Hope for the future: The next generation celebrates an Anwar and Reformasi victory in a kampong in Penanti earlier this evening
Send in your “citizen journalist” eye-witness reports from Permatang Pauh as it goes to the polls. Others share with us your thoughts on polling day.
All eyes in Malaysia and beyond are trained on this constituency of 58,000 voters in mainland Penang, the scene of a pivotal by-election on Tuesday that could determine if an opposition alliance can press ahead with its plan to take over the federal government in the coming weeks. Check out my pre-election IPS news analysis here.
The official final majority is 15,671 votes. Anwar secured 31,195 votes; Ariff 15,524 votes and Akim’s Hanafi Mamat 92 votes (deposit lost).
2154: The unofficial final tally is a majority of around 16,500. On a more sobering note, the simple and friendly Malay kampong shopkeeper here says,”We don’t get anything whoever wins, you know.” Ariff, he says, is a nice guy. “He just happened to be in the wrong ‘car’ (party).”
Two little Malay boys were peering into my laptop earlier, a 12-year-old and a younger boy around six. I asked the older boy what he wants to be when he grows up. “Dreber (driver),” he replied proudly. “Dreber lori.”
2016: Anwar has bagged around 32,000 votes so far to Ariff’s 14,000; that’s a 17,000-18,000 majority. “He has taken on the whole BN machinery and all the resources at their disposal and come out tops,” says a lawyer.
2010: TV3 confirms that Anwar has won. But counting is still in progress.
1936: Out of 9,000 votes tallied, the BN has secured just over 2,000. Anwar is leading by about a 4-to-1 margin. The BN has even lost Seberang Jaya, according to my source.
1905: Another police convoy, sirens blaring, passes by heading to the central counting area, this time followed by scores of motorcyclists carrying PKR flags and waving in triumph. They are already celebrating!
1858: It’s a landslide for Anwar! Out of 5,000 votes counted, about 4,100 go to PKR, according to my source.
1854: Police outriders, their sirens wailing, a police van and police on motorbikes beat the long queue to the counting centre. Behind them a motorcyclist follows, the pillion rider, a woman, pumps her fist in the air. More motorcylists carrying PKR flags pass by. The police chopper circles above.
1852: Turnout is reportedly 65 per cent, lower than expected. (This was based on a Bernama report carried on the NST website.)
1848: In the distance, I can hear kampong children, probably sensing something in the air, continually crying out “Reformasi!”
1825: A convoy of bikers waving PKR flags passes by as a police chopper hovers ahead. Motorists continue to honk on the roads. Traffic on the roads here has come to a standstill. A siren wails in the distance.
1800: It all points to an Anwar victory by a large majority. An elderly Malay gentleman, Din, from the kampong here ambles up to me and we exchange pleasantries. I ask him what the level of support for Anwar is in this area. “Out of a hundred residents here, you could say 60 to 70 support PKR.”
1755: I have also received a report that Pakatan supporters have apprehended five buses of hantus in Seberang Jaya. But Gobalakrishnan has been arrested in the process. Motorists are honking and I can hear more cries of “Reformasi!”
1750: Abdullah Badawi is said to have returned to KL. I was heading to the counting area but there’s a massive crawl from Permatang Pauh heading to the central counting area. So I have parked in a little kampong area, Kampong Petani in Penanti. It’s an amazing sight on the roads here. Children are on the roadsides, shouting Reformasi!, come of them are carrying PKR flags while others are wearing Anwar masks. The childen at least are already celebrating!
1647: RPK and Mkini are both predicting a winning margin of 10,000 – but could it be more – or less, if the hantus get to work?
1636: “We are witnessing a turning point in our country’s history,” a friend of mine says in a text message.
1617: Hisham Rais reports that alleged hantus (phantoms) have been caught in Mengkuang Titi. What next? Check his blog for more about these mysterious hantus.
Calon PKR Anwar Ibrahim bersama dengan penyokongnya telah menangkap “hantu”.
Kejadian berlaku di Mengkuang Titi. Keadaan agak tegang di sana.
PEKIDA a.k.a geng adik beradik juga berada di sana untuk memanaskan keadaan. Penduduk kampung nampaknya lebih “matang” daripada PEKIDA untuk mengawal suasana.
1610: Ah Singh has this update for us. Could this be true? Interesting “mental estimates”! Polling’s not yet over though… We shall see.
Anwar won already-lah. My kaki just rang me at 3.15 pm to say landslide victory for Anwar after he and some guys did some ‘mental’ estimates at the polling stations. No fight-lah. Anwar won hands down. All hail the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.
1600: Bright sunshine bathes the town centre, keeping the rain away. I am now preparing to head to the central counting centre, for what should be an eventful evening. Stay tuned!
1530: While having some fruit juice at a coffee-shop nearby, I notice a couple of the waiters wearing shirts/T shirts in PKR blue. I look at the Chinese waiter’s cap when she serves me my drink. It’s the same blue. I look more closely at the emblem stitched onto her cap. It is a small portrait of Anwar.
