Another historic day for Penang, Sunday, 27 June 2010: That’s when hecklers first made their presence felt at the recently opened Penang Speakers’ Square.

Hecklers are of course a regular feature at London’s Speakers’ Corner, and now they have become part and parcel of Penang’s Speakers’ Square. It’s good practice for up-and-coming public speakers when they have to contend with a less than receptive crowd. And all part of the fun.

The Penang Speakers’ Square, open in the evenings on Wednesdays and Sundays, is fast turning into a local attraction and a must-see for visitors to Penang. Dozens turn up especially on Sundays to listen to the speakers – and now the hecklers.

This report from theSun:

Gerakan speakers heckled

Mon, 28 Jun 2010

A senior citizen waves the front page of a Chinese daily which featured a report on Gerakan losing Penang in the March 8 general elections, while Kedah Gerakan secretary Tang Hing Lye was giving his speech at Speakers’ Square in George Town.

GEORGE TOWN (June 28, 2010): The usually supportive spectators at the Speakers Square responded with shouting and cursing when a few members of Gerakan showed up to address them on Sunday. Senior citizens and other bystanders, who normally respond appreciatively when listening at the square, shouted phrases like “liar”, “keep quiet” and “go home” to the Gerakan speakers who reacted stoically while keeping their composure.This was believed to be the first time any speaker was seen heckled or jeered at since the Speakers Square opened in early May.

To their credit, Kedah Gerakan secretary Tang Hing Lye who spoke in Hokkien, and party member Rich Too, who spoke in Malay, completed their speeches in which they criticised the current Penang government. They were accompanied by several party members.

At one stage, while Tang was talking, an elderly man in the crowd held up an old Chinese daily with the front page story of Gerakan losing Penang in the March 8, 2008 general election.

Tang, however, went on undeterred as he was showered with a litany of angry expressions, mostly in Hokkien.

In his speech, Tang criticised Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for being biased and one-sided in his policies for the people of Penang.

According to him, Lim’s administration allocated RM25 million to the bumiputra welfare fund and only RM8 million to welfare fund for non-bumiputras.

He also challenged Lim to act on the Penang bridge toll that is reported to be increased from RM7 to RM9.40 by late 2013.

The crowd mellowed slightly when Too came forward to speak, but began booing again when the duo were leaving the venue.

Some hundred-odd people gathered at the square despite a slight drizzle. — theSun