[UPDATED with photos from the ground] A musing on the many firsts for Sibu that took place in the few weeks leading up to last Sunday’s by-election, that reflects a changed Malaysia.
Sibu Miracle – May 16,2010
Never before in Sibu have we seen such a strong line of a multi-ethnic opposition coalition working together hand in hand way into the wee hours of the night to bring about change.
Never before in Sibu have we seen so many Malays proudly wearing DAP caps and shirts on the streets.
Never before in Sibu have we seen a Malay woman donning the tudung, hoisting a huge DAP flag.
Never before in Sibu kopitiam have we seen Chinese men inviting Malay PKR men (who are strangers to them) to engage in an amicable and spirited conversation about political issues and problems.
Never before in Sibu have we witnessed such a wide range of topics previously thought of as “taboo” and “sensitive”, being analysed and discussed in front of a huge multi-racial audience eager for change, in such peace, non-hostility, and good faith.
Never before in Sibu have we witnessed such a huge display of support for the opposition – a 15,000 strong public attendance at an opposition grand-finale ceramah on 15th May 2010, where the public stayed for six consecutive hours, from 6.00p.m. to midnight. Not only were they there on their own accord, they did not leave when it drizzled, they were not paid to turn up, and they even donated on the spot for the cause.
Never before in Sibu have we witnessed large crowds gathering to listen to speeches on issues instead of watching fireworks and helicopters whizzing in the sky.
Never before in Sibu have we witnessed our Malaysian Prime Minister flying in to Sibu three times in a week to campaign for one single Parliamentary seat (the ruling coalition had alleged that the opposition would not be able to do anything about) – this shows us how important getting hold of even one seat has become.
Never before in Sibu have we seen night after night, throngs of Malaysians of all races attending ceramahs with total devotion to listening to every word spoken without the incentive of BBQs, jamuan makan malam, rumah terbuka, lucky draws, beauty contests, karaoke singing competitions, and all that rubbish.
Never before in Sibu has the Election Commission (headquartered at the Sibu Civic Centre) been cordoned off by so many police and FRU personnel, all surrounding roads blocked off, traffic jam due to the massive crowd gathering in the rain to await the final outcome of an election.
Never before in Sibu have so many of my friends come to realise the value of being a registered voter and cherish the ability to vote.
Never before in Sibu have I heard young people telling each other “I am going to register as a voter, fly home, and vote next time to do my part.”
Sibu by-election 16th May 2010 is a day of so many “Firsts” for Sibu and I wish it will also trigger many more “Firsts” for the rest of the Central Region of Sarawak.
It is indeed a miracle.