Smaller crowds at ceramah, bigger audience online

Jahabar Sadiq

Once a staple of election campaigns, ceramah are losing their impact with voters opting to watch speeches online. – The Malaysian Insight pic, November 15, 2022.

IT’S a tale of two campaigns in 2022 for those on the stump.

Political fatigue and the rains have muted and shrunk those attending any kind of rallies or ceramah to a pale shadow of the crowds seen in the 2018 elections.

Of course, the campaign style is different among the main pacts gunning to win a majority in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.

That contrast was obvious last night when Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob went on a quick round of handshakes in Sungai Buloh for Barisan Nasional’s Khairy Jamaluddin.

A semi-trailer festooned with BN logos and colours parked at a popular food court in Kota Damansara but Ismail eschewed that for a walkabout where he was mobbed by party workers and some diners.

After 30 minutes, he left for Kuala Selangor and left Khairy to address the audience of diners, curious residents and party workers.

In brief remarks, Khairy spoke of his love for the federal seat of 158,090 where some 40% are voting for the first time.

He appealed for their support, saying they have a future prime minister as their representative, to cheers from the crowd.

Then it drizzled and the crowd disappeared.

Take a 25-minute drive on a network of highways that criss-cross the valley, where former prime minister and current Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin was courting support for Mohamed Azmin Ali to a 1,000-strong crowd.

They were in marquees over a T-shaped stage on a field sodden and muddy from heavy rain.

The crowd were again a mixture of party workers and residents – in plastic rain ponchos and under umbrellas – listening to speeches from Perikatan Nasional leaders, from the coalition that took over the government in 2020, in what became known as the Sheraton Move.

Muhyiddin was the last speaker after Azmin and PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

This was a rally of seasoned campaigners, unlike the BN event in Kota Damansara.

Muhyiddin spoke long about his time as prime minister and the future under PN – promising jobs creation and to fight corruption.

He waved the PN manifesto while party workers cheered among the crowd.

Yet, in both rallies the crowd was small. What was more important was bright lights and the line of camera phones beaming the event live via social media to those at home and away from the constituency.

It’s an election fought on social media to tempt voters to the ballot box on Saturday. – November 15, 2022.

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