Comparisons have been made between the speech yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the one delivered by former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad five years ago, with many pointing to the audience size to show the level of interest by the international community.
Several video clips and pictures have been making waves since last night, showing a near-empty hall as Anwar addressed the UN for the first time since assuming top office last year.
In one video, Mahathir was seen addressing the same venue with a much larger audience, comprising diplomats and representatives.
"The last time Tun M spoke at the UN assembly, it was full house," wrote Condor Hero on Twitter, referring to Mahathir's speech in September 2018. "PMX spoke for only 15 minutes to an almost empty hall! No one is interested in what Madani is!"
Anwar, in his speech, touched on his Malaysia Madani slogan.
"Early this year, I introduced Malaysia Madani, a vision built on the pillars of core values that we believe are indispensable in any harmonious, thriving, and peaceful society: compassion, respect, trust, innovation, prosperity, and sustainability," he said.
Checks during the live telecast of Anwar's 15-minute speech showed a largely empty hall with only a sprinkling of delegates, including a group of Malaysian ministers who accompanied the prime minister on the trip.
One commentator recalled how Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters used to mock past leaders for speaking to empty chairs during the UN speech, considered a highlight of international limelight for any prime minister.
"I remember PH supporters used to condemn, vilify, and make jokes about past PMs' speeches at the UNGA, from the language used to the attendance. Now? Serves them right."
Mahathir had several times addressed the UN, where he was among the few leaders from the Muslim world at that time who would take on major powers as well as criticise the world body over veto powers.
"The great democrats talk incessantly about the rule of law. But they are selective. Friends may break any law and get away scot-free. Thus, Israel can break all the international laws and norms of the world, and it will continue to be supported and defended," Mahathir said in his last UN speech in 2019.
Meanwhile, Anwar's speech last night sparked a lively debate on his performance, many of whom pointed to the empty seats while others said they were not surprised by another "boring" speech.
Many government supporters, including PH cybertroopers, however, put up a strong defence: "No previous Malaysian PM had performed better than Anwar on this international stage. This is quite awe-inspiring," said Peter Goh on Twitter, only to be quickly put down by others: "Kiss-a*s. Tun M's speeches over the years were much better," posted Shaik Imran.
A PKR leader also poured praise on Anwar's speech: "Malaysia is roaring back to the world stage! Proud," said Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, but was quickly reminded of the public outrage back home over Anwar's defence of the decision to halt the corruption trial of his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"The roar when Zahid (was given) DNAA is much louder than this," said Mohd Muhaimin.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, who was also in the PM's delegation to New York, said she was filled with "immense pride and joy" listening to him.
"It is also about watching the resilience in a leader who has guided us in a 25-year journey for reform, a leader who taught us to derive strength and courage from our values and convictions," she posted on Twitter.
"We had many PMs of ours deliver keynotes in the past. Nothing great about it or to be overjoyed about," said Indrren in response, while another reminded Zaliha about a problem related to her ministry.
"What is your government doing about the exodus of highly skilled doctors from MoH/KKM due to a bad working environment, long working hours, and poor pay?" asked ReinRazak.