LABIS (Jan 22, 2011): The sleepy town of Tenang came to life this morning as members from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) gathered to show support for their candidates contesting in the by-election.
While the official announcement was only made at about 11.30am, both sides rallied their supporters since as early as 7.30am.
The PR, led by PAS gathered at Dataran Wayang Pacak, while the BN machinery were set up across the field from Labis District Council - separated by the nomination centre and a buffer zone guarded by police and Federal Reserve Unit personnels.
On the PR side, a make-shift stage was set up on a lorry and the crowd was briefed by PKR Rembau chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin, or better known as Chegu Bard.
"Every single person here should do their part and help to support our campaign. Don't just be a political tourist," he cautioned the 2,000-strong crowd who came from all around the country and gathered around the stage.
He also warned them not resort to personal attacks when they embark on the campaigning.
Other leaders who took to the stage included PAS Terengganu Commissioner Datuk Abu Bakar Chik and PKR Bukit Gantang secretary Lau Tek Hai.
Lau also got the crowd singing along to his "modified" version of a familiar Chinese New Year tune - the lyrics changed to taunt the BN parties and gather support for the PR candidate.
Despite scare-tactics used against them for its religious stand, PAS still managed to attract strong support from non-Muslims who went on to form the PAS Supporters Assembly Wing.
A local member from Labis, Richard Wong said: "We want to help spread the message that PAS is not all about Hudud and forming an Islamic state; two issues that are often repeated to scare the Chinese communities from supporting the party."
Proving that old age is not a hindrance, best friends 63-year-old Megat Zainuddin and 77-year-old Arshad Yahya camped at the nearby mosque and cycled along with the crowd to show their support.
Hailing all the way from Meru, Klang, the duo who are also members of Meru Cycling Club said they often brought their bikes and tent where a by-election is being held – so as not to be left behind by the marching crowds.
Over at the BN camp, besides the coalition party members, also making their presence felt with banners and flags were groups who came together as BN Supporters, among others, the Indian Progressive Front, Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party, Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress, Malaysian Indian United Party and Selangor Anti-Corruption Coalition.
While these parties do not appear to have a solid issue that they will champion throughout the campaigning period, the party workers who gathered around the nomination center remained in high spirits and pledged their full support for BN, despite the rising temperature.
The BN camp was also not short of interesting characters.
Among others, decked in his Umno uniform, Batu Pahat committee member 65-year-old Sulaiman Idris rode all the way to Segamat with the speakers on his Easy Rider motorbike blasting catchy 60s pop-yeh-yeh tunes.
The crowd finally thinned out and dispersed after the contesting candidates were officially announced.
Umno leaders led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin were seen leaving the venue at noon. -- theSun.