When a "ceramah" event manages to draw large crowds its a good indication for the popularity of the party or the speaker. However in the case of a by election, more often than not, crowds in "ceramah" can be quite misleading as prominent speakers tend to draw crowds not from actual voters but instead from supporters coming both from the machinery and nearby constituents.
A PAS ceramah in Bandar baru Gua Musang
As mentioned before Ceramah in Gua Musang don't really attract crowds, big speakers like Nik Aziz and even Anwar Ibrahim failed to draw much crowds with folks around here. Of course one could say that perhaps this is a sign of weakness by PAS but the reality is even BN sponsored ceramah's don't get much attention either. Which is why, early on BN by-election director Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who has been then long time MP in Gua Musang insisted on small scale dispersed campaign and house to house visit instead of big rallies with speakers and big screens.
Note that in this ceramah, most of the listeners are the machinery itself.
"When in Rome do as the Romans do" taken from one of my favourite Dean Martin's song 'An Evening in Roma' indeed it is a good advice to consider when it comes to this election. When in gua musang, do as the musang would do! So in the spirit of an old song sang by a dead Italian Crooner, BN Machinery did exactly just that.
Sorry for the blurry picture with a bad angle, but what you saw here is actually a famous Kelantanese tradition of "Dikir Barat". At one time PAS banned dikir barat in Kelantan due to the racy laguage used in the songs but few years back they reversed it seeing how popular it was (banning created a backlash). So instead of having the usual 'ceramah' Gua Musang's Pemuda UMNO division organised a 'Dikir Barat' in which political messages are channeled through the Tukang Karut. It's like a Dikir Ceramah, you channel your message through music and songs, kind of like Bob Dylan only with Cak lempong instead of a guitar and harmonica.
And so they came....
In between the shows the local Pemuda Division organised a lucky draw giving away Red Warrior's (Kelantan Football Club) merchandise. Each of the participant that came were asked by the MC whether he or she is a Galas voter and which polling station are they supposed to cast their vote to. Surprisingly all who came are actual voters since they even know which polling station they belong to (something that only a local would know).
Indeed it is a lesson that all political parties should learn from, the fact that what we may perceive as important, our perception can be very different from those of the rakyat. I noted that some speakers tend to talk about the 100 story tower or APCO issue but truth be told, folks here can't really relate much to it. It's not that there's a large intellectual gap it's just that folks here have other issues that is more closely related to them. Things like the housing problem, land acquisition and farming policies implemented by the state government.
So remember folks, always be humble, learn the local customs and as the saying goes "When in Rome do as the Romans do"