Mammoth crowds at Kuching, Sibu rallies
FREE DAY 5 What's happening in the state election campaigns around Sarawak today? Quotable quotes, planned events and unplanned incidents as they take place.
10am: The best selling Chinese paper in Sibu See Hua Daily today runs a 36-pages supplement, highlighting the policies and results of the BN Sarawak government.
Although the supplement, that appears in a news feature format, is believed to be a BN advertorial there is no such mention in the paper.
Four other local dailies, include Sin Chew Daily , New Strait Times , Berita Harian and Harian Metro , also ran similar supplements two days ago.
Local Malay daily Utusan Borneo also publishes a 40-page pullout titled ‘Development’, that trumpets all the claimed development projects under the BN Sarawak government.
Yesterday another Malay daily Utusan Sarawak published a 56-page special pullout that also applauded BN's contribution to the development of Sarawak.
Besides the special pullouts, BN's full-page colour advertisements have also been appearing in local dailies since yesterday.
10.45am: SUPP chief George Chan has denied his muscular-looking billboard image was a doctored picture.
In a Sin Chew Daily report, the 74-year-old Chan showed off his muscles to reporters and claimed that he trains hard for it.
The disputed billboards have been erected mainly in Miri, where Chan is defending his Piasau seat.
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng last Friday mocked the billboards asking since when Chan had become a “muscle man”, and the topic became a popular joke at DAP’s ceramah used to jeer the SUPP chief.
10.30am : DAP Bawang Assan candidate Alice Lau ( left ) visits several Iban longhouse settlements along Igan river.
She only manages to enter three longhouses to speak with some 60 villagers, as longhouse headmen had received instructions not to entertain opposition candidates.
At Kg Banyok, a longhouse area of 200 voters, only one longhouse head and PKR supporter welcomes Alice by allowing her to enter his house.
She stays for half and hour and talks about the need to change the incumbent state government.
She points out that even the village, located an hour’s boat ride from Sibu, is still deprived of water and electricity supply.
The locals warn journalists, who are tagging along, not to photograph the long house headmen fearing this would get them into trouble.
Most of the other longhouse headmen decline Alice's visit.
11.30am: DAP has put up a billboard satirising SUPP’s ‘1 heart for Sibu’ billboard. Standing next to each other, DAP’s imitates SUPP’s in design but reads ‘1 heart for Pek Moh (Taib)’.
11.30am: Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) tears down a miniature DAP Rocket replica at Sibu Gateway saying that it did not get the council’s approval.
DAP responds criticising the council for a conflict of interest, since the council chairperson Tiong Thai King is also the SUPP candidate for Dudong.
"This is election material and I disagree that it is against the rule," says Sarawak DAP chief and Bukit Assek candidate Wong Ho Leng.
"We have paid RM3,000 for the election materials deposit. So, what reason did the SMC have to tear down the replica?"
A SMC spokeperson, however, defends the action stressing that Sibu Gateway is a public park and anyone who wants to use the location needs to apply to the council.
Tiong refuses to comment when contacted by Malaysiakini.
12.15pm: Meanwhile at Igan River at the Banyok longhouse, Gerusen anak Jawan, 47, the only headman who welcomes DAP’s Alice Lau confirms that longhouse headmen had been instructed not to entertain Lau.
A villager there expresses his love for BN and incumbent chief minister Taib Mahmud. He also condemns Sibu MP Wong Ho Leng for never visiting the village.
Lau visits a second Iban settlement in Sg Pinang, of where she is allowed to enter three longhouses.
However, after talking with them and distributing leaflets and CDs, the villagers start asking for money.
Lau says that at that point, she realises her visit is futile.
12.30pm: As Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak lands in Sarawak tonight to start his 6-day campaign, DAP rings the alarm and calls out danger.
"From today, we will start facing a tough challenge. Not only i it s difficult for us to defend ourselves against the prime minister, but also the resources he will bring along.
"If we cannot defend ourselves, DAP seats may reduced from the current 6 seats," said the party strategist Liew Chin Tong ( below ) at their daily press conference in Sibu.