A PKR man, a Chinese Malaysian, joins me at the table in the crowded shop. A party member for the last eight years, he says he has come from Ipoh because “I want to see democracy in Malaysia”.
Someone has suggested there may have been cloud-seeding operations to get it to rain! But it’s not raining now, though the sky looks grey and overcast.
About an hour earlier, I ran into a couple of Mafrel election observers. They told me the turnout at a Chinese school was high at lunch time – around 60 per cent. They also said they spotted three plainclothes police personnel in the compound of one polling centre and reported the matter to get them out of there.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission is reported as saying that the turnout could exceed 80 per cent. A friend of mine estimates turnout of at least 75 per cent and a winning majority of 15,000. So we know turnout won’t be low, although there are unconfirmed reports that the turnout was low in a few Malay areas. But there’s still time yet.
1452: Selvarajah Somiah reports on the unofficial turnout:
I have unofficial reports that the turnout at 2.00pm is at 65-70 per cent. At this rate, the voter turnout before 5.00pm should be more than 80 per cent. More people are coming out to vote now.
Anwar should be winning with more than 10,000 votes if this is the trend.
PKR supporters hoist a “coffin” in anticipation of a BN defeat as FRU personnel keep them from spilling onto the road
Hishammuddin fires up the BN crowd in front of a polling station and BN service centre.
1440: Over the last couple of hours I have been walking around the Permatang Pauh town centre. It’s all peaceful folks, nothing to worry about – so far. People are milling at the junction of the town. A chopper “parks” itself in the sky above for several minutes. Supporters from both sides are just boisterous and exhuberant.
A bit of pandemonium breaks out when Hishammuddin and Khairy arrive in a car which stops right smack in the middle of the junction. They alight and walk briskly around a bit. The BN crowd mob them, while the PKR supporters jeer, showing the thumbs down.
Hisham walks to a BN service centre. The BN supporters’ chant goes up, taunting the PKR supporters, “Angkat sumpah! Angkat sumpah!” and “Mana Magnum?” – the latter a reference to Nalla’s allegation against Anwar regarding Magnum funds.
The police and FRU here are adopting a low-key approach, but their presence is visible. A traffic cop directs traffic at the junction.
A rumour spreads that Najib is about to drive by. The PKR women folk quickly rush to the roadside, ready to give him a “hot” reception. They tell one another excitedly, “Mongolia datang! Mongolia datang!” A guy standing nearby adds, “Ya, Mongolia Altantuya.”
1315: Muhammad Firdaus Christopher shares some unconfirmed information:
I have unofficial reports that the percentage of voter turnout as of noon is between 49 and 50 per cent. Reckon that this is pretty high and should hit above 80 per cent by 5.00pm.
I hear from my running mates that there is intimidation of voters not only in Seberang Jaya but at Tanah Liat area as well but the folks there ain’t bothered.
1311: Karma sends us this report:
The support for Anwar can be seen all over. People cheer and approach him wherever he goes. This charismatic politician has won the hearts of most people here. Ariff was relatively a loner this morning. He looked quite subdued when not many people gathered around him. He was quite deprived of the cheers and handshakes given to Anwar.
The sentiment is Anwar will win with a sizeable majority. The people seem to show more support for Anwar, seemingly. Cheers and boos are common but security is tight in all areas.
1245: Uh-oh, looks like some over-exhuberant supporters around. This from The Edge Daily:
26-08-2008: FRU disperses crowds at polling centre
From Regina William in Permatang Pauh
PERMATANG PAUH: Hundreds of Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel and plainclothes policemen moved in to disperse thousands of vociferous supporters outside Sekolah Kebangsaaan Seri Penanti voting centre in Kubang Semang.
The crowd had inched their way onto the road, disrupting the smooth flow of traffic.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, had earlier cast their votes at the school at 9.48am and 9.53am, respectively.
The crowd started to gather beneath the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway as early as 7am. By 8am, the crowd has swelled to a few hundreds on both sides of the road. At one point, police moved in and arrested a PKR supporter who attempted to cross the road to taunt the Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters.
Police then used the loudhailer and gave the crowd five minutes to disperse. Both sides of the crowd moved back but remained, while FRU personnel formed a human chain in front of the groups of supporters.
Police helicopter hovered above to keep a watchful eye to ensure there were no untoward incidences.
Despite the sweltering morning heat and tense situation, including the traffic snarl stretching 5km on either side, voters kept “swimming in” to fulfill their obligations.
Earlier, Anwar told reporters that he was confident of a win but was skeptical about the majority, which he claimed would be affected by vote-rigging and “uncleaned” electoral roll.
Anwar was dressed in a baby blue shirt. When asked about his message to the BN, Anwar said: “Behave and accept the stark reality of the day.”
