Bersih 3.0, perhaps the mother of all rallies before the coming snap election has ended with jaw-dropping reactions from both parties – the organiser and the government. This beast attracted such a huge crowd that even the police, infamous for playing down rallies participant’s number, estimated the number at 25,000. Some government-linked mouth piece toned down the figure to 8,000. Electoral reforms pressure group Bersih co-chair Ambiga said its rally was a great success, claiming that 300,000 Malaysians had joined. Knowing the police would normally reduce rally’s number by 10-fold, it’s safe to put the figure at 250,000.
Nobody knows the exact numbers except, perhaps the LRT train station itself as the company was laughing all the way to the bank as majority of participants relied on its transportation. Regardless whether the police was too pessimistic or Bersih was too optimistic with their figures, this Bersih 3.0 easily breached 100,000 brave souls. And I know it because FinanceTwitter together with the team was there. Since Bersih 3.0 could be the last rally before PM Najib Razak bid “auld lang syne”, we’ve decided to cancel all oversea trips just for the excitement.
We decided to make our first stop at KLCC LRT station since early tweets and reports put huge crowd at this marching point. Furthermore since KLCC is the main tourist spot, we bet the police or FRU would not charge into KLCC the way they did to Tung Shin hospital during previous Bersih 2.0 so this was perhaps the safest place of all. To cut long story short, we arrived quite late at KLCC just minutes before 2:00pm. We knew we’re late but nevertheless we sneaked out to find friendly yellow crowd but the only thing we saw was a small group of green activists. We later found out that the KLCC demonstrators have all left earlier.
We decided we got to beat the time so we took another train trip to Pasar Seni instead. By then the train was free from sardine-packed crowd reported earlier (*grin*). When we reached and alighted from Pasar Seni LRT station, we were quite disappointed because the yellow crowd was extremely small. Then we heard thunderous roar of familiar chanting – “Hidup, Hidup, Hidup Rakyat” – we were relieved. We rushed to find the source of these brave souls as we were concerned about being arrested by special branch as we were all wearing yellow. We were attracted to a huge crowd at Pasar Seni Bridge and soon realized the attraction – national literary icon A. Samad Said was on sit-in protest. The icon received many “salams (greetings)”, not to mention camera flashes. People hurried to the other side of the bridge as the roar of continuous chanting was getting louder. From the top of the bridge we saw a sea of yellow, for as far as our eyes can see. It was a marvellous and awesome sight. You won’t understand the significance of peoples’ power in Arab Spring behind that computers of yours. You simply got to be on site to experience it to get adrenaline pumping all over your body. The sight of Malaysians regardless of race, social status, age, sex, joining hand to hand together for a common cause was simply unbelievable.
We were on the bridge snapping photos and video recording for several minutes till we got boring but the sea of yellow walking from Jalan Tun Sambanthan towards Menara Maybank seemed to be endless. As much as Najib administration may want to bury their heads in sand in denial mode, the crowd that we witnessed alone was easily above 20,000. Actually, it’s quite simple to guess the figure. If you can still remember the number of students and the crowd size during your school assembly years ago, you can just roughly guess the figure of the rally participants. It was really really massive.
The burning sun and temperature above 34°C was a huge challenge but strangely nobody seems to care about dehydration or our display of idiocy shouting, screaming and crying for fair elections. We soon realized the reason why we were willing to sacrifice our weekend which could otherwise be spent at air-conditioned shopping heavens – because the present government can do no more for the people other than cheat, plunder, bully, corrupts and bankrupt the country. The people simply don’t believe government anymore even though it was true that Rosmah Mansor actually saved money daily since she was born to buy the US$24 million diamond ring.
There was a temporary stop near Menara Maybank for a speech. I met a Malay fellow from Shah Alam who told me he can see more Chinese participants this round, and he was extremely impressed. I also met an Indian Uncle from Seremban who came a day early to beat the unexpected, telling me he couldn’t believe the influence of internet in getting the huge number of people together. The Chinese told me they’ve had enough of Najib administration and would not believe a single word more. Somehow, everyone has awakened after 50-year of brain-washing, cheating and whatnot.
