The Opposition campaign in Penang ended last night on a multi-racial high as 8,000 people crowded the main road in Sungai Ara near the Pas markas.
For the first time in Penang, I noticed that all the ethnic groups were well represented. Malay men shouted Makkal Sakthi along with their Indian counterparts while everyone shouted reformasi! Many held aloft PKR and DAP flags while above the stage, a Pas flag rose into the air. Like at the Han Chiang school field the previous night, large screens were placed at strategic places while a crane held aloft a video-cameraman high in front of the stage.
Anwar arrived to a rousing welcome. He reminded the crowd that we are all one family – and the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians and others must unite to do away with the corruption and injustice under the BN. That call for a unity of purpose went down well with the crowd. He also promised free education for all, a lowering of oil prices, and affordable health care.
“Do you want Pak Lah’s economic corridors or free education?” he asked the crowd.
“Free education,” they yelled back.
“Do you want these economic corridors or lower oil prices?”
He also warned the crowd to be wary of phantom voters “rising from the dead at night” to come out and vote this morning. He urged voters to come out in sufficiently large numbers to overwhelm any phantom votes.
Several police trucks rumbled by slowly on the road nearby creating some consternation, but nothing happened.
Anwar stressed to the crowd the last time the BN lost its two-thirds majority was in 1969, but this time there would be no trouble. Unlike the run-up to the 1969 election when there was palpable ethnic tension in the air, this time, the Malays, Chinese and Indians were united against the BN, he pointed out.
All the candidates in the area, a string of them under a PKR slate and a female teacher from Pas, were introduced and received loud cheers. One Chinese PKR candidate spoke of his moving encounter with the suffering and tears of ordinary folk living on subsistence income and poor health and wondered aloud if this was the kind of Malaysia we all wanted.
Over at Perak Lane, another 4,000 people were still out at a ceramah close to midnight, while another one was held in the Mt Erskine area.
What was most encouraging at Sungai Ara was the truly multi-ethnic composition of the crowd, all motivated to bring about change.
Update from Kelantan:
Meanwhile, Farish Noor told me after midnight that things appear to be “crazy” over in Kelantan. Amazingly, Pas supporters were already celebrating victory in Kota Bharu. But the boys from Husam Musa’s team told him that all their reports are bad and Umno is gaining ground for some reason. Buses with voters (genuine ones?) were entering Kelantan, making it impossible to predict the results now.