Some 250 people turned up at the Catholic Church in Pulau Tikus in Penang tonight to listen to Dr Francis Loh presenting a talk on election issues that should concern Malaysians.
Though the crowd might seem small, a similar talk at the same church in 1999, at the height of the reformasi period, drew only about 150.
Meanwhile, I spoke to a few working class Muslims in Penang, picked out at random, and asked them their views about the elections. A simple straw poll: a taxi driver (who turned out to be a PKR supporter), a security guard and a petrol pump attendant. They each told me that there was a mood for change, people have opened their eyes, the prices of essential items was too high etc. Umno might still be a formidable force, the taxi driver said, but there is a slight shift in support among the Malays towards the opposition. The petrol pump attendant told me something similar.
A retired police personnel, for his part, informed me he heard some “influential” grapevine people in the Weld Quay area have been telling Chinese Malaysians that even if the Opposition were to put up a monkey as a candidate in their area, vote for the monkey! Such is the sentiment in some circles.
Many Indian Malaysians already appear to have swung to the Opposition, riding on the Makkal Sakthi fervour. Everyday, I receive SMSes from Indian Malaysians urging people to vote for the Opposition. These SMSes come from the most unlikely sources, from people you would not normally think of as being politically concerned or awakened.
Meanwhile, other SMSes have been flying around in Penang informing people that Anwar and Guan Eng are speaking tomorrow (Saturday) night at the Han Chiang indoor stadium in Penang, which apparently can accommodate only 1,000 people. That ceramah should see a huge, overflowing crowd. At this time of the night, I have no way of verifying if the event is actually taking place, so better check before you head out there.
Still, it’s hard to predict the outcome – the illegal bookies seem to know better – so I won’t even try. But I think its safe to say that a string of seats are going to fall into Opposition hands, compared to their present tally of just two out of 40 state assembly seats.