Thursday, October 8, 2009

Report from the battlefront ~ Bagan Pinang

With this by-election the war between Barisan Najis and Pakatan Rakyat has shifted from the political to the spiritual dimension. BN is out in full force with massive amounts of money and an overwhelming extravagance of banners, flags and buntings - while Pakatan Rakyat has to contend with mostly insular, agrarian voters with minimal access to digital information. Will the immorality of BN's arrogance, greed and violence swing the votes once again towards CHANGE... or will Bagan Pinang vote for the status quo and the devil they know?

I join the Barisan Rakyat Bloggers in Port Dickson, led by Bernard Khoo aka Zorro, to tap directly into the by-election fever. Claire and Fauzi can't resist snapping away at the sunset while Duke keeps a watchful eye for potential Rempit attacks. We manage to finish our sup tulang and keropok unmolested.

At a Pakatan Rakyat press conference a PAS volunteer masks himself against the deadly B1N1 virus.

BN has literally smothered Port Dickson in banners, buntings and flags. Obviously, Umno has spent at least four times more than PAS on the war of party insignia. Will voters recognize this as overkill... or will they be cowed, cajoled and bribed into voting once again for the morally bankrupt Barisan Najis?

At the PAS secretariat, a frenzy of constant activity as things start hotting up...

Salahuddin Ayob, PAS campaign director briefs the media on glaring discrepancies found in the electoral roll - particularly with the postal voters, hundreds of whom are also registered as "legitimate" civilian voters. With him are PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar and PAS spokesman Mahfuz Omar.

Salahuddin informs the media that nine PAS members were injured in a vicious attack launched against the PAS Youth information center around 3:30AM. One was badly slashed with a samurai sword just outside a police station (see photos here and here). There were also reports that a PAS member had been savagely beaten up yesterday afternoon by Umno supporters.

The press prick up their ears when informed about the nocturnal eruption of gratuitous violence. You can only attend so many ceramahs before you get tired of political speeches. But blood has been spilled and word will quickly spread in Bagan Pinang that Umno instinctively resorts to violence when thwarted. The severely injured PAS member has been warded in the Port Dickson hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery.

PAS security chief Maj. Abdul Rashid Hassan Basri (ret.) briefs reporters about the early morning Umno Rempit attack. According to him there were at least a hundred Rempits involved. The PAS Youth information center was manned at the time by 14 youngsters. They called the police and were informed that the cops were having their late-night supper and would investigate later...

Major Rashid was aghast at the hooliganistic tactics engaged in by Umno. A Pakatan Rakyat vehicle parked along the road had its driver's door kicked in by Rempits.

Is it any wonder why PAS needs its own dedicated and disciplined security unit?

I enjoyed a brief chat with PAS campaign volunteers Suriah Narayanan, who came all the way from Ipoh, and Razali Lamun. We came to a unanimous agreement that the political confrontation between Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Najis had turned into a war between Human and Inhuman Values.

Our indefatigable cybercommando Fauzi Azmi is an endless source of breaking news which he constantly gathers from an extensive network on the ground and puts up on his blog, Perisik Rakyat. Fauzi learnt that every member of the armed forces stationed in Port Dickson was handed RM300 in anticipation of the postal voting which began this morning. Ordinary voters only received RM100. Guess that's what the crime minister meant when he announced that Port Dickson will be designated "an army town." Fauzi emailed me the following pics from last night's media conference with Felda settlers who told a sad tale of having been cheated big-time by former mentri besar Isa Abdul Samad...

Victims of Umno robber baron Isa Abdul Samad hold a media conference at the Negri Sembilan PKR office.

PKR's Saifuddin Nasution holds up a dud contract signed in 1996 between the Felda settlers and a defunct company on behalf of the Negri Sembilan state government under former mentri besar Isa Abdul Samad. Just another sordid Umno warlord land grab scheme... do Malaysians in general and Bagan Pinang voters deserve more of the same? (Felda settlers' media conference pics by Fauzi Azmi)

PAS supporters come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments - but, mostly, they come across as decent human beings with downhome human values and a slightly rebellious nature.

Local youth helps the PAS campaign by manning the information booth.

Encik Mohamed from Kuala Lumpur tells me in perfect English he was once an Umno Class A contractor. Then he got his fingers burnt and came to his senses...

One of the highlights of this morning's press conference was meeting the gutsy V. Sivakumar, the legitimate Speaker of the Perak state assembly. Yes, he's on my facebook friends list! :-)

Blogger Central for the Bagan Pinang by-election. Heartfelt thanks to Alan D'Cruz for hosting the Special Bunch and everybody else who contributed to the cause by making us coffee, buying us lunch, serving us pumpkin soup and yogurt vadai - and generally being the best company anybody could possibly hope for. The general feeling about Bagan Pinang is that the odds appear overwhelmingly stacked in favor of Barisan Najis - but miracles do happen and even a 10-vote win for PAS would ensure the rapid demise of an utterly corrupt, arrogant and irredeemable Umno/BN regime. Let's pray for a miracle, folks.

Images & captions by Antares

NEWSFLASH: Tomorrow, 9 October, Anwar Ibrahim will be making his rounds in Bagan Pinang. That should liven things up even more and perhaps turn the tide around. Who else but Anwar can get through to even those who are only beginning to wake up from 52 years of gross misgovernance?

Port Dickson municipal workers dismantle a billboard put up in the heart of town by Pakatan Rakyat while a police light strike force stands guard. Pic courtesy of The Malaysian Insider.