ELECTION ceramahs are always interesting to attend not just to listen to the speakers, but to see who else shows up. Chinese Malaysians attending a PAS event always raise eyebrows, because they are traditionally seen as Barisan Nasional supporters. Their presence is even more interesting in the Kuala Terengganu by-election where they are said to be the swing voters.
Besides the various ceramah umum organised on a grand scale, there are nightly ceramah kecil which are simple events, featuring a tent or some portable fluorescent lights set up in a parking lot, or in the porch of someone’s house, along with microphone and loudspeakers. People stand, sit on mats or squat on the ground. Many prefer to hang around the fringe, by the roadside.
Voters not willing to give up their beauty sleep for these late-night ceramahs are reminded of campaign messages through billboards and leaflets. And there are also the walkabouts by candidates — or the top guns of their respective parties on their behalf — to meet and greet voters.
Voters’ responses at these events are not a strong indication of which way they’ll vote. Most times they’re polite, with a few awe-struck at seeing politicians in the flesh. If approached, they’ll likely tell you “I’m just here to listen”, or “wait and see lah” as to who they’ll vote for come polling day on 17 Jan. In this case, a smile hardly says anything.