He adds that there is rampant money politics and irregularities in Meradong, Kuching and Sibu.
The Bukit Bendera MP also stresses that the election is no mere state election, but is now practically a general election.
"We hope for more people participation in the campaign. We hope the outstation voters can come back to vote."
"This is no more a fight between DAP against other political parties, but it is a fight between Sarawakians against Taib and the prime minister."
1pm: In Kuching vendors getting ready to pack up at Satok Weekend Market take some time off to read Satok PKR candidate Ahmad Nazib Johari’s flyers.
Also spotted in the bustling wet market in the Malay-majority area are banners and posters raised by several stalls.
12.15pm: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng makes his first visit to interior Sarawak since nomination day.
His ceramah at a restaurant in the quiet town of Sri Aman is an animated affair that attracts some 400 mostly Chinese audience.
"Sarawak has everything - gas, petroleum and timber, unfortunately it also has crocodile. We can shoot the crocodile with four legs, but these crocodiles are with two legs.
"So we must elect a representative (DAP's Simanggang candidate, Leon Donald) who is brave enough to catch the crocodiles with two legs," he quipped to hearty applause.
Simanggang is the state seat that encompasses Sri Aman town. It is the only Iban-majority seat contested by DAP.
The Penang CM also rebutted George Chan’s recent statement that state projects should be given to giant corporations as only they have the ability to implement them.
"He has openly said that they only take care of the big corporations. They are not representing businessmen, small and medium industries but only representing giant corporations. Can we support this kind of representative?"
1.30pm : Soon after the DAP ceramah, Lim is surrounded by dozens of members of the public asking him to autograph their soft toy Ubah they have just bought. Some grab the opportunity to take photographs with Lim.
The ceramah manages to raise RM4,424.
4.53pm: Both BN and Pakatan's top leaders will be bearing their claws at each other in Kuching tonight at separate events.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will be at attending a dinner function at the MBKS indoor stadium, Bintawa at the North-Western most point of Kuching city at 8.30pm.
His three biggest rivals PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat would be speaking at a ceramah in Batu Kawah, in the opposite side of the city.
5.00pm: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim starts his ceramah circuit in Kampong Tengah, Asajaya, followed with one at Pavillion Square, Padungan (7.30pm), Kampong Samariang (9.30pm) and the final one at Kampong Sorabaya, Petra Jaya at 10.30pm.
6.30pm: PKR promises to return NCR land to its rightful owners who had been “robbed” and at the same time send Taib Mahmud to jail.
“If we succeed to form the govern,ent, we will ensure Taib is brought to court and goes to jail,” says Kajang rep Lee Kim Sin while campaigning for PKR’s Barudi Muang at longhouse Stuga in Engkilili.
7.25pm: There is an estimated three kilometre long traffic jam leading to a DAP rally in Batu Kawah, Kuching.
Pakatan terrific trio Anwar Ibrahim, Nik Aziz and Lim Guan Eng are due to speak there at 8pm.
8pm: In Kuching, about 2,000 have packed the MBKS indoor stadium where Najib will be the guest of honour.
All participants are given a free 1Malaysia T-shirt and flag. Early
birds were given a bit of free food and drinks.
Campaigning material is not overtly present save for BN flags inside the stadium. But there is a small group distributing a full colour cartoon booklet in Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia.
One individual told Malaysiakini that he had learned of the event
through the papers and wanted to see the premier in the flesh.
"There is free food and entertainment, surely this would draw a crowd," he said.
8pm: Meanwhile in Sibu, speaking to 200 Christians at a hotel, PKR leader Tan Kee Kwong reveals that the police had approached one of the PKR candidates after nomination telling him to quit the election.
He said PKR Baleh candidate Bendindang Manjah ( right ), who is running against PRS chief James Masing, was called by special branch officer in to the Kapit police station before the three-day withdrawal period lapsed.
"The officer said, ‘we know you are in difficulty, you have an outstanding loan with a bank, (but) you can get angpau (by quitting the race)."
