BN candidate for P212 Sibu by-election Robert Lau organised this dialogue with PM and opened it to the younger generations of Sibu. The idea was good and it provided a rare opportunity for us to channel our views and pour out our grouses personally to our top leader. I liked the arrangement.
The dialogue session, held at RH Hotel, started off at 7:30am with a breakfast. It was all in a take-away lunch box with tea & coffee. The breakast was set in an informal way, making it easy for mingling around.
The turnout was more than anticipated. I learned that the seating arrangement was for 500. But the actual crowd eventually reached about 600. It was pretty encouraging.
The whole set-up was eye-opening for me. It was a simple theatre setting laid out in cluster style with the stage in the centre. One notable advantage of the setting is for the speaker/moderator to grasp a better control of the audience. It also enhances a feeling of closeness among the speaker/moderator and the participants.
Robert Lau moderated the session. As a whole, he discharged his job well in terms of timing and keeping within the limits. Right from the start, RL made it clear that the dialogue was closed-door, meaning the press was not permitted. This allowed a free flow of exchanges.
Our PM Dato' Seri Najib was tactful and diplomatic in taking a flood of views within a time frame of about two hours. He touched on about half of the issues raised, classified some as "within the purview of the state" and put the rest on "study list".
Generally speaking, PM had a good interaction with the audience. Some of his national policies were expounded with some humour chipped in to make the atmosphere light.
Before the session kicked off, some of the Federal ministers grabbed the time to interact with the participants. Home Affairs Minister Dato' Seri Hishammuddin and International Trade Deputy Minister Dato' Mukhriz were like political stars! Seeing participants queuing up to take photo with them, I joined in to have one with Mukhriz.
Our ministers did a good PR job this morning!