GEORGETOWN, Feb 17 –Nurul Nuha Anwar received a standing ovation and cheers when she arrived at her first ceramah in Penang last night. The crowd of more than 500 people stood up and clapped when they saw her walk into the Han Chiang school hall, where a tribute was being held for her father.
PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, who was addressing the crowd, had to stop when Nurul Nuha, the second daughter of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, walked in. They cheered loudly, drowning out Mohamad, better known as Mat Sabu. Nurul Nuha, the soft-spoken 31-year-old, stumbled a little at the beginning of her maiden speech in Penang, her father’s home state, but the crowd cheered her on.
She began by telling the crowd she had a message from her father. “I send my Papa’s greetings to all of you in Penang… he asks that you do not despair, and not give up the fight against corruption, tyranny and oppression. “He is still in high spirits and we hope you will pray for him and help him keep the struggle alive.
“Papa is detained because he speaks the truth and he fights against the regime… his message is clear. We will fight until we have a better country,” she said, adding that her family missed Anwar, his voice, jokes and hugs. She paused a while to ask for some water. Nurul Nuha then told the crowd that she was no politician and did not have the stamina to give long speeches.
Nurul Nuha, who heads the “March to Freedom” campaign to free Anwar, also urged the people to join the campaign and send postcards with messages of encouragement to her father in the Sungai Buloh prison. “This campaign is not just to free my father. It is also to free all from injustice,” she said.
Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison last week after failing to overturn his sodomy conviction. Without a royal pardon, he will lose his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat. DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said Malaysia had gone backward with Anwar’s second sodomy conviction.
He urged the people to use their democratic power to save Anwar by taking Barisan Nasional out of Putrajaya in the next general election. “That is our battle cry. Topple Umno, topple BN and free Anwar Ibrahim,” Lim told the crowd. “He will carry out his destiny to be the prime minister of Malaysia,” he said at the “Solidarity with Anwar” tribute.
To achieve that, he said all Pakatan Rakyat leaders have the duty to save PR and keep the coalition together. DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the Permatang Pauh by-election, which would take place when Anwar is disqualified as MP, would not be easy. He urged the people to teach BN a lesson in the polls and give Anwar victory. “It won’t be easy but we will work hard and persevere,” he said, also warning that Umno would try to split PR.
Mat Sabu said PR had lost three leaders in less than a year – DAP national chairman Karpal Singh who was killed in an accident in April, Anwar who was sent to prison last Tuesday, and PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who died at age 84 last Thursday. “Without them, will PR fall? No! “Umno keeps playing up this story because they know if PR falls, they will be safe. If we are united, out you go, BN.”
Mat Sabu said BN was in trouble with its main component parties Gerakan, MCA and MIC losing their ground. “Nik Aziz said years ago that without MCA and MIC, Umno itself will be finished. “Umno’s weapon is racism… apa Cina mau, boycott peniaga Cina (what more do the Chinese want, boycott Chinese traders),” he said.
Mat Sabu warned the people that falling for Umno’s racist games would only give the party life. “In the Permatang Pauh by-election, Umno will play the race card again. “PAS will work hard. PAS will support PKR’s candidate whoever the party decides to field,” he said as the majority-Chinese crowd applauded him.