It is amazing what you can learn by talking to people at a hawker centre in Penang.
Here’s what I found out this morning:
University students are wary about expressing their views if they are critical of the ruling coalition or supportive of opposition parties for fear of reprisals. You can’t be too careful; you never know who is going to snitch on you.
Apart from spam messages urging people to vote for BN, a couple of people have received SMS birthday greetings apparently from a local BN candidate (in mainland Penang and in Sabah). I saw an SMS text birthday greeting that had the recipient’s full name, age and the name of the sender, the BN candidate from mainland Penang who allegedly sent it, and his parliamentary constituency. Have you received similar birthday greetings?
Some kind of lucky draw and more handouts are in store for Penang. One source told me she saw a leaflet announcing that 40 people are to be selected from each of the 40 state constituencies in Penang to receive RM500 each for a total of RM800,000 to be given away. To be eligible you had to put up 1Malaysia flags or posters or wear 1Malaysia T-shirts or aprons. You could also give your name and IC number to participate in some kind of lucky draw. Another reported that he had seen such leaflets all over town. Have you seen them?
One coffee shop patron said he was intentionally reading The Star in front of others. A group at another table asked why he was reading the paper. He replied, “I am just reading it to see how stupid it (the paper) can get,” whereupon the group at the other table roared with laughter.
Another group handed to me a booklet outlining the concerns of a ‘Gerakan Perubahan Ibu Bapa’, some kind of group articulating the concerns of senior citizens. The booklet discusses:
- why the nation is ailing,
- how corruption is plaguing the country,
- how to improve ethnic relations,
- why it is said the present electoral process is unfair,
- abuse of power, crime and security concerns,
- how to handle multiple crises facing the nation, and
- what is driving the movement for change.
- The booklet ends by dismissing any concerns about post-electoral instability.
The group’s position is that it wants to end the 50 years of corruption, cronyism and abuse of power andthe race-based hegemony of power under which ruling cliques divide the spoils of power. In its place, the group wants the country to move towards a people-centred political system, democratic consultation and unity in diversity.
What have you heard or seen in coffee-shops and hawker centres?