The Ringmaster And His Circus

Raja Petra - 
The Ringmaster And His Circus

It was reported that 10,000 people turned out to greet Mahathir during his recent trip to the heartland of Anwar Ibrahim. Thatís not very impressive considering tens of thousands turn up to greet the leaders of PAS, keADILan, DAP and PRM. Anyway, I did some checking and I was even less impressed when I found out how they assembled that "crowd".

School children who would "volunteer" to attend the "meet Mahathir rally" were paid RM10.00 each plus given free packed lunches. My cousin, who lives in Penang, confirmed that his school-going son was one of those who received this offer. He came home from school that day to ask his fatherís permission to go and, of course, my cousin had no objections as long as they paid him cash in advance. My cousin advised his son, when it comes to money, he should trust no one nowadays, especially UMNO.

That same cousin of mine is a manager in one of the factories in Penang. His factory and many others in that same industrial zone received instructions from the Penang Development Corporation to allow their workers time off to attend the rally. Those workers who volunteered to go were to be given paid leave. As the factories there needed to be on the good side of the state government they were obliged to cooperate and did as requested. The workers were quite happy to get a paid holiday for just a few hours "work" Ė pretending to enjoy Mahathirís speech.

Government servants, of course, had no choice in the matter. Attendance was compulsory and attendance was taken. Those absent would be called up the next day to explain their absence so, like it or not, they had to bear out the agony of hearing a repeat of the rhetoric of the UMNO General Assembly just a few days before that. I suppose thatís the price one pays for working for a government that thinks the party IS the government. If this is not a blatant abuse of the government machinery for personal benefit I donít know what is. But, I suppose, when these people use the nationís money as their own petty cash, getting the government employees to serve their personal interest is small potatoes in comparison.

But even with all this, they still could get an impressive enough crowd. So they "imported" the balance from out of town. You could see the telltale chartered buses that were hired to bus in the crowds from all over the country. In Malaysia everything is for rent Ė even crowds to attend the Prime Ministerís visits. They were not very clever though in leaving the buses out in the open for all to see. Maybe, next time, they should hide those buses in some bushes somewhere and give the impression that these people are all locals out to meet their great leader.

I wonder how many would have actually turned out to meet Mahathir had they not resorted to the above. I suspect they would have had great difficulty getting even 100 people. That shows how "popular" our great leader has become. I think it is time the rakyat, especially the UMNO members, wake up to this fact. Or have they already done so and thatís why they had to conduct this circus in Penang for the ringmaster of UMNO? But the people I sympathise with most are the circus clowns who had to smile through the agony of listening to Mahathir rant and rave like Hitler in the last days of the Third Reich.

Thanks & kindest regards
Raja Petra Kamarudin
REFORMASI - The Right To Question
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