I spoke at a PAS event yesterday. It was called Impian Malaysia (The Malaysian Dream) and held at the Library in section 13, Shah Alam.
There was a sense of frugalness about the entire event. After registering myself as a speaker, I was given a plain green goodie bag (no logo or wordings) which contained some PAS literature, a small bottle of mineral water and a packet of coffee flavored sweets. To identify myself as a speaker, I had a corsage of ribbons shaped like a flower pinned to my shirt. By a male volunteer, of course.
We were then led to a nice breakfast area facing a beautiful lake. I was politely told that there were no VIP’s in PAS and that I had to serve myself breakfast. There were 4 chafing trays and they were all filled with the exact same food – fried beehoon noodles with a little shredded cabbage and red chillies. Drinks consisted of hot teh-o and kopi-o in self serve pots.
Another eye opener was that the crowd trickling in to attend the event consisted of a large number of Indians and some Chinese besides the Malays. I did not see any stereotyped hard core turbaned, bearded and robe clad PAS members.
When we were ushered into the auditorium, we had to take our shoes off. Thank heavens I wore a good pair of socks without any holes! I was led to the holding room where I met up with the person who had invited me – YB Datuk Dr Haji Mujahid Yusof Rawa, MP for Parit Buntar.
He in turn introduced me to YB Dr Haji Abdul Rani Osman, ADUN for Meru, Klang, and YB Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, MP for Kota Raja, Klang. I also met another speaker, Sherab Wong from the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia.
Later in the auditorium proper I approached the tech guys to ask if they could download my powerpoint presentation to their laptop and check if it would play smoothly. They readily agreed but looked flustered when I asked for the clicker and laser pointer. I took my seat rather unsure of how to conduct my presentation.
The guy later got back to me and whispered that there was no clicker available, but I could call out to him verbally to change slides. Just then the Emcee started the event by asking us to stand for a video rendition of the Negaraku and the Selangor state anthem, followed by a video “PAS Untuk Semua”.
Truth be told I found the PAS video quite comical as they tried hard sell to convince Malaysians that PAS was for us all via a song in Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. Here it is for you to decide for yourself.
I was the third speaker after Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary Kasthuri Patto, daughter of the famous P Patto, and Sherab Wong. Despite having to nervously say “next slide, please” 12 times, I ended up enjoying my talk as the audience freely interacted with me in a casual dialogue manner and clapped at relevant points.
Unfortunately I had another function to attend after speaking and the organizers were kind enough to invite me to again speak at their other events and present me with a memento – a framed programme of the event.
Ok with that the Spanker feels that he has been naughty enough with this post. No, I was not giving a ceramah on politics, although there was more than enough of that flying around at the event.
I was speaking on crime awareness and prevention methods as the founder of Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and snatcH. I was invited because I had attended YB Mujahid’s book launch the day before and he had urged me to speak at his event.
Attending has been good as I had some preconceived notions about PAS that are now being viewed with an open mind. I also resolve to attend more events from both sides of the political divide to decide for myself if PAS’s raw “what you see is what you get” rather unsophisticated style of holding events is not just another slick psychological attempt to woo more non Malays into the fold.
Venture forth, we shall - to see and decide and for ourselves. Keep watching this space.