Tan also believes that the instruction is coming from their "superior".
"The police is now acting as a bribing agent," he accused.
He tells the crowd how Taib Mahmud has accumulated shocking wealth in his 30 years of rule, but until now MACC has not acted on him.
"You can go to read Sarawak Report ," he says, telling of the whistleblower website responsible for many Taib exposes.
As a hint of the Taib family’s immense wealth, he tells them Taib had in 1989 opened accounts for his grandchildren with RM5 million each.
"This is 1989, not his son, but his grandchildren, RM5 million each, where did the money come from?
"It is from state money that belongs to you,” says Tan.
He calls on the people to vote out Taib on polling day.
"It will decide the future of our country, not only in Sarawak, but who will form the government at Putrajaya."
Beside Tan, Selangor senior exco Teresa Kok also speaks at the rally.
8.15pm: On Pakatan’s side a roughly 3,000 strong crowd turns out near the Batu Kawah bridge for the biggest ceramah in Kuching tonight.
The crowd is expected to get bigger after the 5km long jam leading to the ceramah.
The crowd gives a rousing response to DAP candidate for Batu Kawah Christina Chew when she asks the voters to vote for her.
Batu Kawah is a semi urban area and a SUPP stronghold, but Chew is giving SUPP incumbent Tan Joo Phoi a good run for his money.
8.20pm: While Pakatan’s ‘Super Sunday’ ceramah at major cities drawing thousands of audience, in the quiet town of Sri Aman, DAP’s ceramah featuring Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi and Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Zairil Khir Johari also attracts a 400 crowd.
To the surprise of many, Padungan candidate Wong King Wei who is engaged in three-way fight with BN and former Padungan assemblyperson Dominique Ng, is also speaking at the ceramah.
Ooi's humour draws rounds of laughter and applause from the audience.
"Najib said 'you help me, I help you', but he is our servant! We elect him to serve us, why should we help him?
"Tomorrow when he comes to visit Sri Aman hospital, tell him 'you no hospital, we no help you'!" he said to roars of laughter from the crowd.
The ceramah, which was supposed to be held on the street in front of DAP’s operations centre, was forced to move into a restaurant because the police declined to grant a permit.
"Police told us open-air ceramah is not allowed," Ooi told Malaysiakini.
8.30pm: Najib arrives at the MBKS indoor stadium with Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussien.
The attendees rise immediately, waving little flags with the 1Malaysia logo, hooting and clapping,
Najib is flanked by BN candidates Dr Sim Kui Hian (Pending) and Sim Kiang Chiok (Padungan) on stage.
The premier is lending an ear to Dr Sim, who is doing most of the talking.
The BN Batu Kawah candidate Tan Joo Phoi and Kota Sentosa candidate Alfred Yap is also on stage.
The PM is also spotted using an iPhone 4 to make final adjustments to his speech.
The emcee addresses the crowd in Chinese first.
8.29pm: Anwar arrives at the Batu Kawah ceramah to loud cheers. The audience, mostly Chinese of all ages, hang on his every word.
8.35pm: In Sibu, Sarawak DAP chief and Bukit Assek candidate Wong Ho Leng takes the stage and speaks at a ceramah in the neighbouring constituency of Nangka.
Referring to Najib’s extension of his stay in Sarawak to six days, Wong says that Najib is trying to play Santa Claus.
"When Najib comes, it is like Santa Claus is coming to town.
"I thought that we celebrate Christmas in December but it looks like it has come in April.
"He will come with presents like how he did during the Sibu by-election. And then when you all did not vote for BN, he said that he has to slow down with the presents first.
"Does he think we are stupid?" he charged to the 60 people at a kopitiam.
The PKR candidate for Nangka is Norisham Mohamed Ali.
8.45pm: At the BN ceramah in Kuching the MBKS air conditioning seems to be failing as the masses turn to their little 1Malaysia flags to fan themselves.
Burgers and bottled water are also being distributed to the crowd.
