Remember The Force Behind Reformasi Ph Told After Remarks On Education Income
The youth of today as well as the 1990s who attended the original reformasi protests in Kuala Lumpur voice disappointment with the comments.
(MalaysiaNow) – Rahimi Abd Kadir recalls how, more than two decades ago, he and his friends made their way to the capital city from their village in Kedah to attend a reformasi protest – the slogan adopted by Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked from the government in 1998.
They were among thousands of youth who found themselves out of a job amid the economic downturn caused by the Asian financial crisis.
Rahimi lost his job as a factory operator in Penang while one of his friends was forced to shut down his motorcycle workshop.
The third of them meanwhile could only find odd jobs around his village in Sik, Kedah.
With no money to spend and nothing to buy, they spent their time chatting in front of each other’s houses, talking about the political situation.
It was September 1998, and Anwar had just been sacked from his position as deputy prime minister by Dr Mahathir Mohamad on charges of sexual misconduct.
The move sparked one of Malaysia’s biggest political crises, with thousands turning out in mass protests in Kuala Lumpur, patterned after the gatherings in Indonesia a year earlier which succeeded in toppling the Suharto regime.
Rahimi still remembers how the youth at the time would talk of nothing else, eagerly following every development communicated through the newspapers, television screens and radio programmes.
Then came the day when they decided to go to Kuala Lumpur themselves and join in the protests at Dataran Merdeka.
“Ask anyone who went to the gathering of Sept 20,” Rahimi said in a recent interview with MalaysiaNow.
“None of the youth there had any money. But they were the ones who supported him until he finally became the prime minister,” he added, referring to Anwar’s appointment to the top office in November last year.
Education and income
With memories of the 1998 protests still clear in his mind, Rahimi is disappointed in PKR leader Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who recently said that the youth who supported Perikatan Nasional (PN) at the November election had low levels of education and income.
“Back then, their support was from young people with no money, too,” he said.
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