Apolitical in disposition, I have had no interest in the local political scene and developments over the years, and have not bothered to cast my vote in many of the previous general elections. This changed however in the course of the last two elections when more and more negative developments (poor economic development, escalating costs of living, social injustice, lack of transparency) and news (financial scandals, kleptocracy) surfaced which led to the people’s growing negative perception and resentment/discontentment of the government. Developments which were fully capitalised by the opposition coalition party, eventually leading to a tsunami groundswell and the downfall of a government which has been in power for the last 61 years, since the independence of Malaysia. Ironically, the Pakatan Harapan (opposition coalition party) victory was masterfully led by the 93 year old Tun Dr. Mahathir, former Prime Minister who had helmed the government for 22 years before retiring in 2003.
It became more and more evident the (last) general elections was just around the corner as more and more ceramahs (hustings) were organised across the nation by the respective political parties to drum up support for the party and raise much needed funds to support their campaign. With the 14th general elections officially announced on the 10th April, campaigning and ceramah activities intensified all the way leading to election day on the 9th May.
I was keenly following the developments, ceramahs and gatherings on a daily basis online, even signed up as a PACA (polling and counting agent) volunteer to help check fraud on general elections day. One of the opposition coalition party’s rallying call was ‘the time for action is here and now’, to save the country from economic ruin and bankruptcy from all the government mismanagement and shenanigans suffered in recent years.
It was a heartening and incredible experience attending some of the perhimpunan (mass gatherings) and ceramahs in the last days to general elections day. The last Pakatan Harapan perhimpunan and ceramah I attended was a mega gathering at Hulu Klang on the 6th May with thousands attending, united, regardless of race, religion and age, braving inclement weather in a water clogged muddy field to support, hear from the candidates/party leaders and cheering them on.
As the saying goes … save the best for last; Tun Dr. Mahathir, as anchor speaker, came on last late in the night to the chants of ‘Hidup Tun’ (long live Tun) from the people. Tun has the uncanny gift to address the people like a father figure dispensing good and wise advice to his charges, and rousing them to action, as only he knows how. The response from the people were respectful and ecstatic, it left me with a strong sense of wish and hope on the night that change might indeed be possible and attainable this time round, for a new and better Malaysia after the 9th of May.
All photos from the 6th of May mega gathering at Hulu Klang, except for the second which was taken a few days earlier at another mega perhimpunan in Putrajaya.
All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 55-200mm, XF 35mm f1.4 and XF 23mm f1.4