A flashback to the year when a former prime minister and his former deputy last met and how it was watching the “Reformasi” protests up close.
By Mr Socko
The “unlikely reunion” photo of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim instantly reminded me of that explosive year ,1998.
I was in the thick of things, seeing the action from inside the court house, where I was posted.
The daily police barricade surrounding Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad, the water cannon and tear gas, the protestors; I actually made my own private notes then and might publish them one day.
But what’s interesting too was how information (and misinformation) was disseminated. Obviously, there was no social media then, and the internet was at its infancy in Malaysia at the time.
It was also a time when not everyone had a personal computer (PC) at our desk. Those were shared resources.
So, those who had any internet access would actually print out the “juicy” articles and pass them over to others in SEALED brown envelopes . . . complete with looks of panic. Especially for those of us then working in the government.
Discussions on the content were done in a hush-hush manner, not really knowing who was on which side.
When things got hotter, news vendors would only sell publications, such as Harakah, to people they knew – after looking around a few times to make sure no one else saw what was happening.
The vendors used to bundle the Opposition publications together with the rest of the mainstream papers. Even The Sun (which had a more “balanced” editorial view point) got the same treatment.
Of course, before Anwar was arrested, his ceramahs packed in the crowds every single night. And for those who couldn’t make it, cassette tapes were the answer. And as the photos here show, I still have copies of the tapes.
These cassette tapes sold like hot cakes and we eagerly waited for the latest “release” to come out with explosive titles on the cover.
And sometimes people would gather around and play a tape in their house, or office, on their Panasonic double-deck cassette player and listen intently to these ceramahs.
The tapes would also be passed around, but very, very discreetly. For some, these were “barangan larangan”.
1998. What a year it was . . .
Mr Socko is an FMT reader.
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