8.48pm:In Batu Kawah, Anwar accuses Najib of playing politics of pornography for attacking him using the sex video issue.
"Every night before sleep Rosmah will ask him 'So what's our next move?'
"Someone warned me, now that the customs officer has died, they'll find my DNA there too," he said to laughter from the audience.
Anwar does not mince his words in the campaign against former PKR man Dominique Ng, who is contesting as an Independent in Padungan.
"Don't waste your vote for any Independent. A vote for them is a vote for BN and SUPP," he said.
Ng, PKR's only representative to be voted into the Sarawak assembly in 2006, decided to defend his seat after he was dropped by his party in a complicated seat swap with DAP.
In the end he decided to continue contesting as an independent against DAP and BN in Padungan.
8.55pm: Back at MBKS, SUPP Kota Sentosa candidate Alfred Yap tries to steer the agenda away from the opposition’s claim that a vote for BN is a vote for Taib.
"Remember to vote for BN because a vote for BN is a vote for Najib," he says, before passing the rostrum to the premier.
8.59 pm: At the Batu Kawah event, there is a wave of cheers as Anwar ( left, on stage ) passes through the crowd - that has swollen to 8,000 - to proceed to another venue.
Meanwhile the crowd also cheers on Lim Guan Eng as he makes it to the tiny stage.
"Can those at the bridge hear me?" Lim asks while waving to the several thousands more listening from the side of a bridge some 200 metres away.
Batu Kawah is believed to be the hardest seat for DAP to win in Kuching.
9.11pm: At the Batu Kawah Pakatan ceramah ( top photo ), Lim Guan Eng rubbishes Taib Mahmud's claim that his children are rich because they are smart.
"So are other children not smart? Did his daughter go to Oxford? I have an Oxford graduate here and he can tell me that Taib's daughter didn't graduate from Oxford," he said pointing to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua ( left, with spectacles ).
He asked those who believe that Taib should remain as chief minister to put up their hands, but no one in sight does.
Meanwhile more people are filing in, and the traffic jam leading to the venue has yet to ease.
9.15pm: Tony Pua says the DAP campaign team in Limbang has collected more than RM16,000 donation in one dinner event.
This despite only about 500 people turning up for the dinner.
Later Teo Nie Ching adds in a tweet that the 48 tables are sold out and that the collection has grown to RM26,000.
9.15pm: In Sibu, Nangka candidate Norisham Mohamed Ali has the crowd worked up in fits of laughter as he makes fun of Taib Mahmud.
Despite being a political novice, he has the slightly intoxicated predominantly Chinese crowd having beers in a kopitiam roaring with approval as he brands Taib " buaya putih" (white crocodile).
"That buaya putih robs Sarawak for his family and cronies," he charges.
Norisham has some choice words for one of the points in the BN manifesto, to make Sarawak the richest state in the country.
"They say they want to make Sarawak the richest state by 2030. It's bulls**t! Bulls**t!
"He wants to make it rich for who? He wants to make it rich for himself.
"I also don't want to call him ‘ rambut putih ’ (white haired, or pek moh , the opposition’s long running nickname for Taib) anymore. He should be called buaya putih ," he says.
9.20pm: Najib has just concluded his 25-minute speech where he calls a certain opposition leader one who has personal problems and is thus not fit to be a leader.
He also sys that the opposition leader is a person who frequently lies, citing a promise that the BN government would fall on Sept 16, 2008.
"Did that happen?" asked Najib, to which the crowd replies, "No!"
9.25pm: In Batu Kawah, Lim Guan Eng sings a song by popular Taiwanese singer Jay Chou ‘Listen to mother’ and says a good government should likewise listen to the people.
"A good son listens to his mother, a good husband listens to his wife, and a good government listens to the people."
While Lim is giving his speech to the 8,000 strong crowd, Tony Pua is standing on a four-wheel drive and autographing the party mascot Ubah brought by supporters.
Lim calls his audience to become 'crocodile hunters' to chase out corrupt leaders.
