Some 20,000 to 25,000 people are reportedly expected to attend a record-breaking nasi kandar feast while seated cross-legged in Permatang Pauh later this morning (17 August).
The event, apparently dubbed Majlis Kenduri Rakyat dan Pemimpin Bersama Rakyat’ was held at Politeknik Seberang Perai from 10.30am to 1.30pm.
Organisers said the turnout was over 21,000, with the participants’ registrations to back that figure. My own estimate of those seated on mats was that it was about half that figure. Check out the photos here.
The organiser told the crowd that no one had been paid to attend and indeed there were not many buses around outside the main entrance of the polytechnic. But there was plenty of free food as well as a string of pasar tani stalls.
Just ahead of the event, about a dozen PKR youth activists were detained outside the polytechnic. PKR Youth had planned a flash mob to greet Najib on his arrival.
From what I hear, polytechnics in Malaysia are having their holidays this week. But one parent whose daughter is in this particular polytechnic told me that the week-long holiday at this particular polytechnic’s holidays had been postponed.
A Permatang Pauh Polytechnic student from Seremban, who was at the venue, confirmed this. “Our lecturers told us to attend,” she said, adding that she was not a BN supporter. “We were told attendance was compulsory. She added that their holidays had been postponed because of this event.
Indeed, groups of polytechnic students bunched together were seen wandering around the tents aimlessly, some of them taking selfies and looking uninterested in the proceedings, others enjoying the welcome break.
Others present included civil servants from various departments, teachers and federal village security and development committee (JKKKP) representatives from various localities. From what I heard, various schools in the state were apparently sending half a dozen teachers each to this event.
Najib’s visit to Permatang Pauh today is reminiscent of his visit to Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang on 8 December 2012, five months before the 2013 general election. Some 15,000 people turned up for that event, many of them bussed in from all over the state in blue factory workers’ buses and orange school buses (see photos).
In an apparent dig at Mahathir (though he did not mention him by name), Najib slammed those who made U-turns. “Tak payah sebut nama.” He then urged the people of Permatang Pauh to make their own U-turn.
Once again, this kind of event raises the question, how can the premises of an educational institution be used for what appears a thinly disguised political event? (Umno logos were printed on banners inside the polytechnic grounds.) Would the state government or opposition parties be allowed similar access?
At the afternoon event at Spice in Penang for the launch of the Northern Region Economic Corridor 2.0 blueprint, thousands of students from the northern region – including Kedah and Perlis – attended. A senior teacher told me school principals in the state were also required to attend this event after school dismissal today.