Current Affairs

“I love new PM Anwar” banners held up at Dong Zong event

PThe amended “I love PM” banners being held up by the attendees upon Anwar’s arrival at the Dong Zong open house.

KAJANG, 17 Feb – During what could be Malaysia’s most politically charged Chinese New Year festivities — observed on the verge of the country’s expectedly tightest-fought general election — many surprises were in store, most strikingly for the Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Having to take a walk of shame out of Penang after putting a disastrous show that involved a million-ringgit invitation of the South Korean sensation, Psy, Najib was set for more surprises — staged by none other than Malaysians themselves.

Najib and his entourage’s attendance to a Chinese New Year open house hosted by the Chinese educationist group Dong Zong was reported to have received a ‘lukewarm’ response. The lackluster reception was even more striking, given the ‘historic’ occasion as Najib is the first Prime Minister to grace the Dong Zong open house since its formation.

According to a report by Malaysiakini, some of the attendees had instead ‘mischievously’ amended the “I love PM” banners addressed to Najib, to “I love new PM Anwar” instead, adding the words ‘new’ and ‘Anwar’ to the already pervasive banners usually handed out at events with Najib’s presence.

The attendees did so in showing support for the arrival of the Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who also showed up at the event one hour after Najib took his leave.

Anwar, who is Pakatan Rakyat’s choice for the prime ministerial post, was greeted with loud cheers upon his appearance at the event, with chants of ‘reformasi’ heard from the crowd.

Anwar arrived at the event along his wife, PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PAS Vice-President Mahfuz Omar and joined by DAP Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang.

People used markers to amend banners in support of Anwar

The amended banners were seen unfurled during Anwar’s presence at the open house, with the supporters gleefully displaying their support for Malaysia’s prime minister-to-be.

Dong Zong, also known as United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia, has held the open house at its headquarters here, inviting both Najib and Anwar to join the celebrations for the Year of the Snake with the association’s members and supporters.

In his speech delivered in the presence of Anwar, Dong Zong’s chairperson Dr Yap Sin Tian wished that “everything will change” this New Year, extending his hope that “everyone can support Dong Zong so we that can achieve our objectives.”

Dr Yap’s speech, however, drew boos from likely Pakatan Rakyat supporters in the crowd, when he ‘expressed appreciation’ for Najib’s earlier attendance at the open house.

Dong Zong has faced remarkable odds with the ruling BN-led government especially in the recent years. Dong Zong has been persistently demanding the government’s approval to build independent Chinese independent schools in Kuantan and Segamat through series of protests — held as recent as September last year outside the Parliament while it was in session, as well as on November 2012 in Petaling Jaya.

In its invitation letter to Najib, Dong Zong had come up with three demands, namely: to recognize the United Exanimation Certificate (UEC), to have more Chinese independent schools created, and to have a review of the National Education Blueprint.

Najib did not announce anything

Neither Najib nor Anwar gave out any speeches during their appearances at the association’s open house. Najib, whom many expected to turn up at the Dong Zhong event bearing ‘gifts’ — to announce the recognition of the UEC, at least — did not mutter a word about giving anything during his 45-minute visit.

Commenting on whether Dong Zong is disappointed or otherwise with the prime minister’s unabashed zero announcement, Dr Yap merely smiled and replied: “What do you think?”

Najib is heralded as the first Malaysian premier to officially attend any Dong Zong event, something billed by observers and the association itself as ‘a historic moment’.

Together with the machinery of his Barisan Nasional coalition, Najib has been especially eager to court the potential votes of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese, whose support for the UMNO-dominated BN has been ahead of the polls. — The Rocket

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