I spent the final days leading to the elections traversing the nation. There was a real energy swamping the country, as I drove Judy down her familiar terrains to the north, traversing Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang, which ironically became states lost by BN.
Let me comment on them days.
The night before (May 4) before I departed, I got to the Batu Parliamentary Operations Room, just past Sentul and into the start of the long road which ends at Batu Caves. The centre was the unit above a shoplot, and the closest I can come to directing people to it is, if you are driving from Jln Ipoh into the Sentul zone, and keeping on the road for another 3 kms until you pass the Saint Xavier Church, and the centre would be on the right.
It is pretty dodgy at night, or maybe just on the night. Sylvio has been working with the Batu people for a few days before I got there, as she was desperately trying to get polling agents for election day.
Incidentally, they were marking a whole bunch of ‘Makkal Sakhti’ CDs (more like thousands), for the tamil speakers in the area. Perhaps some of the 9000 majority and more than 20000 swing votes were a result of these CDs.
At about midnight, Sylvio and me left for our cars, and I started my trip into my own ‘In Country’.
Driving late night through Batu, I decided to plough on through Selayang and then to Rawang. By the time I was in Rawang, it was inevitable I had to stay on the state roads and not the North-South Highway.
There were numerous base camps all along the backroads leading to Tanjung Malim. These base camps for Pakatan Rakyat were mainly casual sheds or temporary shelters sorted out. The number of flags and other paraphernalia surprised me, as they continued to surprise throughout my trip.
By half past one I was knackered so I cozied myself down to the first stop available, which was a two row of shoplots in Hulu Bernam bordering one of the colleges of UPSI. (pic below)
There was the game on, the AC Milan; Arsenal second leg of the Champions League second round. The hotel had a restaurant below, and despite it being an exciting match, which many Arsenal recounted to me without shame, I skipped the match just after kick-off.
Up and about, I got my sorted out with early lunch and a back-road drive to Ipoh. However I lost my patience with lorry drivers all along the trail in an hour and headed to the North-South Highway for the first time.
I passed through Alor Gajah, unfortunately I pictures over there did not materialise.
Slipping through the back-roads again, we ( as in my car Judy and me) ended up in the outskirts of Ipoh. And the first place which suggested rest, I parked.
There was little election talk as I got into banter with the locals on what they thought of the election. Apparently there was a policy of non-disclosure to outsiders, or maybe it just was me.
Next stop Kedah.
There was no amount of talking when I reached Kuala Kedah, as I was again too knackered to talk or think, and a bed was found with little joy or apprehension.
And in what seemed short sleep, I woke up to the 6th, and my trip was now ending sooner than it started. The country is much larger not in size, but in imagination, if you take the time to stop and consider it as places your fellow Malaysians live, rather than places you pass.
Which must be the most salient lesson any national leader should have, if they were to consider lead the whole nation.
Next. Penang and Lim Guan Eng on the padang.