Photo credit: DAP Ceramah; More pictures here.
If you thought last Saturday’s ceramah attended by 10,000 people at the Han Chiang High School indoor stadium was huge, think again…
The crowd tonight, this time out in the open in the vast Han Chiang school field, was massive. My engineer friend, a maths whizz, at first tried to estimate the crowd size based on the guesstimated length and breadth of the school field to determine its area multiplied by the average crowd density per square metre! But the crowd kept rising all the time and soon spilled all around the field and outside the perimeter fencing. Finally, he just gave up on his maths and settled for a rough estimate of 60,000. Another researcher who accompanied me also independently came up with a figure of 60,000, saying the turnout could have packed a large football stadium. I concurred with them both. A fourth person, a magazine editor, said the crowd was “easily 50,000”.
Of course, you can’t judge voter sentiment just by the crowd size. But this was no ordinary crowd. Many of them were young. They cheered, they clapped, they whistled, they roared, they sang, they chanted – and they sent a buzz of energy into the air. Indeed, the atmosphere was electric. Seven times, led by a speaker, they chanted, “Jom ubah!”
The DAP had set up a sophisticated audiovisual system with giant screens strategically placed. High-quality inhouse-produced music videos with catchy songs further charged the electricity in the air. A large crane, onto which was affixed a powerful spotlight, lifted a video-cameraman high up into the air so that he could film aerial views of the crowd which were projected “live” onto the giant screens. The crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed when they saw themselves on the screen stretching far out into dark ends of the field.
Jeff Ooi, clearly a crowd favourite, strummed the guitar and belted a few Chinese songs in a somewhat hoarse voice – which made him sound a bit like Louis Armstrong! – much to the delight of the crowd.
If during the largely ethnic Malay-dominated Bersih demonstration last November many wore bright yellow T shirts, and if the Makkal Sakthi Indian Malaysians opted for pale orange, tonight many in the crowd – more than half of them – sported bright red or white tops – the colours of the DAP, apart from red being the auspicious colour of the Chinese.
Karpal, Guan Eng, and Kit Siang received rapturous welcomes as each made a grand entrance into the field, accompanied by Rocket flag bearers wading through the sea of people. A couple of people swung Keadilan flags. Fireworks erupted in the air.
The speeches lacked substance, but the crowd didn’t mind. All the speakers had to do was say, “We must deny the Barisan a two-thirds majority” and a great roar would reverberate across the field. One of them led the crowd in chanting “Up, Up DAP! Down, down, Barisan!” Still, Karpal demanded the release of the Hindraf ISA detainees while other candidates spoke up strongly against the PGCC project.
Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, the PKR candidate for the Bayan Baru parliamentary seat, turned up, representing Wan Azizah, who was unable to attend (apparently because Hishammuddin had turned up in Permatang Pauh to give her a hard time). Zahrain pledged that the PKR candidates would work with their DAP counterparts “like brothers” to send the BN packing, triggering cheers from the crowd.
A steady drizzle during the first half of the proceedings didn’t deter the crowd, many of whom had come prepared with brollies.
Earlier that evening, before attending the rally, I went to buy some pau in a largely Chinese-majority area. I asked the pau man who he was voting for this time.
He hesitated, looking somewhat undecided – one of those floating voters perhaps. Then he asked me a telling question, “Why-ah everyone voting for opposition this time…?”