Despite him being early in the day to claim victory, Anwar expressed confidence that he would be in Parliament tomorrow morning, indicating a victory is imminent.
1230: A lot of activity on the streets. People are just milling around, some sitting around in coffee shops. The honking of motorbikes and cars continues. Almost like a carnival atmosphere. I am going to walk around now, maybe grab some lunch. Next update around 1400.
1209: Turnout (not sure as at what time) is believed to be around 30 per cent, which PKR officials are describing as “okay” and “not bad”. They tell me the turnout at the general election was 81 per cent.
The noise decibel level where I am is rising. Music is blaring, flag-waving canvassers are cheering passing cars, police sirens are wailing, people are chattering away excitedly, cars are honking.
1140: The mood is upbeat at the PKR office, which is a hive of activity. I run into the amiable Mustafa Kamal (not the blogger!), the PKR campaign director. He is more optimistic. He predicts that the majority will easily exceed 13,000. I ask him what he bases his optimism on.
“The high-spirited support – more high-spirited than during the general election.”
Does he think his earlier target of a 20,000-majority can be met?
“That I can’t say!”
Okay, time for me to take a little walkabout and poke my nose around.
1122: I don’t know how to describe the atmosphere here in Permatang Pauh. Electric, magical, heady… It’s all that and more. I spoke to the guy in charge of the PKR office, and he is cautious. He expects a 3,000-5,000 majority. Right now, he is concerned that there are not enough PKR canvassers at Seberang Jaya, Ariff Shah’s stronghold. Many of the PKR volunteers are in Penanti.
The scene in Permatang Pauh this morning: There is electricity in the air!
1023: Superpoorman tells us that voter turnout appears as high as the 2008 general election and Ariff Shah has received a lukewarm reception:
I went to queue up in front of the SK Seberang Jaya II voting centre’s gate @ 7.45am. There were already several early birds in the queue and hoards of reporters. Ariff Shah and his wife and several women walked from his house and arrived there @ 7.50am. He attempted to chat up the voters but their responses were lukewarm. From their expressions and body language it looked as if they were not voting him. Nobody offered to salam him. Even those extended salam by him merely shook his hand and quickly pulled back. Not a single voter was heard uttering any ‘good luck’ wish.
Instead, a Malay man next to me was quite pissed off by Ariff blocking the entrance; I could see this man roll up his eyes and draw a deep breath.
Sensing the poor response from the real voters, Ariff quickly turned his attention to the media and gave a short interview plus photo taking.
The voting centre finally opened at 8.00am and people started streaming into the compound in droves. The turnout was as much as the one in 080308 (I was there voting @ 8.00 sharp too).
I casted my vote while Ariff casted his in Saluran 2. While on my way out, I saw Ariff still hanging around the compound, walking listlessly, trying to shake the hand of anyone who looked familiar to him. By this time the press had deserted him and he appeared to be alone, like a lone sea-gull. Again, nobody went up to shake his hand.
Judging by that kind of response, I am confident BN will lose big this time, real BIG, probably 20,000-30,000 majority.
Well, Malaysia, I have discharged my duty in voting for Anwar. The rest will be history.
1023: Muhammad Firdaus Christopher provides an update on the mood from the ground:
My sincere apologies for not being able to send in my updates last nite as I was caught up with the action and only managed to get home at 3am… Last nite was just amazing and I was there since 9pm, laying my tikar and sharing them with five of the local folks around Seberang Jaya.
Despite the downpour, they were in high spirits and very excited about listening to their wakil rakyat. Whilst awaiting we chatted quite a bit and here is some input:
– They do not believe the sodomy allegation, say it was a political ploy
– Arif is really needed as an Adun in Seberang Jaya as he has excellent track record
– BN particularly Umno has become a racist party
– Too much propoganda played up by the media on the sumpah laknat/sodomy allegations
– Puteri/Putera Umno’s allegedly obscene gestures
– They feel that Najib/Rosmah are (allegedly) linked to the Altantuya case (may her soul rest in peace)
– and many, many, many more…. can’t continue.
Bottomline, with the feeling of the voters at Ground Zero where it matters, I’ll bet my dough on Datuk Seri with 80-20 in his favour.
0924: Just receive a text message from a friend: “Hopping from foot to foot in nervous energy. Keep us in d loop even if you have 2 pay a phantom voter RM10 to hold an umbrella over your notebook”! Ha ha. Quite. On that note, I am off to scour the streets of Permatang Pauh for a bit.
Malaysian folk heroes: Aliran president P Ramakrishnan runs into popular Malaysia Today blogger Raja Petra at the big ceramah last night (Photo credit: mustafakanuar.wordpress.com)
0815: Already there’s a text message being circulated: “Pls fwd. Pastikan anda/jiran/rakan keluar undi awal tanpa tangguh @ ragu. Tiada siapa dpt halang anda dari mengundi…”
It’s D-Day! That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up and rub my eyes.