"Taib says he wants to make Sarawak the richest state. You know what this means? It means he wants to stay longer. You can't (achieve Taib’s promise) in one or two years," he said.
9.40pm: In Nangka, Sibu, the crowd grows slightly to about 100 people as PKR Johor chief Chua Jui Meng takes to the stage.
Continuing with the name-calling, he ups the ante this time calling Taib Mahmud a “great white shark”.
"His wealth exceeds that of (Malaysia's richest man and sugar plantation tycoon Robert Kuok.
"That is why he is called the great white shark," says Chua.
9.45pm: In Kuching, as the BN ceramah wraps, a riotous scene erupts at the entrance of the MBKS indoor stadium as hoardes of people try to grab goodie bags with a 1Malaysia logo.
In the mad scramble, elderly people and children are falling over one another and muscling their way to grab as many bags as they can.
Inside each goodie bag is a poster of Najib and a Tupperware brand water tumbler affixed with a 1Malaysia logo.
Those who decide not to participate in the chaos wait for the crowd to dissipate before lining up to collect small boxes of biscuits.
9.50pm: Speaking to around 300 people in Sibu town centre, BN Dudong candidate Tiong Thai King implies that DAP should go to Balingian to challenge Taib Mahmud rather than criticising him in Sibu and asking the voters to reject local BN candidates.
"They only focus on one person. If they are capable, they should go to his area to contest," he said, without naming anyone.
"Please don't use the person to attack a few persons in Sibu," he added.
It is clear that Tiong ( right ) is referring to DAP’s campaign of ‘Voting SUPP equal to voting Taib".
"If they want to overthrow the person, they should just go there and campaign," he said.
Besides Tiong, BN Pelawan candidate Goh Chung Siong and Bawang Assan candidate Wong Soon Koh also take turns to speak.
9.51pm: DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in a tweet says the atmostphere in Limbang is encouraging.
"Visit Limbang for the first time ... Great public support," he says.
10.03pm: Lim Guan Eng ends his speech in Batu Kawah with the crowd chanting “Let's Change” in Malay, Iban and Chinese.
Prior to that he sings the Wonder Girls' hit song ‘Nobody But You’, changing the lyrics to "No money No money for you!", backed up by the crowd.
Treated like a rock star, Lim is mobbed by the crowd who wants his signature as soon as he steps off the stage.
The crowd then shushes one another to listen to the softspoken Nik Aziz Nik Mat ( left ).
There are nods in the crowd when he speaks about graft, and how it is growing because people do not fear God.
"I am here to ask you to vote for Pakatan. Because with PAS, DAP and PKR, God-willing you will live safely, here and in the hereafter," he said in his brief speech.
10.30pm: At a DAP ceramah in Sibu town centre, the party's popular election video 'Taib vs Ubah' is shown on the projector screens to about 4,000 people.
In the short clip portraying DAP’s mascot Ubah battling Taib Mahmud, the story shows the underdog bird eventually defeating Taib, knocking him into outer space.
The crowd applauds as a screaming Taib spins out of Earth.
10.30pm: Meanwhile in Sibu, DAP’s ceramah tonight has continued the good response of last night’s, attracting at least 5,000 people despite the absence of heavyweight leaders at the event.
The only star speaker is DAP Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming ( left ), who is also Foochow, the dominant dialect group in Sibu.
The overwhelming response even causes a traffic slowdown along Jalan Pedada, a major road in Sibu.
Nga later puts the crowd size at around 10,000.
11.15pm: Still in Sibu, Nga has whipped the mood up and spirits are high.
He leads the crowd to sing a motivational song 'I believe', and many sing along with hands raised and flags waving.
Nga also launches a salvo at the sex tape scandal that is trying to implicate Anwar Ibrahim.
"He is a promising star when he is in Umno, but after he is fired from the party, (they say) he has (committed sodomy) with an old man, and … with a young man. And now he is having sex with a prostitute. Can you imagine?
"You think we are ‘ bo ta chek ’ (uneducated)?" he says.