We then proceeded and in our attempt to reach Dataran Merdeka, our hope short lived when the convoy stopped about 100-metres from Menara Maybank. It seemed the police and FRU had wasted public money again on multiple volleys of tear gas targeted at the frontlines of our convoy. Later we saw Mat Sabu being escorted by PAS Unit Amal – apparently he was hit by tear gas. Perhaps it was due to the overwhelming crowds which surprise both Bersih organiser as well as the government but someone commented that the lack of communication and co-ordination was obvious during this Bersih 3.0 rally.
People were poorly informed of the latest status or situation and hence participants were not sure whether to disperse or stay on, made worse by Maxis 3G’s communication failure in accessing Facebook or Twitter. After some waiting, boos and jeers, FRU began moving in with tear gas. Heck, we didn’t touch a single (pubic) hair of theirs and yet they chose to attack us? We started to run like hell. Although we were quite far away, the gas carried by the wind was enough to send hundreds of spoons of wasabi-like not only into your nose but also eyes, throat and chest giving you a sensation of burning, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, chest pain and whatnot.
As most of the demonstrators comprised young and energetic young chaps, we could run fast and regroup. But it was an easy win for the police and the well armed FRU, who are rich with experience from the past rallies. Some Bangladesh workers opened their shop just to offer us a bucket of water to ease our pain. It seems these foreign workers are more humane than our local enforcers whom we paid their salaries. They covered every road and surprisingly they continued to tear gas us even though we were obviously on our way to the Pasar Seni LRT station to call it a day. Now we know why the shops prefer to close during rally. They’re not afraid of demonstrators but rather the police and trigger-happy FRU’s shooting tear gas and chemical-laced water indiscriminately.
Tear gassed twice, we all agreed it was the best wasabi we ever had and probably won’t take any more sushi for the next couple of months. As we were walking towards Pasar Seni LRT station, we can see more yellows coming from every street corner cursing, laughing and sharing their experiences. Some smart contrarian hawkers were doing brisk business next to the LRT station. By then the effect of tear gas was gone and people can be seen sharing contacts for the next rally (*grin*). However to our dismay the main gate of the train station was (deliberately) closed, sending anger to the people again as obviously it was a dirty tactic by the police to trap them.
Fortunately there was a side door which was still open and people started to squeeze into the station. A policeman who could be sympathetic with us later advised everybody to board the train fast as they received instruction to close down the station. He even commented that the police and FRU may attack even if the people are at the train station. Later we discovered the police’s brutality had spread to even an unexpected foreigner in the country. Apparently Australian independent Senator Nick Xenophon who is in Kuala Lumpur on an international fact-finding mission on election processes in Malaysia was tear gassed himself during the rally.
Inside the train, announcements were made that Pasar Seni and Masjid Jamek station will be closed. We’re not sure if we’re lucky to board the perhaps last train out of the police’s hell. We arrived at KLCC, changed our shirts, bought Haagen Dazs ice-cream, and find a nice spot at Starbucks for a cup of Ice Latte. The sight of yellow was so obvious at Coffee Bean and Starbucks. Everyone seemed to be still energetic even after hours under 35°C burning sun, volleys of tear gas and the great exercise which we hadn’t done in years. Despite the tortures, we will definitely return for the next rally. Little did we realize the magnitude of police brutality to be unveiled to our comrades on the other side of the streets.
Police claimed that they fired water cannons and tear gas after demonstrators breached police barricades to enter the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). The organizer, Bersih, however said it did not support the action of demonstrators who breached the barricades and called on the police to investigate. So could those demonstrators part of troublemakers sent to taint the otherwise peaceful rally? It’s very difficult to differentiate genuine Bersih activists from troublemakers, especially when you’ve 250,000 highly charged people demanding for fair elections.
The fact that the government chose to play childish and dirty game of sending useful resources of thousands of police guarding a piece of empty field, instead of fighting crimes, speaks volume about how easily the 250,000 demonstrators can be provoked. The demonstrators’ patience were running thin with the government’s blatant daily cheating, what more that the Dataran belongs to the people and not DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall). PM Najib may be too arrogant (and stupid) to see through the aftermath of the rally.
