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RANTAU, April 5 — As Barisan Nasional (BN) courts the Malay populace, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sought to convince voters here to place their trust in his party for a better future.
The comeback kid of politics told a crowd of 1,000 at Dataran Rantau here last night that his party, which was celebrating its 20th year, is testimony that there is a place for all Malaysians in the country regardless of their race and religious identities.
The celebration saw most of PKR's top leadership in attendance including former party president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, and secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution among others.
Recalling his party’s formation in 1999, Anwar said there were many who suggested membership only for Malays; but its founders decided to open its doors to all based on the principles of justice for all Malaysians.
“Many scholars, academics and politicians at the time thought it was unreasonable and unrealistic, stating that Onn Jaafar has tried it before and failed,” he said, referencing Datuk Onn Jaafar, the founder of Umno who broke away from the Malay nationalist party to form multiracial Malaya Independence Party in 1951.
“But this is a vehicle and party for all Malaysians and for the future of this country,” he said of PKR.
He added that his party survived the tide of naysayers and continues to champion reform and justice for all.
As proof, he said PKR is now the party with the largest number of members in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition with 49 MPs.
Against BN’s popular Datuk Mohamad Hasan, a three-term Rantau assemblyman and former mentri besar, Anwar said PH chose to field Dr S. Streram instead of a Malay candidate to address racial stereotypes.
“Going up against the candidate in Rantau who is the acting Umno president, a former state mentri besar for 15 years, some say it is better for us to field a Malay candidate.
“However, after much deliberation, we say it is not possible, because we as the party must keep to our word,” Anwar said.
The Port Dickson MP also dismissed the Umno-PAS narrative that Malay rights were being challenged and diminishing under the PH administration.