Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Bersih 3.0 experience

Got up early on 28th April because I planned to give my daughter a bath, but she was asleep. After doing some shores, I drove to Kelana Jaya train station and bought a ticket to Central Market. It's been a long time since the last time I used any public transportation. There were many people wearing Bersih 3.0 shirt, and also other yellow shirts. Bersih 3.0 gathering was held, and this is the third time to demand for a fair general election as it was exposed phantom voters were used in previous elections and also will be used in the coming election. It is also to demand a fairer mainstream media (not lying and manipulated news) and some other demands (8 points overall). I saw mostly Chinese people at this point and place, some of them parked at the same spot with me, some came in big cars, husband and wives, with family and friends. Some walked long distance to reach the station.

I went alone; I didn’t plan to meet anyone at the peaceful protest. But I’m very sure I’ll meet someone I know and can hang out with. I was wearing a grey, Kuchalana band t-shirt so I guess people didn’t know I was going to the protest. But I went as a participant, not as a spectator as some claimed (because not wearing yellow shirt). As I reached Central Market station around 12pm, I saw a lot of people crowding at a corner. I saw A. Samad Said, one of two leaders of the peaceful protest was guarded by around 20 cops. He was sitting on the floor, on praying mats, and was reading a book; it was a sad scene to look at. A national poet and writer, old and armless were arrested. But like the last Bersih 2.0, all leaders were caught by the cops as soon as they enter the city. There were so many people; it was like a carnival that took place all over KL city. Everyone was having a smile, laugh and a good chat. There were a lot of people on a stage at Central Market’s front door. Later I found out Ambiga (the other leader of Bersih 3.0) were there meeting the people and took photographs and staffs. 

I head to Central Market and walked beside the market as the entrance and the whole Central Market was closed down. As I walked I met Amert, Aniq and his friend. I walked with them and took photos with my mobile phone. We walked with the others and saw some of our friends were ‘busking’ and making and making music with bottles, sticks, police cones and other found objects in front of a closed shop. All shops were closed. There was a stall selling burgers and drinks though. And they made a lot of money, from what I saw. Some news vendors and restaurants plus chain restaurants were operating and they are all packed with customers. But anti-protest people kept on saying that all business couldn’t operate and lose a lot of money on this day, duh! We hanged there for a while, the people are sitting at the sidewalks, singing and chanting -all peaceful. 

Then we walked towards Masjid Jamek (mosque). I felt hungry and Aniq’s friend gave me a bread to eat. Amert asked me whether I brought my asthma inhaler, but I totally forgot! The street was so packed with people. I went inside the mosque to perform Zohor prayer. Then Ambiga, Hishamuddin Rais and Anwar came in a jeep with others and gave a short speech. They asked us to sit, but most of us can’t do so as the whole street and the mosque were totally packed. There was no extra space at all. Ambiga said we will disperse now. But it’s not even 3 yet. It was scheduled that we will gather from 2 to 4 pm. The participants chant and shout to go to Dataran Merdeka even though it was sealed off as commanded by the government and was guarded with cops around it and also razor wire. We marched towards Dataran Merdeka, and we heard cheer and applause. I thought the protesters at the front managed to deal with the cops to enter Dataran Merdeka. So we walked, and walked then suddenly people at the front asked us to move back and run. The cops shot us with tear gas, a few shots. We ran, to the mosque to wash our faces. It was chaotic so suddenly. We then sat and chatted at the mosque area, on the grass looking at what’s happening in KL city today –so many people with festival atmosphere. We thought we were safe. Then, we were shot with tear gas again, with tear gas from all corners including in the mosque! 

We ran, and walked to the street again, watching protesters confronting the cops. Then we were shot again and everyone ran to save their lives. This time I coughed so hard, and felt like fainting. I need my inhaler. I ran towards the LRT station. It was closed down. Some people were resting there. I sat on the floor, took deep breaths then I felt okay again. I thought of leaving the place and go to the book fair, but the LRT station was closed. I walked by myself and found a restaurant. It was opened and I decided to have lunch and rest for a while. Since I can’t go back, I sat at OCBC Bank and saw Pijan. He brought along a skateboard in case the cops hit him. I saw the protestors confronting the cops, they throw bottles and other objects to the cops, and the cops do the same. Some protestors were caught and hit. And a cop was flying-kicked by someone, in front of my face. It was all out of control. I decided to walk to the Plaza Rakyat station and took a train to the book fair. Many had left the place by this time, it was 6 pm. I saw at their faces, they were relieved, enjoyed and satisfied with their act, joining the supposedly ‘peaceful’ protest. They came from faraway places from all over the country to join and share their voice and story about their dissatisfaction about the government and corrupted politicians. 

I think the Duduk Bantah (sit in protest) would be continually a peaceful protest if the cops were there and took care of the participants. And the government should just let the demonstrator use the Dataran Merdeka, as the name suggests, it’s a “free space”. All the chaos happened because the demonstrators at the forefront knocked down the cops who guarded Dataran Merdeka. So, the cops started using tear gas and water cannon to disperse us. There were also some cops that disguised as demonstrators and started throwing stuffs at another cop to start the fight and chaotic situation. This was done maybe to show that all intended peaceful protest will definitely end in chaos. All peaceful protests are intended to damage public properties. This is what the government want the others to belief; this is what the mainstream newspaper and TV are saying.

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