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A month before the last general election in 2013, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a symbolic visit to Johor Bahru, called on voters of Gelang Patah to turn the constituency into a burial ground for DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang’s political career.

On the fourth anniversary of the 13th general election last night, Mahathir was again in Gelang Patah, but this time he delivered a very different message.

Mahathir, who has personally claimed responsibility for demonising DAP as an Chinese chauvinist party, received a rock star welcome at a DAP dinner in Gelang Patah.

One DAP member even asked Mahathir to autograph a framed picture of the 92-year-old man when he was prime minister.

In his speech at the fundraising dinner, Mahathir even urged those present to loosen their purse strings to bolster DAP’s war chest in Gelang Patah.

“I hope you will be generous in helping DAP and Pakatan Harapan,” he said.

Gelang Patah is a parliamentary constituency that covers greater Johor Bahru.

It was a dramatic turn of events in just one election cycle and Mahathir, in his speech, acknowledged that there were still some who could not accept this.

‘Not betraying anybody’

Mahathir noted that Lim, who is now Gelang Patah MP, had been criticised for allying with him, once considered an archenemy.

“To (some of) the Chinese, Kit Siang has betrayed them. To (some of) the Malays, I have betrayed them. But we are not betraying anybody, we are for all Malaysians,” Mahathir said.

He then went into the mantra of how his former party Umno, now led by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, had morphed into a kleptocratic government.

“It is for this reason that I and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) are now a coalition partner in Pakatan Harapan.

“Together, we are stronger,” he said.

Mahathir emphasised on the need for all parties within Harapan, including Bersatu, to back DAP if it was the party of choice to contest Gelang Patah and called on DAP and the other allies to back Bersatu or any other Harapan party contesting in the other constituencies.

“For 60 years… the opposition has never been able to win at the federal level.

“But now we are coming together and we will be able to work and win in the election,” he said.

Playing to the gallery of DAP supporters, Mahathir also reiterated that DAP was a multi-racial party and that it was MCA that is a Chinese chauvinist party.

He also explained his past demonisation of DAP, stating that it was just politics.

“The government (under me), in the past, labelled the DAP as Chinese chauvinist.

“That was the nature of politics – to win, we label the opponents.

“In the case of DAP, it was considered a Chinese chauvinist party. In return, I was also labelled an extremist (by the opposition),” he said.

However, Mahathir said, in reality this was not true and that was why he was willing to cooperate with DAP.

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