SHAH ALAM, Sep 8 — Though small in numbers, members of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) marked the second anniversary of its founding with enthusiastic fanfare.
Crowds began gathering as early as 4pm at Stadium Malawati, with many parents bringing along their young children, perhaps due to the upcoming long weekend.
Hawkers and entrepreneurs took the opportunity to sell their wares, evenly divided between foodstuffs and paraphernalia including flags emblazoned with Pakatan Harapan and PPBM logos.
Some even traveled outstation to the stadium, mainly selling classical Malay attire such as telongkoks and kerises.
Within the stadium itself, close to 2,500 attendees filled its seats within half an hour before the event commenced, with close to 1,000 more around the outer vicinity.
Yet what they lacked in numbers they certainly made up for with political fervour for the nascent party.
Some called out encouragement as the party’s various state delegates made their entrance parade around the court.
Among the luminaries in attendance included Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Parti Warisan Sabah leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, and DAP national chairman Tan Kok Wai.
The audience’s reaction as their leaders spoke varied greatly, from raucous cheers for Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to reverent silence for PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Cries of anger and outrage could be heard throughout the stadium as well when during a video montage former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak came onscreen, their apparent hatred for the man palpable.
As the montage continued with the song Gemilang by Jaclyn Victor, the darkened stadium lit up with the lights of phones waving in unison to the melody.
Yet undoubtedly the man of the hour was party chairman and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Deafening roars of ‘Long Live Tun!’ resounded from within and without the stadium as he stood up to speak.
Appearing unusually energised, Dr Mahathir’s words were met with part near-silence, applause, and cheers.
His stern and unyielding message did not lessen the aura of respect emanating from the crowd, as they hung on to every word.
As the event wound down with a performance by the state contingents, the attendees paid little heed as many appeared to be pondering deeply what Dr Mahathir said.
But when veteran rock singer Ella sang her classic hits Bersama and Standing In the Eyes of the World the crowd regained its fervour as they sang along to the memorable lines, waving party and state flags.
Broad smiles could be seen and excited chatter heard as the attendees made their way out. Hopefully the night drove in the party leadership’s message deep into its rank-and-file.
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