Saturday, August 16, 2008
The War Zone: Permatang Pauh
So it's my first time attending nomination day for a by-election. We took off early from the hotel and drove to Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun together with DSHH convoy. As we entered the main road leading to the entrance, Permatang Pauh once again reminded BN that we are the underdogs and are not welcomed there. At 0730, the area was already flooded with PKR flags, banners and supporters chanting Anwar's name and the normal "Reformasi" war cry. Our cars in the convoy were subject to abuse from kicking, knocking and harmless projectiles flying from all directions. I was told that the previous by-elections were worse, so I took it as being "normal".
We exited the cars and walked to the BN assembly area. Dozens of bodyguards guided their political masters to the muster area. FRUs falled in, ready to be mobilized to their stations. The field was divided into two main sections for the two major sides. It was obvious the size of the support for PKR was at least 3 times more. However, BN didn't come unprepared and was ready for a fight anytime.
It looked like one of the scenes in the "Last Samurai". On one side, the Japanese imperial army was massive and ready to stampede on everything in it's path. On the other side, the Samurai, although in a small number, were ready to put up a good fight, knowing that a certain death is imminent.
After the candidates were announced, we escorted DSHH and KJ out of the premise. Regardless of "teams", on that day, everyone put on their "BN" cap and forgot about party elections. As usual, fans of DSHH flocked around trying to at least shake their idol's hand and quickly take a snapshot with camera phones ready in eager hands. We were squished and pushed around. As soon as we were out of the premise, rain came. Drenched in our white and blue gear, we marched calmly to the nearest shelter and waited the rain out. When it slowed down to a drizzle, we walked again to get to our cars.
PKR fans were hurling insults and throwing harmless projectiles at us, trying to target DSHH and KJ. Some were taunting DSHH openly. He just walked off, acting all was cool. We formed a human shield around the "most wanted targets" while hearing things like "why the hell did you raise the fuel price" and "get the hell out of here". I was in suspense, looking around me and anticipating any fool that could just run into our direction with a dangerous weapon, despite the presence of hundreds of cops, uniformed and plain clothed.
When the convoy came to pick us up, I could only get onto the back of a pick up truck. With my clothes all drenched and having at least another 7 of our friends on the same truck, everyone just held on to something like our lives depended on it while the pick up tried to catch up with the convoy in front. The rain hit our skin like a million sharp needles.
When we got back to the hotel in one piece and were enjoying our cantonese fried kuew teoy, I just felt it was probably the best weekends I had in a long time. Who said politics was boring?