That 72-year-old DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang was feted like a rock star by thousands of people cheering and blowing on air horns last night on the first day of campaigning here for Election 2013 was no surprise.
What was striking at a rally here for the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency was the sight of the predominantly Chinese crowd holding aloft PAS flags along with those bearing DAP’s rocket logo.
And Kit Siang captured the mood of the thousands gathered here and perhaps that of the Chinese electorate throughout the country over the perceived fear of the Islamic agenda of PAS.
“They say a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS. Is that true? Yes it is. That is because a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS, PKR and Pakatan Rakyat.
“I say here tonight. This is the battle between the past and the future,” he said as the Chinese crowd cheered enthusiastically.
The Barisan Nasional (BN), he said, represented the politics of the past, and to underscore his point, he surprisingly offered praise for his opponent, outgoing Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.
“He represents the model of BN development that is stuttered with corruption, cronyism, abuses of power and injustice.”
PR, Kit Siang argued, represented the future and a new Malaysia.
But the crowd’s enthusiasm last night was not restricted to Kit Siang.
When PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub, who is contesting both the nearby Pulai federal seat and Nusajaya state seat, addressed them earlier, the crowd cheered and waved PAS and DAP flags.
“We are making history tonight,” he said.
“The Chinese are wearing PAS shirts and holding PAS flags. PAS members too are wearing DAP shirts.
“If the Chinese can wear PAS shirts this means that Umno can fall.”
Cooperation between the secular DAP and the Islamist PAS has always been a delicate issue for the Chinese, but conventional wisdom has been turned on its head due to developments in the past 48 hours.
But the Election Commission allowed the DAP to continue using its rocket logo at Nomination Day yesterday, but the offer by PAS to DAP to borrow its logo appears to have brought the two parties closer together.
And a widespread perception among the Chinese that the DAP was victimised has also help break the community’s lingering distrust of PAS’s Islamic agenda.
This new spirit of togetherness between the two parties comes even as MCA launched a major advertising blitz attacking DAP for allegedly backing PAS’s Islamic agenda.
It remains to be seen if MCA’s campaign will work, but DAP-PAS cooperation did not seem to temper the enthusiasm of the thousands of Chinese gathered for Lim last night.
They matched their cheers with a massive cash donation of more than RM90,000 for the party’s election machinery.