By Zurairi AR
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today blared Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) clarion call for change to the Chinese community as they prepare to usher in the Lunar New Year, saying it would be a step towards improving a country that has been ruled for over half a century by Barisan Nasional (BN).
The Opposition Leader, in his Chinese New Year message on TV Selangor's YouTube channel, noted the importance of racial and religious unity among Malaysians when embracing the "spirit of change" to help the opposition pact achieve its Putrajaya goal.
"We bring a spirit of change, for a better state of affairs," said Anwar, who could be seen sitting beside a small round table topped with greeting cards, Mandarin oranges and a lantern hanging from the ceiling.
"Hopefully we can defend this spirit of change by attaining progress and good victory in the next general elections."
The Permatang Pauh MP also insisted that the change promised by the opposition is a "change for the good".
Anwar's message comes following claims by PR's political foes, particularly his long time arch-nemesis, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, that a vote for change would lead Malaysia to destruction.
Dr Mahathir, who is said to still wield influence in ruling Umno, had last week warned Malaysians against voting for change, arguing that it will result in a weak government that would hinder economic progress.
In the video, Anwar also urged Malaysians to band together in defending peace and unity between Malaysians of different races and religions, in order to bring about change.
He likened the people's struggle for political change over the past year to the journey of Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang in the famous folktale "Journey to the West".
According to him, Xuanzang was faced with many hardships along his journey, but managed to triumph at the end of it.
"(We've had) years of anguish, with economic problems, graft, corruption, insults to races and religions, rights of citizens, (where) citizenships are still questioned and disputed," he added.
Anwar's speech in the video was interspersed with montages of various multicultural festival celebrations organised by PR.
This year's Chinese New Year celebrations has seen politicians from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) eagerly taking the chance to reach out to voters, by sending out greetings with a subtle political flavour ahead of Election 2013.
The Chinese, who are the second-largest ethnic group in the country, had previously been described by Dr Mahathir as the "kingmakers" in the 13th general election, which must be held within months.