The Anwar Ibrahim Campaign Trail: Invading Malacca
Cautiously, the Jelajah Merdeka Rakyat bus strolled into Lubhuk China to kick-off the campaign trail in Malacca, a state that has always been tricky for it’s staunch support for the ruling coalition, Barisan National. All along the way, roads and homes were lined with BN flags with no sign of the opposition. Late last year the bus was attacked by BN supporters in Jasin, with rocks and red paint which can still be seen on the bus today. Turnout at the first ceramah was lukewarm, with only about 250 supporters turning up in front of a row of shop lots. For the first time on the campaign trail, the police made it known that we were being monitored. Even the state police chief was on the ground coordinating movement.
Anwar had a schedule of 8 events to attend in 8 hours which translated into a logistics nightmare for the team. The bus traveled straight ahead of schedule to the last ceramah and waited by the roadside. Fortunately instead of troublemakers we were greeted and cheered on by the locals. Many Chinese families stopped by the bus with kids in tow for a family portrait. Malay youths on motorcycles surrounded the bus with calls supporting DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, a vocal support for his decision to contest in Gelang Patah, Johor. Malacca, Johor and Pahang are among the states considered toughest to campaign in and this time around the sentiment on the group was different.
The people were ready for change and race no longer mattered. The Chinese saw no problem supporting PAS candidates despite fear-mongering attempts by BN under MCA warning the Chinese that every vote for PR (Pakatan Rakyat) brings their state closer to an Islamic state. In that same vein, the Malays were cautioned by UMNO against selling away their rights and religion to a Chinese party, DAP and the reaction to this was clear.
The Malacca campaign peaked at the ceramah perdana in Batu Berendam. Unlike many of the other ceramahs, this was held in a small park, smack in the middle of a residential area. This was now a Pakatan Rakyat park. People were hanging over their balconies, waiting for Anwar to arrive. Because of how narrow the roads were, the bus made camp about a hundred meters from the park. Escorted by bodyguards and supporters he walked towards the park and onto the stage where thousands cheered him on. Even the most unassuming makcik from a house nearby shouted a resounding “yes!” to the points he put forth. This was a crowd which needed no free food, lucky draw or concerts to be entertained. The rakyat wants to be heard and the time is now.
Right after the ceramah, Anwar stopped by a mamak restaurant for a quick meal of chapatti while he answered questions from Reuters and KiniTv. For the humble people who ran the small restaurant. this might have just been their greatest moment as locals from all around the neighbourhood dropped in to see the man who’s waking up Malaysians. in 1998 he shook the nation with the Reformasi movement and today he’s doing it again with a steady march to Putrajaya.
The Jelajah Merdeka moves on today to the state of Johor with a full list of visits as below:
24 April 2013 (Rabu)
1) 4.00 ptg – Sepetang Bersama Anwar Ibrahim
Lokasi: Markaz PAS Sungai Tiram, Ulu Tiram, Tebrau
2) 5.30 ptg – Sepetang Bersama Anwar Ibrahim
Lokasi: Padang Jalan Padi Malinja 6,
Taman Bandar Baru UDA, Johor Bahru
3) 7.30 mlm – Solat & Kuliah Maghrib
Lokasi : Dataran KeADILan, KM 18 Parit Haji Salleh Ros
Jalan Kluang-Batu Pahat
4) 9.00 mlm – Ceramah Perdana Pakatan Harapan Rakyat
Lokasi: Taman Bistari, Parit Botak, Senggarang, Batu Pahat
5) 11.00 mlm – Ceramah Perdana Pakatan Harapan Rakyat
Lokasi : Padang Besar, Kampong Abdullah, Segamat