KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — It’s ironic: talk of a unity government almost tore them apart but last night Pakatan Rakyat (PR) held a public rally which was for all intents and purposes a show of unity.
Thousands of people attended the rally MBPJ's stadium in Kelana Jaya and heard Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim speak of their commitment to PR.
PAS’s Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Nasharudin Mat Isa did not attend the rally. The 5,000 in the crowd were clearly present as they enthusiastically cheered loudly for all the speakers.
“Tonight we prove the Umno media wrong; the Pakatan Rakyat remains united,” said Opposition Leader Anwar referring to media reports promoting the Umno-PAS unity government idea.
Despite the opposition coalition’s success in solving the internal problem caused by some PAS leaders’ insistence on holding unity talks with Umno, PR has come under pressure from Barisan Nasional (BN).
Last weekend, the prime minister announced a new merit-based government scholarship that attempts to curb the discontent of the Chinese community which has complained of being consistently sidelined by the Public Service Department in the awarding of scholarships.
And yesterday the government dropped the 30 per cent Bumiputera equity requirement for Malaysian firms seeking public listing.
These liberalisation measures appear to be similar to the PR’s reform agenda but Anwar last night insisted that the BN has yet to institute what he called real reforms, which includes eradicating corruption, promoted by the federal opposition.
“PR’s policy is to ensure that every Malaysian, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians have equal place in the country,” said Anwar.
The Permatang Pauh MP who is facing his second sodomy trial in a decade also reiterated the party’s stand on the Malay language and mother tongue education in an attempt to pressure the government into abolishing the use of English as a medium of instruction for the teaching of science and mathematics, a policy introduced in 2003 which has attracted criticism from both Malay nationalists and Chinese educationists.