August 11, 2012
Lenggong endorses Anwar’s Castigation of UMNO-BN’s Governance
by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com
A subdued Anwar Ibrahim played tutor to some 2,000 people in Lenggong, Perak last night who had gathered to hear the putative head of Pakatan Rakyat convince them that the electoral repudiation they are contemplating was essential to the country’s future.
Lenggong is an UMNO bastion, regularly returning its nominees to Parliament and Perak’s state assembly, and restricting support to opposition parties to only 30 percent of the vote.
These days 30 percent is a viable electoral proposition for the Opposition given that Chinese voters, who compose 18 percent of the Lenggong electorate, are unabashedly for Pakatan and the Malays are said to be divided between UMNO-BN and Pakatan.
Lenggong lies on the lee side of the Main Range, 45km east of Kuala Kangsar on the road to Gerik, its predominantly Malay denizens (81 percent of the electorate) having produced almost all of Perak’s menteris besar since independence, a bit of political history that belies the apparent docility of the populace and the serene feel for life’s rhythms noticeable among its hill country folk.
Early arrivals at the last night’s PKR-organised ceramah would not have suspected that the crowd would be as big as it eventually was because of the small numbers who had straggled on to a football field just off the main Kuala Kangsar-Gerik road, a short distance before a right turn that brings visitors to Lenggong proper.
But on leaving the ceramah venue an hour and a half after its start time of 10.15pm, the crowd that was seen filing away from the shadows and recesses of houses fringing the field was far more substantial than was evident from the numbers seated on mats and cardboard sheets on the field during the speeches.
Apparently, Lenggong’s lot does not believe in tipping its presence. That discretion was discernible from the reception they gave Anwar when he arrived which was distinctly short of the fervour that normally attends the opposition leader’s advent, with people scurrying to shake his hand and rousing to the battle cry of “reformasi, reformasi.”
Perhaps the lack of exuberance was due of the fasting month and the premium it places on self-possession.
Anwar himself was in not in the mood for the expansive gesture, speaking in subdued tones in keeping with the mortifying rigours of Islam’s holiest month such that the emcee’s disclosure at the end that it was the lead speaker’s 65th birthday hardly raised a stir.
However, there was no mistaking, even in the understated tenor of the evening’s proceedings, the spontaneity of the ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ rippling through the crowd whenever Anwar punched a point in his castigation of UMNO-BN’s record of governance.
Dataran Kek Yam, which is the name of the place where the ceramah was held, is a long way away from similarly-named but more august gatherings places along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but in its rusticity and apparent isolation from the main information grids of the nation, you would think it improbable that there could be a link between the spontaneity of those ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ and its source.
But, as Anwar is so fond of citing the wisdom of the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, that one should never underestimate the intelligence of the masses, Lenggong’s evident rusticity should not deceive one into thinking that its people are on the outs with what is to be had on the Internet.
These days physical attenuation is not tantamount to an informational disconnect and Gasset may well be turn out to be godfather to Lenggong electorate’s repudiation of its customary voting behaviour.