Staying calm amid tight security


Crowds taking part in a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Guan Eng outside the MACC building in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

POLICE were guarding the courthouse in George Town, Penang, like a fortress when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon were brought in.

Only those with court business, politicians and the media were granted entry.

Yet somehow, two sweet young things managed to slip throughyesterday to experience the moment.

The petite girls in casual wear moused quietly along the crowded corridors full of sombre people and tired journalists.

Armed with smart phones and a tablet, they busied themselves taking pictures and spotting political personalities.

“We’re college girls. My friend here has just graduated,” one of them said cheerily when asked.

“We want to see the chief minister being charged. We are here to support him,” said the other one.

The activity around courthouse plus the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Penang headquarters rippled through the island in the form of traffic jams.

For security reasons, police had barricaded Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, where MACC is, at the Jalan Larut and Farquhar Street junctions since around 1am yesterday.

There being no warning, motorists on their usual way to work, especially those from the north of the island heading south or into the city, found themselves slamming into gridlock traffic caused by the roadblocks.

The jam stretched along Gurney Drive, Pangkor Road and the Pulau Tikus portion of Burmah Road.

“I had to do an illegal U-turn. Lucky I could do it or I would be so late,” said an office worker spotted enjoying his breakfast at the corner of Penang Street and Bishop Street at 8am.

He was reading a copy of The Star. Pointing at the front-page news of Lim’s corruption charges, he said, “The jam is caused by this.”

When Lim and Phang were detained overnight in MACC, about 400 people gathered outside between 7.30pm and 12.30am.

They sang songs popularly sung at DAP functions such as the Hokkien ballad Ai Pia Kah Eh Eah (must strive only can win), and chanted slogans like “Bebas Guan Eng!” (Free Guan Eng!).

They waved light sticks before DAP supporters passed candles around to create the global image of a vigil.

Quickly reacting, two ice-cream peddlers on motorcycles made a tidy profit from the throng.

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