I was born on the prairies, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures. [GERONIMO]
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Anwar, Nizar sway Kalumpang Chinese
HULU SELANGOR: Kampung Baru Sejantong in Kalumpang came alive last night as residents relished the privilege of being Pakatan Rakyat's first dinner guests in its campaign kick-off.
The three bigwigs scheduled to make an appearance were PKR's candidate Zaid Ibrahim, Anwar Ibrahim and Nizar Jamaluddin. A surprise guest was national laureate A Samad Said (photo) who recited a poem.
By evening, 35 tables had been laid in the little hall and a banner welcoming Zaid was strung between two lamp posts.
As dusk fell, people began filling up the seats. Most of those inside the hall were older men: the women and the younger crowd opted to sit outdoors.
It would be too easy to assume that most of them turned up for the food, but many were unequivocal in their support for Pakatan.
The owner of Nam Fong Coffee Shop, one of the two coffeeshops in the village, flashed the thumbs-up when asked whether he was happy with the Pakatan candidate.
“Banyak bagus! (Very good!)” he asserted. “BN and MIC have done nothing for us here. Datuk G (Palanivel) promised us RM10,000 for development but we never saw the money. Now they have a new candidate but he is also Indian and we don't trust the MIC any more.”
Oddly enough he didn't unleash a similar rant on the previous MP, the late Zainal Abidin Ahmad, whose illness prevented him from serving the district satisfactorily.
Another resident confirmed the zero support for BN in the village, saying that no one would have turned up if the ruling coalition were the dinner hosts that night.
“We have heard the empty promises and we are tired of them,” he said simply.
Nizar was the first to arrive to a rousing welcome from the crowd.
Taking the stage, the former Perak menteri besar declared that the people's message for BN was that it had planted the seeds of racism in the hearts of Malaysians and was therefore not wanted any longer.
“The future of politics in Malaysia is respect and racial tolerance, and it will start with Hulu Selangor!” he boomed, to a roar of approval from the crowd.
“Zaid has principles and Umno fired him because he stood up to its racist policies. It is our duty to depart from these policies and set an example for other states in Malaysia.”
Nizar, who is MP for Bukit Gantang, also resurrected past issues of racist statements made by the former prime minister's aide Nasir Safar, and of the Perak government coup and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's attempt to use land as a bargaining chip to garner votes from Felda settlers.
He broke off halfway through his speech to announce the arrival of Anwar, who was greeted with a standing ovation and shouts of "Reformasi".
By this time, word had got around that Zaid was unable to attend, but clearly Anwar's presence made up for his absence.
Cries of support
The crowd had swelled and people were standing on the road to hear him speak. Others filled the hall's doorways and pressed themselves up against the windows for a better view.
In his usual style, Anwar soon had the crowd eating out of his hand as he spoke about BN's mistreatment of the Chinese community.
He criticised Najib's 1Malaysia concept, saying that it was unacceptable for a "top person" to get away with corruption while an innocent man like Teoh Beng Hock lost his life.
Murmurs of agreement turned into cries of support as Anwar went on to past issues like commissions paid in the submarine deal and the federal attitude towards oil royalties.
“MCA will give you free dinners and free BN T-shirts,” he told them. “But how can the Chinese wear these T-shirts while BN is still mistreating them?”
“I don't know my future,” he said and paused as he slowly scanned the crowd. “But I do know that it is time for Malaysia to change!”
Nizar or Anwar may have repeated tales of old, but judging from the response, these tales went down very well with the Chinese community in Kalumpang.