SABAK BERNAM: A nationwide roadshow about 1MDB or ‘1Malaysia Dalam Bahaya’ (1Malaysia In Danger) got off to a lukewarm start with a ceramah attended by about 500 instead of the thousands expected.
With many notable figures including parliamentary opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali, and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin billed as speakers, initial assumption was that it would be a massive affair attended by thousands.
In reality less than 500 people turned up, barely filling even a third of the mini stadium.
The roadshow is aimed at people in rural and semi-urban areas, to inform them about the scandals surrounding government investment arm 1Malaysia Development Berhad and how that would affect the daily lives of ordinary Malaysians.
However, those who came to listen appeared less than enthusiastic. FMT spoke to many of those present, who said they failed to see how 1MDB had anything to do with them.
This was perhaps why most chose to spend their Friday night on other activities rather than listen to speeches about a matter “they don’t even understand.”
“I just came to see Muhyiddin. It’s not often that people like me get to see him,” said 31-year-old Nur Asyikin Abdul Rashid. “But honestly, I don’t really understand this whole 1MDB issue. Besides, didn’t the RM2.6 billion which they said were taken from 1MDB actually come from the Saudi government?”
Another ceramah-goer, Muhammad Asdi, 44, said he was only at the event because it was near his house.
“I wish the opposition would start speaking more about how they can help improve our lives and welfare. But they are always repeating the same thing.
“It’s always about 1MDB or Anwar Ibrahim. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Anwar is a victim of dirty politics, but they’re so consumed on avenging him that our needs are no longer a priority.”
(Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is serving a five-year jail sentence on a sodomy charge.)
Yesterday being the 18th anniversary of Anwar’s sacking as deputy premier in 1998, the three main speakers made it a point to remind the public of the injustice inflicted upon him.
A big part of their speeches also centered on the need for unity among opposition members in order to oust Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional government, whom they accused of being corrupt.
However the same issues they raised were much the same as those raised over the past year. The people of Sabak Bernam also appeared to be as unimpressed as voters in Sarawak in May, when opposition candidates suffered losses to the Barisan Nasional.
“Why don’t they talk about other issues? Like how they plan to help the youth get jobs, or how to increase our income in line with the current cost of living,” said Jamaluddin Abdul Hamid, 52.
“To me and my family, that is more important than the issue of corruption which has been the practice since (former premier) Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time.”
“The Opposition in Penang, and even Azmin have been accused of corruption and abuse of power as well.”
The next stops on the roadshow are: Malacca (Sept 25), Sabah (Sept 30), Pahang (Oct 2) and Perak (Oct 15).