PORT DICKSON, Oct 8 — People came out today in droves to watch Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stump for foe-turned-friend Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Port Dickson by-election that is aimed at catapulting the PKR president-elect into Dewan Rakyat and, eventually, the PM’s post.
By 9pm, a crowd in the upwards of 2,000 people had already shown up and taken their seats under the canopy here near the Port Dickson waterfront.
Braving the rain with their umbrellas, eager supporters were not the only ones who came out for the ceramah, as clothes, food and book vendors had also set up shop along the adjacent sidewalks, attracting crowds throughout the evening.
Motivated by the many speeches made during the ceramah, with speakers ranging from Transport Minister Anthony Loke to Parti Amanah Negara chairman and Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, those present were constantly kept in high spirits.
Local voters here expressed their anticipation of witnessing possibly a historic moment of Dr Mahathir stumping for Anwar, amid speculation of “quarrels” between the two that the prime minister said had motivated him to campaign for his successor.
Some also related how watching Dr Mahathir declare public support for Anwar was the equivalent of checking off one of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto promises, which had declared Anwar as the prime minister-in-waiting.
Some had even come from as far away as Alor Gajah, Melaka. Lorry driver S. Vijayan, 45, made the trip just to witness Dr Mahathir and Anwar share the same stage.
“Even though I am not a voter here, but considering their history since 1998, I had to come and see it for myself.
“Yes, I am excited to witness it, as it’s something I never thought I would see happen,” he said.
Anwar, then finance and deputy prime minister, was fired by Dr Mahathir in 1997 and convicted a year later for sodomy.
Local boy and technician Azwan Samsuri, 32, said he felt it was a good move for Dr Mahathir to come down to the ground during the campaign as it instilled voter confidence in the integrity of the PH government.
“It is good, but the prime minister has to follow their manifesto promises, so this is them fulfilling one of them,” he said.
Azman, when asked, felt the independent candidates did not stand a chance in the by-election, insisting at least five of the seven candidates would lose their deposits.
“There are many rumours going around to discourage voters from even coming out to vote, but realistically, I feel the winner is going to be very obvious. The rest are fighting a losing battle,” he said, referring to Anwar’s chances.
Fellow local voter only identified as Azhar, 32, said he was excited to see history in the making, something the nation has been waiting for at least 20 years to witness.
“I hope Anwar won’t just win, but win big in this by-election as we have been waiting for so long to have him back in government, as promised during the general election campaign,” he said.
Dr Mahathir arrived at the Port Dickson waterfront at 10.10pm.
Anwar is in a seven-cornered fight for the Port Dickson parliamentary seat in Negri Sembilan.