It lacked the pomposity of the typical Umno gathering of those days.
Instead, Amanah flags decorated Jalan Yaacob Latif, some 100m from Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Training Institute.
The hundreds of kapchai (small underbone motorcycles) riders revving their machines were absent. In their place were seven big bikes with Amanah flags.
The hall was by no means full despite the presence of two senior ministers but there was a friendly atmosphere as the crowd mingled.
That was the scene at the launching of Amanah’s Federal Territories and Bandar Tun Razak office this evening.
Despite the low-key affair, support towards the party continues to grow.
Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, who is Defence Minister, and communications director Khalid Samad (who is also Federal Territories Minister), witnessed some 150 former Umno members, including grassroots leaders, submitting their membership forms to join their party.
Twentytwo13, had on Oct 20, revealed Amanah Federal Territories secretary Ismail Yahaya was approached by several Kuala Lumpur Umno branch and division members as some 200 of them planned to party-hop.
Andher Supardy Lazuardi, once a staunch Umno man, led the delegation as he went on stage to submit the forms.
Dressed in a light orange shirt, Amanah’s colour, the former Batu Umno Youth deputy chief, termed the move as “genuine and sincere” as it will inject a new spirit to serve the grassroots in line with the policies of the new Pakatan Harapan government.
“It’s hijrah … from one side to a better side whereby Amanah is our choice.”
Andher is prepared for the backlash. But he isn’t alone.
Amanah has received thousands of applications since Pakatan Harapan won the May 9 polls.
“Many people from Kelantan have joined Amanah. It’s the state with the highest number of applications,” Mohamad Sabu said in his speech without revealing the numbers.
“Just recently, we received 1,700 more applications. I thought Tok Pa (former veteran Umno leader Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed) would choose Amanah but he went to Bersatu instead. Never mind … as long as it’s not Umno or PAS,” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Beyond the occasional jokes, Mohamad Sabu repeatedly stressed the importance of working with other races. He also cautioned the need for the inexperienced Pakatan Harapan ministers to remain grounded at all times.
“This cabinet has no experience. Only (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad), (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin), Lim Guan Eng and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali have experience in the government.
“The rest of us … no experience. I never knew the role of a defence minister had so many protocols,” he said in jest.
“We are all being watched. There are those who say we are inexperienced. But most importantly, we don’t know how to steal,” he added, in reference to the previous Barisan Nasional government’s financial fiasco.
He said Amanah needed the support of Malays and other races to strengthen its position within Pakatan Harapan.
“Just look at the past general election results. We lost out in key Malay areas like Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang. It was only in mixed areas where we won big.
“Let’s not get overly excited with our big (May 9) victory. We need to pull support from the Malays and we need to work with other races. That is the reality.”
“If Umno and PAS are going to just think about one race (Malays), then they will continue being the opposition for a long time.”
Time will tell if Amanah’s recipe of inclusion will win the hearts of rural Malays, especially those in the east coast.
For now, Umno’s representation is being further depleted at every level and it will take more than just words to regain the trust of those who remain loyal to the party.