Monday, 6 May 2013

GE13: Commotion at Ayer Itam Road

What a day I've had! Yesterday morning saw me going to Taman Siakap in Seberang Jaya to cast my vote in the General Elections. As usual, the roads leading to the polling station, a primary school that my children had attended when we were still staying in this town, were jampacked with people and vehicles.

I only managed to park the car some distance away, squeezed between two other vehicles,and then walked pass the makeshift stalls that were set up by the supporters of the two main political parties, the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Parti Keadilan Malaysia (PKR). I didn't pay much attention to their last-minute attempts at canvassing for votes and proceeded directly towards the school.

At the gate, I was given directions to my voting lane but there, a mild shock awaited me. A queue of about 50 voters were already there waiting in line. Luckily, a cool breeze blew throughout my long wait till the front of the queue. Possibly waited about 50 minutes or so but the time passed by quickly enough. Friendly faces around who were all too willing to strike up a conversation with me.

Then it was my turn to enter the classroom. The polling clerks asked for my identification and then covered my left forefinger with their supposedly "indelible ink" which washed off later with soap and water. Then was issued with two folded slips of ballot paper and directed to the polling booth.

I took a look at the two pieces of paper. The only name that I could recognise was that of the parliamentary candidate for Permatang Pauh: Anwar Ibrahim. I have to admit that the other candidates were all aliens to me. In fact, when it came to marking my ballot slips, I had to make doubly sure that I was selecting the PKR symbol.

Voting over, I made my way to the island where, for the very first time, I was scheduled to volunteer my services as a polling and counting agent for the Democratic Action Party (DAP). My destination, the Kong Min school beside the roundabout at Ayer Itam, was one of four or five polling and counting centres for the Air Putih state constituency.

As I made a slow drive towards the roundabout, traffic was already heavy. I was wondering where to park when suddenly, I noticed an empty parking space on the opposite side of the road. Instinct made me mmediately swing my car round the roundabout and park there. As it turned out, it was a very good decision as the road from the roundabout towards the Ayer Itam village soon became the scene for dramatic vocal exchanges between groups of people supporting rival political parties.

At first, I had put all the noise down to rowdiness and people who were simply enjoying the carnival-like air of a general election. Air horns were blaring and shouts of "Ubah" were heard regularly. Then almost without warning, a group of young Chinese motorcyclists - obviously, these were the paid BN mercenaries - dressed in blue tees made their way down from Ayer Itam. As they rode past, they were jeered good humouredly by the DAP supporters. What would you expect? The moment ended but my fellow DAP volunteers who had gathered within the school compound knew that they would soon return.

True enough, around two o'clock or so, we again heard a commotion outside the school. Further up the road, a group in blue tees had gathered. The leader among them, a bulky Mamak gorilla with a permanent scowl on his mug led his Chinese machai riders right into the DAP supporters.

They were booed and jeered at the face-off. There were lots of tension when this happened. Though I had a vantage point from within the school compound, unfortunately I couldn't see much as my view was generally blocked by people.  

Suddenly, the blue mob turned around and the two groups of people began jostling one another. Amid pleas to stop from spectators on the road, plastic chairs and motorcycle helmets became projectiles. Sticks were suddenly being used to attack and whack people.

What made this incident into a farce was the attitude of the traffic policemen on duty. I know that they were supposed to deal with the traffic but to turn their back to the commotion which was just feet away and ignore it? Was traffic more important to them or stopping fights? A policeman is still a policeman, no matter what's his assigned duties, right? And it was several seconds later that a group of blue-clothes policemen donned their vests and rushed over to investigate the incident, by which time everything was over. Huh!
In my opinion, the provocation was all done by this mob of BN hooligans led by this Mamak gorilla. He was the instigator. Somewhere in the video below, you can see him gesticulating and waving his hand to urge his people onwards. If that is not provocation, I don't know what is. Anyway, here is the video of the incident. You can make your own conclusion.

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