Memories of Machap March 27, 2007Posted 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.