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Memories of Machap March 27, 2007

Posted by elizabethwong in Democracy, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics.

I have fond memories of what city folks here call ‘rural Melaka’. Took about a couple hundred of photos during the 1999 campaign.

My theory is that every time urbanites move out of handphone range, they go, “Ah….rural…”

Those days, finding Astro in Machap would have been a rarity. We could hardly get TV3 reception at the operations room, not to mention handphone coverage. But due to sheer will and surprisingly efficient Telekoms, we were plugged into the internet by Day 2.

Machap was where I had my first taste of electioneering during the 1999 General Elections. My old friend, Tian Chua, was the KeADILan candidate for the parliamentary seat of Selandar, against MCA’s vice-president Fong Chan On.

KeADILan at that time was only 7 months old.

Our old gang who was still living abroad contributed to Tian’s election fund and those who were in the country came to help. The Suaram office closed up and a third of us moved to Selandar – Tian being our former staff member (the other half went to help Sivarasa and Syed Husin Ali). A couple of Tian’s old friends even flew back to assist in the campaign.

We spent about a week there, sleeping on mats together with about 20, 30 people – students, NGOs, lots of young people – on the cold concrete floor. It was a case of, “Look, floor space!” – collapse.

I lost around 10 pounds too, as I discovered young students had a voracious appetite. A giant plate of Hokkien Mee went faster than locusts feasting on leaves, and with the eateries closing at 10 pm, there were no second chances.

The affable and studious-looking Zamani was running in Bukit Sedanan, now known as Machap. In the other 2 DUNs were PAS and DAP candidates whose names I can’t recall at this point.

What I do remember of the DAP candidate was this:- For the first time, he had to do the walkabout in the so-called ‘Malay’ areas, due to our insistence. The poor chap was so nervous that he didn’t want to go on his own, until both PAS and KeADILan accompanied him.

After a few houses, he relaxed a little as he realised the residents weren’t planning on throwing pots and pans at him just because he’s Chinese. He became more confident as we visited more houses. The next day, he was keen enough to ask where else he could be campaigning!

We may have lost the elections then, but if we had managed to expand this person’s view of his fellow Malaysians, that our ‘new’ politics meant a kinder, gentler and all-inclusive Malaysia, it was a ‘win’ for our future.

Am I sad that my friend, KeADILan’s Ginie Lim, wasn’t given an opportunity to run in the by-election? Without a doubt. Not only is she young, solid and feisty, her family are locals there. When she returned for a visit and for the party division’s AGM last weekend, people went up to her to inquire about her family’s well-being and to tell her in private that they were disappointed too.

I still miss Machap’s Hokkien Mee from time to time. I hope I’ll be able to join her for a meal there in the very near future.



1. kittykat46 - March 27, 2007

Hi Elizabeth,
I grew up in a community (can’t even call it a town) near Machap, across the state boundary in Negeri Sembilan. Yes, a Chinese kampung kid who has travelled very far. My family moved to the city years ago, but I still know people there.

I dropped by there last Sunday, I’ve never seen so many cars with KL numberplates there before. Lots of luxury cars, too. Looks like a lot of BN bigshots are in town.

MCA is heavily entrenched in Machap, I’m quite sure they will win again. But UMNO’s antics have worried people here as much as anywhere else in the country. I think DAP will get a lot of votes this time, but not enough to win.
BN will likely have a drastically reduced majority..

2. elizabethwong - March 28, 2007

DAP is said to be only aiming for 1800-2000 votes. It’s achievable, considering DAP’s might will be concentrated there, but not at all ambitious or strategically adequate or satisfying. If they are successful in obtaining these numbers, what with their national machinery camping there and all, then it would be a reduced majority, but not drastic enough to unsettle BN.

I only hope DAP has started their campaign. Otherwise it won’t be pretty there. But a week into the announcement in Parliament by Guan Eng that they will contest there, they are no closer to finding someone to run, apart from the previous candidate.

If DAP does badly, it will boost the confidence of BN to strike while the iron hasn’t gone stone-cold. Be prepared for early elections.

3. Gua Bay Song - March 28, 2007

I heard DAP will ask Ginie to stand under their banner.

EW: Yar. After rushing to declare the seat’s as theirs, now they realise they won’t have a decent candidate, what with the locals clamouring for some of the national leaders to run. But I’m told Ginie hasn’t been made the offer, and in any case, will not contest under their flag.

4. eyeonmalaysia - March 29, 2007

I have very fond memory of Machap, especially Machap Baru.
The good and exotic food (cheap too!!), the friendly folks, the spirit of neighbourliness where all live as one Bangsa Malaysia.
With the coming re election, Machap will undoubtedly be transformed into another poster war zone.
I hope whoever wins, Machap will be able to retain her rustic charm and the folks at Machap the spirit of sharing and togetherness.

EW: Dear ‘Eye’ – yes, it’s a really nice place. Perhaps you could do an EyeonMachap? 🙂

5. eyeonmalaysia - March 30, 2007

Dear EW,

Actually I flew over Machap late last year enroute to JB. Luckily the weather was good and I managed to get a good birdseye view of the place. I have uploaded the pic in my blog this morning. If you like, I would be happy to send you a non-watermarked higher resolution copy for your collection. Write to me : chuask@time.net.my.

6. monsterball - March 30, 2007

A MCA high profile man challenged Lim Eng Guan to stand for the Machap by-election. Barisan National must be so proud with such an idiot talking nonsense…but had he said he challenged Lim to take on Ka Ting at Machap is another story.
By the way MCA speaks….is treating Machap voters like dum fools.. Hope they realise and vote wisely..againt hypocritical toothless MCA.
I declare I am neither any party supporter…but simply cannot stand dirty politics. MCA is dirty.

7. Real Politician - April 11, 2007

DAP as usual, just a bitter. Just play democratic role in Malaysia political field. NO MORE ! Shouting, talking and blaming. That all about them.

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