This is the first time the former prime minister is campaigning for Barisan in any by-election after his retirement six years ago.
Dr Mahathir was greeted by a crowd of about 2,000 who shouted shouted "Hidup Tun" and "Hidup Mahathir". Many tried to shake his hand and to get a photograph with him.
Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is leading the by-election campaign in Bt Gantang, and other party leaders were at the event to welcome him.
Dr Mahathir's presence here today is expected to give Barisan an edge in the Bukit Gantang by-election in which its candidate, Ismail Safian, is facing ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin and an Independent, businessman Kamarul Ramizu Idris.
The Star has the story below:
TAIPING: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has openly given his stamp of approval to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak’s administration, saying that the current government was truly “the people’s government.”
The former premier said his confidence in Najib grew following his willingness to get up close and personal with the people by meeting them on the ground in his second day as prime minister.
“I have full confidence that Datuk Seri Najib can correct the problems currently plaguing the country, and also confident that he would bring Malaysia to new heights to benefit all the races in the country,” he told a crowd of thousands at Dataran PPP near here Monday.
Later, he said he would not accept a senior minister’s post in the Cabinet if offered, but was willing to advise the Government in an unofficial capacity.
Najib is widely expected to unveil his new Cabinet line-up on Wednesday
Dr Mahathir was in Bukit Gantang at the invitation of Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is heading the Barisan Nasional machinery for the three by-elections -- Bukit Gantang here in Perak, Bukit Selambau in Kedah and Batang Ai in Sarawak.
This is the first time in the nearly six years since he left office that the premier of 22 years has hit the campaign trail.
Mahathir, who rejoined Umno on Saturday, expressed his hope that the many members who had left the party would also return to its fold.
“Times have changed. The government today is truly for the people. So I am urging those who had left Umno, please come back,” he said, adding that he was confident that the current administration would be taking steps to address people’s unhappiness.
He also said that street demonstrations were not part of Malaysian culture and were a waste of time.
“What do we get by demonstrating on the streets, except to cause damage? Dialogue is the best way to resolve unhappiness and differences. If we are still unhappy with the government, then show it through the ballot boxes,” he added.
He also expressed his appreciation to the thousands of people who had gathered at the field an hour before his arrival at 10am.
“I feel I am truly back in Umno. Thank you for the welcome, although some people had told me to be prepared for spoilt eggs,” he said to thunderous applause.
Dr Mahathir was truly in his element when campaigning for Barisan, always referring to the Opposition as “the other side” with his trademark dry wit.
He is scheduled to hit the campaign trail in Bukit Selambau later Monday.
...and Thousands dine with Nizar, April 5: Read Zorro's entry here .