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Fewer people at ceramah, more people online

This is the story of two campaigns in 2022 for those who are on the stump.

Political fatigue and the rains have deafened and reduced those attending any type of rally or ceramah to a pale shadow of the crowds seen in the 2018 election.

Of course, the style of campaigning is different among the major pacts trying to win a majority in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.

This contrast was evident last night when Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob quickly shook hands with Sungai Buloh for Barisan Nasional’s Khairy Jamaluddin.

A tractor-trailer adorned with BN logos and colors parked at a popular food court in Kota Damansara, but Ismail avoided this for a walkabout where he was mobbed by party workers and diners.

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

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 had a future prime minister as their representative, to cheers from the crowd.

Then it drizzled and the crowd disappeared.

Take the 25-minute drive on a network of highways that criss-cross the valley, where former prime minister and current Bersatu chairman Muhyiddin Yassin courted the support of Mohamed Azmin Ali from a crowd of 1,000.

They were under marquees on a T-shaped stage on a sodden and muddy pitch due to heavy rain.

The crowd was again a mix of party workers and residents – in plastic rain ponchos and under umbrellas – listening to speeches by leaders of Perikatan Nasional, the coalition that took power in 2020, in what became known as Sheraton Move.

Muhyiddin was the last speaker after Azmin and PAS Vice President Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

It was a gathering of seasoned activists, unlike the BN event in Kota Damansara.

Muhyiddin spoke at length about his tenure as prime minister and the future under the PN – promising job creation and the fight against corruption.

He held up the PN manifesto as party workers cheered him among the crowd.

Yet at both rallies the crowds were small. What was more important were the bright lights and the line of camera phones broadcasting the event live via social media to those at home and outside the constituency.

It is an election that took place on social networks to encourage voters to go to the polls on Saturday. – November 15, 2022.