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BN's concert, lucky draw no match for Pakatan rally

BN held one of its biggest outdoor events yesterday, with a open air concert at the 101 Commercial Centre on Jalan Tun Jugah, where several hawkers centres are located and cater to hundreds of diners on any given night.

Billed as "A night with the Kuching five tigers", a newspaper advertisement for the event promised lucky draw prizes, which turned out to be flat-screen TVs, and entertainment by prominent singers from Peninsular Malaysia.

NONE The "five tigers" are the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) candidates for Pending , Kota Sentosa , Padungan , Batu Lintang and Batu Kawah , who took turns on stage, in between several BN leaders from the peninsula.

Former PKR Youth chief Ezam Mohd Noor was a surprise first speaker at the event, and went on his usual PKR-bashing spree, thought in a much more watered-down manner because Chinese crowds are not his usual audience.

Ezam called on the people present to reject his former party and its leader Anwar Ibrahim on grounds that most of PKR's founders had already left the party.

NONE "My party registeration number is 007. James Bond," said Ezam, but his joke was lost among the crowd, "And I have left the party. The only one left (among the founders) is 001 - Dr Wan Azizah (Wan Ismail)".

When SUPP Youth chief Sih Hua Tong, the BN candidate for Batu Lintang, took the stage later, his main agenda was to lambast the DAP for sparking what Chinese dailies have referred to as the 'orang utan row'.

SUPP has taken strong offence to a DAP ceramah speaker's phonetic pun on SUPP's name in Chinese, by calling it the 'orang utan' party.

It was rather difficult to gauge if the crowd shared his sentiments, even when Sih openly asked if they were offended.

The reaction from the crowd was relatively lukewarm when compared with the Pakatan rallies, but it was quite clear that SUPP's candidate for Pending, cardiologist Dr Sim Kui Hian, does have a sizeable following.

A significant number of people were seen leaving the venue after the speech by Sim, who is considered one of the strongest candidates fielded by the BN and the only one seen as having a fighting chance of uprooting a DAP incumbent.

NONE About 2km away at Taman BDC, the atmosphere was completely different, with people packed like sardines for a DAP-organised ceramah in the carpark of a small business centre.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim was the star speaker of the night who whipped the crowd into a frenzy within minutes of his speech.

Anwar told the crowd, which according to one conservative estimate numbered about 3,000, that he had been pounding the campaign trail from cities and towns to the remote reaches of Kapit and found that the tide was turning against BN.

"I am confident that this time, Sarawak will make history!" thundered Anwar, to loud applause and hoots of agreement.

Peppering his speech with annecdotes from the rural areas, Anwar was clearly on a mission to erase any doubts among the urban crowd that the winds of change were sweeping throughout the state.

He then went on to explain how the Sarawak BN and the Pakatan-governed states were at polar opposites in terms of transparency, and how differently the two coalitions dealt with corruption.

Underscoring the fact that he was born and bred in Penang, Anwar said his chief minister - Lim Guan Eng - had initiated a policy in which serving lawmakers could not apply to buy state land, an issue that is contentious in Sarawak.

He said that when he told longhouse tuai rumah (headmen) this story, the response had been absolute disbelief and confusion.

NONE "When I tell longhouse people this, they don't believe... Guan Eng has never taken an inch of land," said Anwar, who went on to describe Guan Eng as the best chief minister Penang ever had - and the crowd appeared to agree.

Even after Anwar left, the bulk of the crowd remained for a speech by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, who capped off the night.

Tonight, DAP and PKR will be jointly hold their final election rally at Jalan Stutong, where Karpal Singh, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Nga Kor Ming will be speaking.

The five SUPP candidates will be holding their own finale at the Kenyalang Shopping Centre, backed up by speakers from the MCA central leadership.