Malaysia's Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) held a two-day gathering this weekend to shore up support for the next general election, which must be held by next August.
Local media said the event in Kuala Terengganu, more than 400km from Kuala Lumpur, drew tens of thousands by yesterday afternoon. The party expects 200,000 at the two-day event, which resembles a carnival with lucky draws, stalls and contests.
Dubbed Fastaqim (Rise Up) 2.0, it is the second such gathering organised by PAS after the first in 2015, months after the party broke ranks with other opposition parties, ending the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
Former Selangor menteri besar Khalid Ibrahim, who was with Parti Keadilan Rakyat before his unceremonious sacking from the party, set tongues wagging yesterday when he turned up for the PAS gathering. Talk was that the former state chief would join the Islamist party.
Tan Sri Khalid, however, denied the rumours, saying he was there to support "friends who share the same goal... to unite Malaysians".
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad was cited as saying mostly youth had turned up, a sign that the party was still strong in the "political ring".
In an earlier message, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang urged supporters to turn up to "fulfill promise and loyalty towards Islam's battle and determination to save this beloved country". He was expected to announce a new opposition coalition last night, said Malaysian Insight news website. It said the Gagasan Sejahtera line-up would include the Ikatan and Berjasa parties and possibly Parti Cinta Malaysia.