I arrived at the Tengku Bainun teaching institute at about 6pm today, where the Election Commission announce the results of the Permatang Pauh (P44) by-election.
I skipped going to seberang Jaya to cover the phantom voters episode as many of my reporter friends were already there. I didn’t want to ‘steal’ their exclusives 🙂
The first thing I noticed, apart from the swelling crowd, was the heavy police presence. The people were cordoned off from the elevated stage. Bard wires, which could prove injurious, fenced the plastic blockades.
“What if I fell or pushed from the back?” asked someone in the crowd. He was clearly annoyed “Wouldn’t it be disastrous?”
It was intimidating, and “an insult to our intelligence,” said Zul, an old friend I met, who came to hear the P44 results, but found instead a similar situation to the 100,000 people’s gathering in Kesas Highway in November 2000.
This friend remembered me as I was witness no. 8 in SUHAKAM’s public enquiry following countless complaints of massive police violence and abuses at the rally. He was witness no. 3.
I decided to become witness as the beatings by FRU personnel on ordinary civilians happened before my eyes. I was a journalist with Malaysiakini then.
That FRU guy in the middle was pointing at me, as I was driving past and taking his photo. I was also lookinhg for a parking space.
Everyone who gathered at the counting centre was pissed off with the parade of FRU personnel, ready with head-gear and batons.
To me, it was akin to a war zone.
An international election observer I met from Thailand remarked: They (FRU) are ready to fight. But the people are not. So, let’ s wait and see what they will do”.
The guy in the middle is blogger BLACK, who is monitoring the elections for the National Institute of Elections Integrity (NIEI).
As I entered the field together with the anxious crowd, a feeling of light-heartedness came over me. A feeling of victory and freedom was in the air as well. “Come, take a photo of me,” said this young PAS supporter.
Despite the massive police force, the place turned out to be a carnival, or rather picnic, with women and children, making themselves comfortable on mats. It started to drizzle also, but hey, who cares?
“We are sending Anwar Ibrahim to Parliament,” they seem to say.
Word went from mouth to mouth, sms-es kept beeping on mobile phones with only one message: Anwar had captured P44 with a startling big majority.
“UMNO is finished. We have burried them,” said a couple of Youths nearby.
And he was probably right.
When I tried to look for BN/UMNO supporters on the other side of the field, guess what I found.
A bare field. Emptiness and total misery. There was not a single BN/UMNO supporter in sight. “This shows they have lost,” said PKR supporters.
This was the same field when, on nomination day on August 16, several UMNO supporters acted out the sodomy act in front of PKR supporters.
My dear readers, you should have been there with me, if only for us to meet 🙂