Saturday, July 9, 2011
9 July 2011 - The Voice of the People - And a Beautiful Rally
Press conference by Datuk Ambiga the morning before Bersih 2.0
After a week of sleepless nights, for the fear and excitement which was to come the day finally came and I'm glad to be a part of it once more and lived to tell the tale.
Perhaps if I didn't put my thoughts in writing tonight, I will not be able to get sleep :)
I have been sleeping on an average of 4 1/2 to 5 hours a day, something which I'm not supposed to be doing nor proud of. But since we live in exciting times, I just can't help but to wake up and not be able to sleep again.
Today, 9 July 2011, once again history was made. Once again, we have shown the government that we are capable of calling their bluff on their fear threats.
KL city, as of Friday evening was at a locked down. We made mental and spiritual preparations (prayer service and also yum char / discussion sessions on tactics and routes) as we hear news of the government warning us not to participate in these 'haram' rallies. Undoubtedly we were fearful, but at that point in time, perhaps we have crossed the line of being fearful. Rather we felt that we could no longer tolerate the hypocritical stance made by the government. We have always been fed blatant lies and even up to the point of our beloved PM seemingly granting a truce for Bersih 2.0 to be held in a stadium after meetings with the Agong, only to find out that he has retracted his stance. So much for being our esteemed leader when we can't even trust his word anymore. Was it there to begin with?
We planned carefully of what to bring and how our bags could fit anything yellow. We heard that there will be roadblocks (and yes, true enough streets with 5 lanes were forced to become 1) and that there will be bag checks in the LRT. Nevertheless we decided to leave earlier and God-willing to have breakfast in the heart of KL (Petaling Street Area). We planned to move from KL Sentral as we heard that Pasar Seni was already locked down by the Police.
I couldn't sleep much. The anticipation and excitement was there. And for once, I felt the fear of arrest, which in these times proved so much more real than the other rallies that I went to including the First Bersih. We know that the PM will do everything to hinder Bersih 2.0.
Come morning, I met up with Kah Weng and Wil Liam. We were on the way when we got the call from Colin stating that Pasar Seni is opened and that we could move in there immediately. We duely did that. And then we caught up with Yuk Meng in Bangsar LRT station. Surprised to see him there cause we thought he would leave with Sze Hoo. But nevertheless, we were on this together and it was good we caught up with him.
We were able to catch up with the group at Lai Foong Coffee Shop. It's been a while since I've eaten the beef noodles there. They say that its real good. After all these years, I still think it's mediocore. Hahah. Sorry. Not doing a food posting here. But, as said, we met with the larger group consisting of Colin, Simon, Desmond, Huey, Jude, KayX, Ashley, Eddy, SzeHoo and Mee Chuen. And then Alvin came not long after. Colin had another group following him, the peeps from FES. We were introduced to each other. In the coffee shop we saw the usual suspects for the rallies, familiar faces but people who would go out to fight for justice and have a hunger for a better Malaysia.
I called my colleagues, who were starting their journey from Sentral and told them to try to meet us up here safely. They said they would. The streets around Petaling Street were however eerily quiet.
Close to 12.30 pm, we watched a large group coming from Dayabumi, but blocked by the police barricade. However, we also saw more and more people rallying and gathering at Petaling Street and from our sources, we heard that the march to Stadium Merdeka had already begun. Awesome.
We went to Petaling Street and waited. The crowd grew. And then suddenly we heard cheers aloud. The group which had a stand off with the police at the Bar Council had now journeyed it's way to meet up with the Petaling Street group. And then with perhaps close to 5000 people by now, we marched to the Stadium shouting chants of "Hidup Bersih!" and "Hidup Rakyat" which translates to "Life to the People". And this is the point where we changed to our Yellow apparel or wear anything significantly Yellow in support of the wave. It was massive! Seeing people gather for a cause is such a beautiful thing.
Upon finding that the roads to the Stadium were barricaded, we walked back towards Kota Raya with the crowd. News, was that the crowd was meeting at Menara Maybank. We walked nevertheless. I caught up with my colleague at some point and I was quite surprised to see my boss, Mr Siva in the walk. At the moment, I felt deeply encouraged knowing that the people in my firm supported this cause with all their hearts and was more than willing to come to the city on 9 July 2011 in support of people power. Oh yeah, we picked up Eugene at this juncture as well. We were glad to have found him here!
Anyway, when we reached Menara Maybank, the group had easily swelled to about 30,000 people, so some say. Of course the mainstream media will spin its lies stating only 3000 instead.
Not everyone wore yellow but the fact of being there already speaks magnanimous volumes for fighting for their cause!
Here are a few pics of us, enjoying the Rally and were in party mood. :) The guilty parties.
The atmosphere was electrifying to say the least. The crowd this time round was definitely bigger than Bersih 1.
