Posted on August 17, 2008


With the spotlight on the venue of the forthcoming parliamentary by-election, the tempo of life in an otherwise ordinary neighbourhood has increased manifold. Urbanites who are pouring into the area in droves will greatly alarm and inconvenience the locals. No doubt some locals will benefit from increased business. For a time, some locals may bask in the focus placed on them.

But the inconvenience may soon far outweigh the benefits. The infrastructure of essential utilities- electricity, water- and roadways and accommodation are pushed to the fullest limit.

Everything in life has limits. Inconvenience will soon precipitate adverse reactions. This too can have impact on the by-elections results. Yes the Permatang Pauh carnival is built around a by-election. And in an election, registered voters are the people who matter. Only they can cast their vote. The battle will be won (or lost) not by which candidate will be able to garner the majority of supporters but by the number of registered voters who will cast their votes for a particular candidate.

With the number of non-voting supporters almost matching the number of registered voters, for sure the visitors will soon outlive their welcome. Irritate these registered voters and you may lose the election for your candidate.

If indeed this by-election will shape the direction of politics for the entire nation, supporters for the possible future leader of the nation should think quick and deep about their continued presence in PP. They need to be asked (and to ask themselves) what they are doing in PP. Will their continued presence add value to their candidate’s campaign? Do they have specific roles to play or are they there to take on the atmosphere or gain experience to put into their cv? A battle-field is not a place for by-standers or curiosity-seekers. Better for saudara candidate that excess humanity leave the scene to those who are there to do their work. Don’t consume electricity and water or occupy roadway and parking. Come away and follow the campaign through alternative media like Malaysia Today.

For those who remain to really assist the campaign, be very careful of how you tread in PP, how you talk, how you behave. Put on ordinary clothes, choose agreeable colours, always and in every situation be courteous, considerate and respectful of the locals. Beri laluan dan ruang kepada orang kampung. Adopt local customs and ways.

Yes we have an important message to convey to voters but do so in the fashion of the new politics we are trying to usher in. Don’t take on the bullyish, crude, arrogant, hooliganish manners of the outgoing regime. Reformasi is our goal but it is not just a word we shout on the street but a manner of behaving and dealing with the local folks. To be convinced they need to see us as reformed people with refined manners.

During the People’s Revolution of the Philippines, the most astounding scene which will be forever etched in my mind and heart, is that of the nuns- calm, steady, quiet, sure, confident and ever-smiling- going from soldier to soldier putting a stock of flower into the barrel of their guns.

Don’t give any one cause for concern. Don’t annoy anyone. Don’t alienate anyone. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t be rude. Don’t be domineering or dominating or obnoxious. In short, DON’T BE LOUD.

Posted in: Perspective