Thousands witness farewell speech

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 22 Jun 2003

TEN of thousands of people gathered at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) to witness the winding up speech of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his last as a party president at the Umno General Assembly. 

Thousands sat at Level 2 of PWTC in front of a big screen, which beamed the evening’s proceedings while others tried to get a good view by gathering at the various levels of the building. 

Even the usually quiet Level 5 was not spared and the latecomers could not get up to the level because of the massive crowds. 

According to a Putratrade Property Management spokesman, crowd control was carried out by 45 of it security guards and the police. 

“About 90,000 people came in and out of PWTC today. It was a massive jam,” she said. 

SPELLBOUND: The crowd at the PWTC paying full attention to what is being said by a delegate during the debate at the general assembly Saturday.

Part of the crowd also gathered by the red carpet outside Dewan Merdeka, waiting to catch a glimpse of Dr Mahathir and other party leaders. 

Outside the hall, many delegates and supporters found positions on the floor around the television sets to listen to the speech. 

As deputy president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wound up his closing remarks, the thousands of delegates and observers sat up in their seats awaiting Dr Mahathir’s speech. 

The president’s wife, Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali was also given a standing ovation when Abdullah mentioned her. 

The crowd gave the president a standing ovation as he made his way to the rostrum and many took out their cameras to capture the moment. 

As the Prime Minister took his place at the podium to deliver his speech, which lasted over an hour, a pink 100m long banner by the Puteri wing was put up at the balcony of one of the top floors.  

The banner had thousands of signatures from Umno delegates, leaders and supporters showing gratitude and appreciation to their beloved leader. 

The occupants of the hall were silent as they listened intently to his closing remarks. 

When winding up, Dr Mahathir was composed as he recited a poem while the delegates held their breath. Most were expecting their leader to break down in tears, but instead Dr Mahathir ended his speech with a smile and to a standing ovation. 

The applause carried on until the Prime Minister resumed his place on stage, while many delegates were seen to be wiping tears from their eyes. 

Dr Mahathir was mobbed by the delegates who wanted to shake his hand but he was whisked away to the press conference room. 

They continued to wait patiently for him while he proceeded into Dewan Merdeka again to take pictures with Putrade staff, Umno choir, Umno staff and members, the press and police personnel. 

Their patience paid off as he shook their hands while he was leaving. 

Before he got into his car, he hugged Abdullah, turned to face the photographers and crowd as he raised Abdullah’s hand in the air.  

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