Past Bersih 1.0 and 2.0 rallies had been peaceful and despite the same treatment of water cannon and tear gas, violence never happened. But this time not only you saw people risking getting injured storming razor-sharp barbed wires into Dataran Merdeka, you also witnessed chaos about police car being attacked, at least that was what they front-paged. Apparently the police only showed video clips about protesters throwing water bottles (and stone?) at police car and ended up with the aggressive youths overturning the car. They never show the clip about the police car accelerated and hit three people.
You can argue that the police car driver lost control due to mechanical reason or simply due to panic. But there’s something called brake or hand-brake. Even if the policeman felt threaten, he only need to stop the car and fire a warning shot into the air to send those people running for cover. Still, the juice of the story was the reason for the sudden rowdy behaviour. Such violence can only come from thugs disguise in yellow shirts and there’s no prize for guessing who paid them. Could the plan to create minor damage (to frontpage Bersih’s violence) backfire when the attacked police car driver panicked instead and hence the accident? Watch the video below.
The burning question is why the police decided to ambush and shoot tear gas at dispersing demonstrators who are already out of Dataran Merdeka’s proximity? If their job was to guard their crown jewel empty field Dataran Merdeka, they should just stay put and not chase them even to the train station. If the report about 68 Bersih supporters seeking medical treatment in Hospital Kuala Lumpur out of 388 arrests was any indicator, the government and police brutality has increase many folds. It was tweeted that detainee was beaten by police and arrested, brought to Pulapol and beaten again.
Student activist Khalid Ismath said every 15min protesters were admitted to emergency unit at KL Hospital – a very disturbing trend indeed. To worsen situation, lawyers were denied access to detainees at Pulapol, denying them the basic rights. Najib administration and the police were so paranoid about their brutality being exposed that they resorted to destroying phones and cameras’ evidence, as experienced first hand by Al Jazeera journalist who ended up reporting via Skype on iPad because the cops smashed their cameras.
Now, assuming the overturning of police car was not done by paid troublemakers. What does this means ultimately? Does it mean Bersih peaceful demonstrators have mutated to violent walking zombies? Or was it simply an early sign of an Arab Uprising in the making, which could spell the end of UMNO’s 50-year rule? Najib administration has to crack the da-Vinci code on why 250,000 people chose hours under 35°C burning sun, dehydration, water cannon, tear gas over the comfort of air-conditioned KLCC shopping complex. It’s laughable and amusing for Najib’s UMNO to cry till foam at mouth about Israel’s brutality when the same Tel Aviv exist in the very own backyard of this country.
- BBC News on Bersih 3.0 – What the government doesn’t want you to know
- Bersih 3.0 – Police Brutality
- The Real Reason Why Police Car was Over-Turned
- Another Police Brutality During Bersih 3.0 Rally
- Tens of Traffic Police Beating A Demonstrator
- For Taking Photos, Mr Lee was Attacked & Arrested by More than 10 Policemen
- Police Attack and Beat Yellow Shirts At Masjid India
- Cop Points Gun, like Cowboy, at Demonstrators
- Police Kicked Tear Gas Canister into Peaceful Demonstrators
- One Straw-Hat Man vs More Than 30 Armed Policemen
Other Articles That May Interest You …
- Aust senator teargassed in Malaysia
- Tear-gassed Xenophon says we must rethink Malaysia
- Update – Mother Of All Rallies Starts Early (Photos)
- Bersih 3.0 Rally – Here’re Your Survival Kits Checklist
- Bersih 3.0 – UMNO Insiders Hope For A Chaos Rally?
- Anwar And Opposition Are Worried – Mahathir Is Back
- Mahathir And His 3M Team Are Worried And Here’s Why
- Best Democracy In The World – Najib Impressed Obama
- Resign Or Snap Election For Najib, Here’re The Reasons
- Yes, PM Najib, You’re in Deep Shit & So Are Your Cronies
- Post-Bersih 2.0 Rally, Here Are The Winners (Photo)
- History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, Stupid People Repeat History