February 12, 2013
BN CNY Psy Bash: Jottings from a Psy-chologist
by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT: Napoleon once famously observed that god is on the side of the big battalions. This may be true of military battles but yesterday some Penangites furnished reason to believe that in electoral ones, the deity may not always favour the Goliaths.
On Sunday morning, the first day of the Lunar New Year, celebrants in George Town awoke from their feasting at family reunion dinners of the previous evening to find their city decked in endless rows of blue ‘1Malaysia’ flags.
Thousands of these flags were posted along every major street of George Town and several minor ones. The Mat Rempit crowd would have relished this chance to earn several quid putting up these flags in the hours before dawn when they would normally be tearing down freeways along the coast.
The plethora of flags was a sign of the clout BN is able to wield.It was as if an invading army had sent out an advance team to display signs of their intent to descend in numbers and complete the invasion.
Penangites knew that the big battalions of the BN had begun with a preamble of which the finale was the grand Chinese New Year bash at the large grounds of the Han Chiang High School in Jalan Lim Lean Teng, opposite the state mosque.
The following report was sent to me by a friend who was there. It makes for interesting reading:
Quote–It was advertised that the gates would open at 7am. We thought it was important to try and get there early to get a seat in the shade. We arrived before 8am. By then there were already a few hundred people there, but still lots of room.
Our first attempt to get a seat under cover was rebuffed by a friendly but insistent Rela-person, who explained we needed lapel stickers. These were easily obtained nearby from whom we assumed were BN operatives, as behind them were scores of cardboard boxes containing BN-branded half-litre water bottles.
Once into what we further assumed was some kind of VIP area, we got five shaded seats about five rows back from an open area next to the stage. By any standards this seemed an excellent result.
Incredibly, on each plastic seat there was one free copy of Utusan Malaysia, two plastic-sealed at first unidentified gizmos that looked like a pair of black drinking straws stuck together, and a cartoon book with rude (and likely libelous) stories about Anwar Ibrahim, Karpal Singh, Lim Guan Eng, and others in the Opposition camp. The ‘drinking straws’ turned out to be a plastic ‘banner’, with the BN ‘balance scales’ on one side and ‘I [heart] PM’ on the other.
Both the banners and the newspapers were a godsend for those in the sun. I can report that Utusan can offer excellent shade, if little else of value. Copies of Utusan were trodden on and widely scattered. One young man had an ‘I [heart] PM’ banner over his head, attached to each ear. Another crossed out the M of PM and with a felt tip pen made his own sign: I [heart] PSY. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Dancers various came and went, most of whom had been at the Penang Chief Minister’s Open House the previous day. Once again we’d argue that the Indian dancers stole the show.
And then, three hours after we arrived, the VVIPs arrived.Simultaneously, the volume of the public address system went up from perhaps 90dB to at least 120dB. Decibels are on a log scale and so this is much worse than it looks at first sight.
The THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) simultaneously increased from approximately negligible to an estimated 20 percent. The noise was paralysing. The same happened last year at the BN CNY bash at the Tanjong City Marina.
Why do they do it? Do you have to be deaf to be a BN supporter? Luckily, we’d remembered to bring earplugs, which when securely rammed in reduced the noise to just tolerable levels.
It can’t just be a Malaysian thing. We’ve been to the last three Chief Minister’s CNY Open Houses at Pisa, at which the volume was kept well within bounds. I remember last year nodding a ‘thank you’ to the sound engineer at the mixing desk.
Okay, so wild over-amplification probably doesn’t matter all that much in the great scheme of things. In Row Five we’d thought we’d have a good view of the proceedings.
But as the VVIPs arrived a gate was opened and the mob was allowed into the open area in front of us. Most had umbrellas.
Those in Rows 1-4 stood on their chairs (and copies of Utusan) to see the show. Thus we saw nothing at all because even the big TV screens were obscured. I’ve now been to two BN CNY events and have yet to see the PM. Which is neither here nor there, but those behind us were furious.
Note to the organisers: Those in the front have to sit. Those in the middle can sit on chairs. Those in the back can stand. Then everyone can see.
The Penang BN chief spoke adequately, partly in Mandarin and partly in English. The PM’s son made a brief speech in Mandarin that was quite warmly received, and then the PM started on his bellowing ‘Satu Malaysia’ routine.
He promised a monorail if BN wins back Penang. The crowd seemed distinctly underwhelmed. There might even have been boos in lieu of cheers. And then, at last, the sainted Psy arrived. By his own account he was jet-lagged after a 20 hour non-stop flight from Brazil.
But he did his Gangnam style song well, with fine backing dancers modestly attired in leggings. (We caught a glimpse on the way out; to repeat, we could see nothing at all from our seats.)
And then he did it again. And then he stopped and we all went home. After the first version finished we stormed the exit, to catch the second bus out of the place.
Not in a million years
Was it a good use of an alleged several million Ringgit-plus spent on the affair? Of course not! But good luck to Psy. He’s found a rich seam in comedy-rap with a catchy rhythm that apparently appeals to almost all.
On the bus going home there was a twenty-something wearing a BERSIH T-shirt. The bus driver said he admired his bravery. We asked if he’d had any grief. “None at all,” he said, least of all from the Police. Perhaps One Malaysia means something after all!– Unquote