That's Colin by the way. Our group's organizer and leader. Some say he is Taliban. I refuse to believe those dodgy comments. :) nyahahaha
And here you can see happy smiling faces.
Was there any malice or violent intent? Surely not :)
But no, the police would never stand down. And soon they deployed teargas and watercannons onto the peaceful protestors. We were made to understand that the chemicals laced in the water cannons were by far worst than ever and more potent. But in the spirit of true Malaysians, those who were in trouble, from the effects of the teargas were quickly offered aid by those around them. When one falls, there will be at least 10 to pick him/her up. :) Incredible spirit by the people.
And so, the large entourage now at Menara Maybank had no choice but to rally at Puduraya station. And here once again, the people have proved that they were discipline enough and marched for peace and solidarity.
And one point the rallyers were sitting on the road, peacefully and tried to negotiate with the men in blue. However, teargas was once again fired and there is evidence that the people were even manhandled and beaten by the police and even so, they refused to retaliate. Truly their spirit, determination and discipline is greatly admired.
Below is a video of proof that they were manhandled, beaten and arrested from Malaysiakini and Al-Jazeerah
And this is where we felt the full effects of the teargas. It had been a cat and mouse game. Each time they fired, the people backed, but return with more conviction than ever. And once again the police were relentless in firing the teargas canisters. We were tearing and some us felt like we needed to vomit to lessen the effects of it. It was bad but we survived it. Later did we only found out that the gas was quite lethal and there was a fatal casualty in connection with the suffocation effects that the teargas brings.
Eventually we managed to get to safer and higher ground and we rallied to a friend's office to rest and recharge. By this time, some of us have split up. Simon, Jude and Huey would eventually follow the large crowd to KLCC for another showdown. And this is the place where a supporter died from the suffocation effects of the tear gas. His name was Baharuddin Ahmad, and his death will not be in vain. :)
After resting at our friend's office near Bursa Malaysia, we eventually decided that we have done our part and now plan to go back to where we came from. However at that point in time, LRT's were still closed and we hear of arrests now made in KLCC, perhaps the final showdown.
Previously there was another showdown at Merdeka Stadium where we were told that the police, initially agreed to give safe passage to the protestors but eventually launched an attack on the protestors after giving false leeway. And this group was forced to move to Pasar Seni, where they were once again surrounded by tear gas.
In the end, we received news that Datuk A Samad Said, our national laureate, had successfully handed the memorandum at the Istana Negara. During this time, we perhaps knew that the group in Pudu was the decoy group perhaps leading much of the police away from the other group. Bravo! Mission accomplished thought casualties were in place.
To sum it all up, it was an awesome Saturday, this 9 July 2011 was.
I'm truly encouraged by the turn out though it could have been more people if not for the police and the FRU. But I do believe the numbers have surpassed the first Bersih and this time, although i see the familiar faces, new friends and comrades join in the fight against injustice and this is truly encouraging.
Few points to be taken from the rally:-
1. The People rallied not just for cleaner elections, but to make a stand against the fear put unto them.
2. The People are tired of the government's double standards of treatment
3. The People are more aware than ever of half baked truths spun by the mainstream media
4. The Police do not act fair (The police aimed their tear-gas guns directly at the civilians, they have no sense of fair rules of engagement even when the protestors sat down to show that they are there in peace and the attacks on the protestors in Tung Shin Hospital are just distasteful and disrespectful - the videos shown below are proof of that)
5. The government shows it's fear towards the people and it's beautiful idea of democracy (suggesting perhaps that they have much to hide)
6. Once again, the protestors showed great discipline and brotherly love towards one another and even against the FRU's and the police without retaliating amidst the violent treatment towards them. An eye for an eye? Unlikely. But as a friend of mine , Wil Liam was saying, the treatment meted out by the police is as such - "you don't kill a mosquito with a gun" - More pics and videos on this below.
7. Two weeks of Bersih propaganda has united Malaysians more than 2 years of 1Malaysia ever did and this was quoted by Sze Hoo, another fellow marcher.
8. We are and can always be a united nation when we recognize that we can no longer be merely tolerant with each other but truely embrace the difference and the diversity that each of us has to offer. And in this diversity, Unity is achieved when we fight for a common and higher purpose.
And I also want to take this time to send my sincere condelences to the family of Mr Baharuddin Ahmad, who had died due to breathing difficulties from the effects of the tear gas. It truly saddens me and his death was an unnecessary one if we had a truly competent government. Though I do not know him, I do hope that his passing would not be in vain and people, please do not let his efforts be in vain as well. Please be reminded and honour him, when you cast your vote in the coming elections. Cast it well.
And further pictures that speak more than words itself. Beautiful pictures from Al-Jazeerah
This is a picture of someone known as "auntie Anne" - her courage and resilience is truly inspiring.
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN!! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!