Attending your first ‘ceramah’? Here’s what to expect

By Chris Mohan

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Malaysia is preparing itself for a general election, and we as the rakyat, 21 years and older, should exercise our right to vote.

The old saying “every vote counts” is definitely true and if you are fairly new to the political scene and are unsure of who to vote for, then please attend a ceramah or two in your neighbourhood, which will give you a better insight to the scene. 

For those unsure of what a ceramah is — it’s basically a talk as boring as your lecturer’s at university —  it is where a candidate who is running for a seat will lay out his agenda and vision for the constituency he hopes to represent. 

Besides the speech, here are seven other things to expect from your first ceramah:

1) Strangers

'Hi, do you even live here? — Picture from Democratic Action Party Facebook

Although your neighbourhood might seem like a quiet township, these ceramahs usually bring out everybody... basically neighbours you have not met for the past five years. You're in for a treat!

2) Everybody's a “businessman” or “businesswoman”

Ever walked down your street and past a house which smells like the best rendang ever? Interested in tasting it? Patience; during ceramahs, your neighbourhood makciks will whip up a good rendang, nasi goreng, or burger for a modest price. The pakciks usually end up selling drinks. Hey! It’s a great business opportunity.

Expect overpriced nasi lemak and sugary drinks. — Reuters pic

3) VERY long talks

If you are probably off a long day at college, university or work then be sure to thank us for the heads up. Fear not, these politically motivated speeches usually fly by — but we promise it’s better than the ones your university lecturer has to offer. If you are lucky, it could end by 10.30pm, otherwise, be prepared for past midnight sessions.

4) The ‘mat rempits’

Like it or not, these boys are part of our culture and as always, they will be out on the streets accompanying the arrival of a politician into your neighbourhood. If you think they’re a nuisance, remember you were probably the same too when you were a kid, going around on your bicycles and performing stunts to attract attention.

These mat rempits will be out with political flags stuck at the back of their motorcycles. — Bernama pic

5) Performances

These politicians sure know how to keep the crowd entertained and usually halfway through a ceramah, a performance — be it a dance or a karaoke session — is a must. If you share the same neighbourhood as Altimet or Bunkface for instance — chances are you might get a glimpse of them at this time.

6) Grand entrances ... and at times, the not too grand

If you thought the BMWs or Mercedeses were already a great way to make a statement — you got it wrong! Expect a few of them to arrive at your parks or school halls in a helicopter or at times a bicycle so as to be seen as being one of the people.

7) Being inspired to be a politician

Yes. After lending your pair of ears to these ceramahs, you may fall in love with the whole idea of how a politician can bring a positive change to your neighbourhood. Trust us, it only lasts for about 72 hours, before you feel normal again.

Ready to be a poltician yet? — Bernama pic