This was the huge crowd of about 400 people at last night's appreciation dinner at the Penang Chinese Town Hall which the Democratic Action Party had held for their members and people who had volunteered their services to the political party at the General Elections 10 days ago. It wasn't as formal as the one two nights ago for the Air Putih volunteers but definitely, it was more animated.
Mind you, this was an appreciation in kind in lieu of services volunteered. Nobody gave out any angpow. Nobody gave out any redeemable lucky draw ticket. No money, ever, changed hands from party to people or from people to people. No cash payment at all. Everything was above board. Just like to make it clear, as I saw it.
Of course, Lim Guan Eng spoke at the function. It's totally obligatory. Who else would you expect to speak at such a function if not for the party's secretary-general who so happens to be the Chief Minister of Penang as well?
He spoke of three significant classes of people who contributed to the success of the Pakatan Rakyat during the general elections:
- In the first instance, he acknowledged the role of the first-time voters. Many had come back to Penang from working in the other states of the country while some had even chosen to return from overseas just to exercise their constitutional right. With touch-in-cheek, he termed them as virgin voters.
- Secondly, he was much gratified to observe that the youth in our country have finally come out to fight for their own future. They have a voice and they have a mind of their own, and they have chosen to make themselves heard,
- And finally, he paid an immeasurable tribute to the women of all races, both young and old, who had joined the queue to make their votes count.
Later, LGE weaved around slowly from table to table to greet all the diners. Needless to say, everybody wanted a group photograph to be taken with him and Chow Kon Yeow, and that delayed his momentous stop at our table. But eventually, they did finish making their rounds.
But was there any respite for them and some of the other Members of Parliament who were around too: people like Jeff Ooi and Lim Wei Aik? You'd be rather silly if you think there was. Immediate after his walkabout and group photograph, he was waylaid by people all clamouring for his autograph. Rock(et) star treatment for this man, indeed. Such adulation, I haven't seen in a politician before.
By the way, during Chow Kon Yeow's pre-dinner speech, he was mentioning that the sales of merchandise - including T-shirts, vests, caps, badges, banners and stickers, Ubah toys and books - at the DAP Penang headquarters in Rangoon Road during the crucial weeks leading up to the general elections went far beyond their expectations.
The above picture does not do enough justice to my comments above as I took it about 10 days before the general elections but the crowd swelled up significantly as the date drew closer. Anyway from the sale of the merchandise, I heard from inside sources that more than RM1 million was collected at the DAP Penang headquarters alone, what more from the other DAP branches across the state? This amount excluded the moneys donated by the people of Penang at the political ceramahs during the campaign period. I did heard a figure mentioned as well but sorry lah, you'll have to excuse me. I can't remember everything I heard at my table.