Ceramah or public rally is the most popular and effective public interaction during election campaign in Malaysia. For this momentous election, the 13th since our independence in 1957, contestants have been speaking to their constituents and, if they are national figures, to the electorates all over the country, to push through their agenda and persuading support. Today is the final day of campaigning which must end by midnight. Election begins from 8.00am Sunday local time. Last night I attended my first and only ceramah in town to savor the ambience and mood of the event personally although I've watched many recorded on YouTube. But to be there in person can make all the difference to one's perception.
During dinner my son-in-law suggested attending the ceramah which will be held in the open car park of the central market. I agreed to go with my wife. We don't know if 5 years from now at the next general election we will be able so this may be our last chance. I'm glad we did. We managed to get a nice parking spot about 200 meters from the stage. We walked towards where the speaker's voice boomed from the loud speakers. Soon we entered the fringe of a crowd of listening ears. Standing among them for awhile I looked all around. Faces of folks in open shirts, shirts and slippers seriously followed the screen and the stage set on top the flatbed of a trailer lorry. I melted into the crowd being similarly dressed. Most listeners were standing but some sat on whatever surface they can find. The crowd was estimated at 15,000, small by the nightly responses to ceramahs by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat or People's Coalition. It was nonetheless huge because there was no superstar speaker that draw in huge crowds that can swell attendance to 30,000, 50,000, 70,000 or even 100,000. Unbelievable considering that what the government coalition attracted 10% or less those numbers, even with free food to entice the people to come. It is surely the sign of change, not curiosity. Ceramah attendance is an accurate barometer of the sentiment of the public to whom they will support in the election. Because PR have little campaign funds they rely on public donations to defray their running expenses. Amazingly at last night rally donors gave over RM50,000 towards the organizers. The amount speaks volume about the trust these donors have that PR will be the better and people centric government.
I took pictures on my ipad and posted them on my Facebook to share. I cheered with the crowd because I believe the PR is more trustworthy and deserving of a convincing win tomorrow. The last speaker sang a popular Cantonese song and those in the crowd know it sang along. It was like a carnival. Finally the ceramah ended with the singing of the Ubah theme song of DAP, one of the three component parties of PR, a stirring call to true Malaysians to make a difference this time, to care for the poor and marginalized, to restore our dignity and respect for ourselves and among the global community.