I was supposed to go support a friend at a Nomination Day function somewhere on the island today but somehow, my plans changed almost at the last minute. With time a little free on my hands, I then decided to throw in my support for the Pakatan Rakyat parliamentary and state candidates in Bukit Mertajam.
So at nine o'clock in the morning, I found myself walking to the Jalan Song Ban Kheng-Jalan Betik road junction. The side of the main road was already filled with cars, supporters and yet more supporters! Found a vacant spot by the roadside and managed to squeeze my car into the space.
Possibly about 200 people - a mix of Chinese, Malays and Indians - were already there at the junction, mostly garbed in yellow T-shirts while I sported the Ubah T-shirt that I had bought days earlier from the DAP Penang headquarters about a week back. The flags of the DAP, PKR and PAS were flying everywhere, and the people were clearly enjoying themselves. Party mood.
A short distance away from us was the Police roadblock. Nobody bothered with them and they just stood staring impassively at us.
However, I found it disconcerting that barbed wire had also been stretched across the roadblock. Was it really necessary when everyone were in carnival mood?
The Pakatan Rakyat candidates were milling around with their supporters. Shortly after nine o'clock, they were allowed to pass through the Police roadblock. Only the candidates and their seconders were allowed through for the short walk to the nomination centre at the Public Works Department Office.
The four candidates (left to right): Chong Eng (DAP), Steven Sim (DAP), Ong Kok Fooi (DAP), Lee Khai Loon (PKR)
From my vantage point, I could see a similar roadblock set up about a hundred metres away to block off the opposing Barisan Nasional supporters. Very difficult to estimate how many of their supporters were there but it didn't really mattered.
About 10 minutes later, we noticed that from the other end of the road, the candidates from the Barisan Nasional had also arrived at the nomination centre.
Now the wait for the nomination period to close at 10 o'clock. Nobody was impatient. People were getting to know one another. Someone with a loudspeaker started informing the crowd to attend a ceramah that night in Machang Bubok. I walked around and bumped into a group of people I knew. Decided to take a few photographs with them. Here's one.
From left to right: cousin, acquaintance, old schoolmate, former work colleague, myself
Shortly after that, I decided to leave. The little time on my hands had ended and there were other things to do. So I took leave of this group of people, glad that I had at least now experienced the atmosphere during nomination day.