Despite the confirmed attendance of influential politicians such as former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and suspended Umno Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin said nothing would come out of the gathering to push for Najib’s resignation.
“There have been many rallies, watersheds, predictions, especially last year. (There were predictions) about a no confidence vote against the prime minister, Budget 2016 not being approved, the Umno annual general assembly being a mess, and that world leaders would no longer come to Malaysia.
“But none of that actually happened,” the Umno vice-president said at a press conference at the parliament lobby.
He said: “They (Najib’s critics) might be shouting loud, but they don’t represent the voices of the majority.”
PKR MP Rafizi Ramli, commenting on this at a separate press conference, said Hishammuddin had underestimated the public and the effect of rallies and gatherings.
“I come from the 1998 generation where rallies had awakened political awareness. In fact, a lot of the Opposition MPs who are in their 30s today became politically aware thanks to the 1998, 1999 Reformasi rallies.
“To say rallies do not change anything is not entirely true as they are responsible for taking Malaysia to where it is today.”
The Pandan MP then cited several examples to prove the effectiveness of public gatherings. “We have changed a lot, including in relation to police brutality.
“Because of the sea of rallies, the government finally realised that you can’t stop the force. The more you try to, the more it will continue.”
He said this realisation was the reason why the public could now assemble freely, even when the organisers had not complied with laws on public assembly.
The March 27 gathering is organised by former law minister Zaid Ibrahim. It is a closed-door event and is expected to draw over 1,000 participants.