Sunday, August 17, 2008

Permatang Pauh Election

Saturday, August 16, 2008
Permatang Pauh Election

The convoy of cars and SUVs which accompanied Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail left his residence at Cherok Tok Kun, not far from Bukit Mertajam at 8.00 am sharp for the nomination center at the Tuanku Bainun Teachers College in Seberang Jaya.

By the time we arrived at the place 30 minites later, it was jam packed since very early morning with some 120,000 people from all walks of life, who have come from various parts of Malaysia as far as Sabah and Sarawak, to witness the official start of the by-election for the Parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh.

More than 95 per cent of those who braved the intense heat of the sun were KeADILan/Pakatan Rakyat supporters. They were energised by the sounds and beat of drums and percussion instruments of Indian and Chinese community and inspired by the winds of change which Anwar represents.

The UMNO-Barisan supporters were overwhelmed by the strong presence of “Anwar’s people”, a clear sign that public support for the ruling government was at an all time low. They were jeered by the crowd. The Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was not spared as the crowd greeted him with shouts of “pembunuh”(murderer) and “Altantuya!, Altantuya!”. Shahrizat “Jihad” Abdul Jalil, Mukhriz Tun Mahathir and UMNO Treasurer Azim Zabidi, among other BN and UMNO leaders, too received uncomplimentary remarks from the crowd.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders Tok Guru Nik Aziz, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, MB Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of Penang , however, were warmly greated by the crowd. Special cheers were given to hometown favorite, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his car entered the compound of the Teachers’ College.

Bloggers like Raja Petra and his wife Marina Abdullah, Sam Haris Ibrahim, Benard Khoo and members of Kuala Lumpur based civil society groups were present. They mingled in the crowd. The bulky and formidable Bala, a keen supporter of Nurul Izzah Anwar, our dynamic Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, was seen among a group of Makal Sakti/Hindraf supporters. Overall, it was a spectacle unseen before in the history of Malaysian elections.

To the credit of all concerned, especially the Officers and men of our Royal Malaysian Police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and marshalls of PKR and Pakatan Raykat, the crowd was orderly and well disciplined.

There is no doubt in my mind that this by-elections would be for the Pakatan Rakyat to lose. But given the Pakatan election machinery, PKR grassroots organisation in Permatang Pauh, and election strategists led by Party Vice President Azmin Ali which went into full gear following Datuk Seri Wan Azizah’s resignation in late July to make way for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the outcome may be a foregone conclusion, that is, Dato Seri Anwar will be in Parliament on August 27.

That said, PKR party officials led by Vice President Azmin Ali and Penang Liaison Chief Dato Zahrain Mohammed Hashim, the Pakatan Rakyat election oganisation and their workers and volunteers were not taking anything for granted, given the clearly demonstrated capacity of UMNO-Barisan Nasional political machine and official agencies of the government to cheat and bribe voters and use dirty politics.

When the formalities were completed at noon, the returning officer announced that there would be a three-corned fight (see the Malaysiakini report). Ten minutes later, the rain came down.–Din Merican

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