As Ning and I were lining up to board our flight to Penang on Wednesday afternoon, I spotted a familiar face standing in front of us in the queue. So I whispered to Ning.
Me: Look in front of us. It's Guan Eng.
Me: YAB Mr. Lim Guan Eng, the Chief Minister of Penang.
Ning: No lah.
Me: Yes lah! I know how he looks lah. It's the CM lah.
Ning: Takkan CM jalan sorang sorang. If he's the CM, where's the bodyguards and the officers and the rombongan and kaum kerabat?
Me: Tak percaya? Watch and learn.
So I walked up to Yang Amat Berhormat, introduced myself and asked to take a picture. He smiled and obliged.
YAB CM: Hey, I know you! You're Ning Baizura!
Ning: YAB Lim, good afternoon.
YAB CM: Come, come, we take a picture. Vernon, here's my card. Email me the pictures OK.
Me: Definitely, sir.
Ambik kau. CM pun peminat katanya!
Ning and I really felt honoured. But we felt more surprised that the Chief Minister of a state was travelling all by himself like any normal rakyat jelata. But the biggest surprise in store for us was yet to come.
As usual, we sat in First Class. I expected the CM to be seated somewhere in front of us but then I realised he wasn't in First Class. Where did he disappear to???
I popped my head round the curtain that veils First Class and Economy Class and guess who I saw sitting in the front row seat of Economy quietly reading the newspapers?
YAB Mr. Lim, you have my deepest respect. You have made history by being the first Chief Minister in this country to sit in Economy Class whilst in office as Chief Minister. You really mean what you say when you talk about cost-cutting. Sir, you have shown me leadership by example.
Of course I asked permission to take his picture sitting in Economy and he laughed. And I said I'd blogged about it and he laughed some more, and gave permission. Ketua Menteri yang berjiwa rakyat.