By the time Mr.Anwar Ibrahim arrived at his ceramah in Kampung Baru, it was already 10:45 pm. As he walked in, the long wait was instantly forgotten by the impatient crowd, smiles lit up faces, and many rushed to thrust their handphones forward, to take his picture as he walked by. His charisma was startling.
His speech was rudely interrupted less than a minute after he started. The lights went out! Curiously, no other surrounding buildings had been affected by the 'blackout'. Immediately the mostly placid crowd turned into a buzzing hive of outraged, furious citizens. They knew who was behind this remarkably co-incidental blackout.
After a few minutes of confusion, Mr.Anwar, surrounded by young men of the AMK(Keadilan Youth Wing), walked down the stairs and proceeded to make his way out. Spontaneous clapping erupted and Keadilan's battlecry 'Reformasi' rent the quiet Kuala Lumpur evening.
He was not more than a quarter way out before some sort of ruckus appeared to have started outside the gated 'padang'(field) where the ceramah was being held. He was immediately surrounded by yet more AMK guards, looking nervous but determined, and calls to be alert rang out. Everone's darkest fear, it was apparent, was the ever-present threat of assasination. In the ring of fire with him we could make out, through the darkness, Dr.Idris and Mr.Surendran. As well as Mr.Sivarasah, who, having been barred from the state of Sarawak after having flown there just this morning, was in trouble yet again.
Perhaps someone realized the counter-productive effect of this 'blackout'. Because the lights miraculously came on again. And Mr.Anwar smiled and returned to the stage. He did not refer to the incident other than to say it was 'an evening to remember'. His speech was short but as always, witty, as, by turn, he mocked and excoriated the ruling party and it's politicians. It galvanised the urban crowd.
As we made our way out, we must have counted between forty to fifty policemen and perhaps 3 or 4 patrol cars outside the gate. And goodness knows how many members of the secret police inside the gates. They really should have been out there fighting crime, rather than sheepishly following about an opposition leader giving a speech to citizens, in the normal course of his duties.
The ruling party fears him greatly, it is clear. They would like him silent, and if switching off the electricity won't do it, they will surely try to jail him before the next general elections.
They hound him at every step.
While he takes it all, in unbroken stride.