All quiet on Penang political front


BY NOW, thousands of words have been written on how we changed history on May 9 and I don’t want to bore anyone with more anecdotes on the subject.

But while the country is still basking in the glory of a new political landscape, we newsmen are at a loss on how to perceive the new Malaysia, especially as Penangites.

I had a lot of fun covering the old Malaysia, especially Penang which was then an Opposition state at loggerheads with the Federal Government on every issue.

This meant that Penang had both right and left-wing politics flourishing in earnest.

The right and left of the political divide was first described during the French Revolution of 1789 when those who wanted order and continuity sat on the right side of the king and those who wanted reforms sat on the left.

Nationally, Barisan Nasional was on the right but DAP-led Penang was on the left, and so there were many battles.

As journalists, we made fodder of everything they threw at the state government from land reclamation and the building of an undersea tunnel to the environment.

There was never a dull moment as every issue was a subject of partisan politics.

During the run-up to the general election, we journalists had our hands full every day covering every volley lobbed at Penang by the Federal Government.

The general election was fun because it was the only time that you would see three types of politicians: one who knows he will win, one who thinks he will win and one who hopes for a miracle to win.

I know one politician who started work on winning an assembly seat two years before the election.

He spent quite a large amount of his own money opening a service centre on the mainland, employing staff and meeting people in the area.

I met him a year ago before the election and told him he was doing excellent work but the going would be tough and true enough, he lost.

Now the left wing which wants reforms and a new Malaysia has taken over from the right-winged conservatives, causing quite a stir in other states, but in Penang the status quo remains.

In the wake of the general election, the parties now forming the opposition have gone pretty quiet and are lying low, at least for the time being.

So suddenly there is not much to report about political clashes.

No more trading of barbs and fighting over issues.

Politics has become quite predictable in Penang and I, for one, find it pretty boring to cover the state these days.

It is definitely not a bad thing to be in unison with the Federal Government, which has a listening ear for Penang now, but for newsmen, its pretty dull.

Amid all this, the tiny state of Perlis provided me with some action. I spent a week there covering the drama between the politicians and the palace.

It provided an escape from dull Penang, but other than the drama, Perlis has nothing much to offer.

Within days, I began missing wantan mee, char kuey teow and nasi kandar.

I am back now, looking but not yet finding that spark on the political scene in Penang.

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