EMOTIONS were played out on the street outside the Perak Menteri Besar’s official residence on the night of 5 Feb 2009 where close to 10,000 had gathered to protest Barisan Nasional’s takeover of the state legislative assembly.
Protestors flanked both sides of the one-way Jalan Sultan Idris Shah for about a hundred metres from the Ipoh Parade mall to the Menteri Besar’s residence. They blew on whistles and held hand-scrawled posters with the words “Please Horn” and “Jangan Cabar Rakyat”; enticing passing motorists to honk in support.
As the night wore on, a bunting with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s face was somehow obtained and a mad scramble ensued to stamp on it. “Pijak! Pijak! Pijak Najib!” protestors cried as uniformed police officers showed restraint in keeping the crowd in order.
The same bunting of Najib was later laid down for passing motorists to run over.
Inside the Menteri Besar’s residence, Pakatan Rakyat speakers were giving fiery ceramahs.
Their words were balm for an audience hurt by the Perak Sultan’s rejection of snap elections: speakers repeatedly affirmed the power of the electorate, despite its apparent powerlessness in disputing Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision. The Menteri Besar residence’s main hall overflowed with listeners who punctuated speeches with cries of “Allahu Akhbar!” and “Hancur BN!”
All the speakers exhorted listeners not to give up the fight. Parti Keadilan Rakyat information chief Tian Chua called the Pakatan Rakyat’s agenda “a holy struggle, a jihad”, and called on the gathered supporters to “sacrifice and contribute all our energy so that our struggle succeeds.”
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, in the last speech of the night, promised to “fight to his last drop of blood.” He told an increasingly uproarious crowd that he would not resign, as per the Sultan’s request; instead, he affirmed, Perak would be the tomb of Umno, who had engineered the “illegal take-over”.