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Friday, March 7, 2008

A Glimmer Of Hope, Perhaps?

I feel tired, but good at the same time.

It's not every day you hear of a 16 year-old volunteering to help campaign for an Opposition party for the elections.

I just did that.

To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure, or keen to do it. I mean, I didn't know what to expect, for one thing, and besides that, I thought I would feel kind of uncomfortable, in the presence of politicians.

Little did I know that this was to be a very enriching experience, that taught me a thing or two.

A few days back, I had started on folding of Parti Keadilan Rakyat leaflets to be distributed to the houses around my area. That was barely nothing really, since there was to be no interaction of any sort with strangers.

Today, however, the first thing I started to help with at the Bilik Gerakan (Operation Centre) was the packaging of items, such as caps, flags, stickers and what not, which would be brought to the various polling stations. I also continued with folding of leaflets, before being instructed to go on the walkabout to join the convoy, together with R. Sivarasa, the Parliamentary candidate.

We started by driving around a kampung area somewhere near Sungai Buloh, which had barely anyone in it. Still though, that's where the fun began. We were waving flags from inside the car, whistling to get people's attention, and speaking messages like "Harga petrol dan toll semakin tinggi! Parti Keadilan janji akan menurunkan harga petrol dan toll! Undilah Parti Keadilan!"

On the road, it was great to see support. As the four cars drove in a single file, other cars that passed by were giving us honks, in support. After the first kampung though, it started to rain, so we had to wind up the windows and continue driving, pretty much aimlessly, since we couldn't continue with campaigning.

We decided to make our way to The Store, some sort of shopping complex, not too far from where we were. It was so dreary, and apparently we weren't allowed to go into the complex, so Sivarasa had to make his 'speech' outside the complex, where there were people gathered outside, not to listen to him, but to wait for taxis? It was kinda sad, cause the response from the crowd was very minimal, with some people ignoring us who were walking around giving out the leaflets. After Sivarasa's 'speech', there was no applause, no reception, nothing. Ptooi.

Just when we thought things were getting worse, the rain stopped. We ended up going to another 'taman' area, where we continued or campaigning. This time though, we actually got down from the car to distribute leaflets to inhabitants.

From what I observed, mostly kids were running to us, wanting the leaflets. As I gave them out, I wondered, is there really any point? Kids can't vote anyway. But then there were adults who also showed their support when we gave them the leaflets. They were giving us words of encouragement and said they were supporters.

In my opinion, the best was yet to come. And that happened when we went to a pasar malam, not too far from the Bilik Gerakan. It was a huge thing, and the plan was to go one round around the place slowly, with Sivarasa standing on the back of a Ford Ranger-like vehicle, with us the 'followers' walking behind, holding placards high up in the air, distributing leaflets, car stickers, flags, and other freebies. The great thing was the response from the crowd was overwhelming, from an opposition party's point of view. People crowded around us, taking the freebies and all. Sivarasa made his speeches, and at least this time there were people listening.

The irony of it all was that there were BN flags in nearly every corner of the place. Yet, it felt as if we could reach out to the general public without any restrictions of any sort. There were people who even shook Sivarasa's hand, not just because he was a politician, but more of because they were supporting him and Keadilan.

We continued our good job inside the market itself. Still though, at times I was under the impression as if people were giving us the attention we deserved only because they wanted freebies, and not because they supported Keadilan. There was one guy who went:

RANDOM GUY : Saya nak topi tu! (points at my cap)

ME : Sorry la, ni dah habis dah.

RANDOM GUY : Ala, macam mana boleh macam tu? Macam tu tak boleh support la dah!

Despite that setback, there were real supporters out there. There was a seller who told us:

SELLER : Mesti menang la tahun ni.

From a motorcyclist who yelled "Hidup Keadilan!" while riding his bike, to a dude who had his fist in the air, followed by frantic honking in support of the party, today was simply a great experience, a real eye opener. I feel as if I have done a great deed, no matter the outcome of tomorrow's election. I'll be keeping up the good work at the polling station nearest to my house, being involved in the last part of campaigning for PKR.

BN pays people 300 ringgit a day for this kind of campaigning work.

Opposition parties pay people 0 ringgit for this kind of campaigning work.

In my eyes, I prefer to be willing to do this kind of thing without getting paid a single cent, instead of doing it for the money.

However, we can't deny the fact that BN will win tomorrow. Two-thirds majority or not, they'll manage to pull some strings and grab victory as usual.

Page 12 of The Star reads:

In Rembau, Anwar said he was confident the Opposition would win and "our first duty to the people is to bring down oil prices."

"God willing, we will win on March 8. You tell those Barisan (Nasional) boys we will win," he said.

I really hope so.

1 comment:

dylanlee said...