a fuel price reduction benefitting teachers, estate workers and even the police who will feel better about looking after our safety," he said.

He took care to point out that in his eight years as the Finance Minister, there was no rise in fuel prices.

Anwar pooh-poohed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's claim that if fuel price was reduced, the country would be bankrupt.

"When fuel price is reduced, everything else is reduced and this helps people," he said, adding that a country went bankrupt when public funds were siphoned off by people in public office.

He reminded the people that it would be their own fault if they did not vote wisely.

He noted that the BN was dishing out "gifts". To this he said: "Take whatever and however much it is because it is your money but when you vote, vote wisely."


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