A huge crowd of about 4,000 from in and around the Bintulu area in northern Sarawak turned up and braved the rain to listen to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim at a weekend gathering in an inland resort just outside Bintulu town.
The parliamentary opposition leader and former deputy prime minister was clearly moved by the spirit shown by the crowd.
The mostly Dayak participants had travelled from far and near within Sarawak to attend the dinner gathering organised by the Dayaks of the northern region and PKR.
They stayed throughout the event in soaking rain without anyone going away throughout the night.
Anwar also did not disappoint them with his classic rhetorics, saying that Bintulu represented the Pakatan Rakyat's fortress with the people in the mood for change.
But at the same time he acknowledged the formidable task ahead to unseat the state Barisan Nasional government.
Organising chairperson Munan Laja told Malaysiakini today that the crowd was estimated at about 4,000, with about 20 percent being non-bumiputeras.
The line of cars parked on both sides of the road at Mile 11, Bintulu-Sibu road, was five kilometres long.
The Pakatan leader said: “When people ask me if there is any hope for PR in Sarawak, I said I don't know about the hope but what I know is I will work and leave the rest to God.
And what I know is that if Sarawakians do not want to change, their lands, their future and their children's future will be at stake.”
150 longhouses but only six with power
To reinforce Anwar's point, Munan, a former Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leader and former Sibu councillor, said: “Look at my area Katibas which has a population of 50,000 people, mostly Iban, and for 45 years after Independence what have we achieved? There are 150 longhouses in Katibas but only six has electricity!”
He spoke about the growing uneasiness among the rural population regarding the exploitation of NCR lands and the lack of rural development, saying it was time for Sarawakians to throw out the BN government and replace it with a Pakatan government.
Another former PRS leader, Beginda Minda, a former close ally of PRS president and state minister Dr James Masing, lashed out at Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu for their policies, especially on NCR land.
"Such policies have caused the Dayaks to lag a lot behind other communities in the state."
DAP Kidurong state assemblyperson, Chiew Chin Sing, who is also state DAP deputy chairperson, said he regarded Anwar as the leader of Pakatan who could lead the coalition to victory in the next general elections.