Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Yellow Brick Road

Last year 9 July I didn't take part in Bersih 2.0 because I was afraid. But this time Bersih 3.0, I wasn't anymore.

So yesterday morning wifey & I had our breakfast at Happy Garden and walked to the Sri Petaling Station to join in the Duduk Bantah. We were supposed to meet up with her colleagues but since they were late and we were concerned that the authorities might shut down the station, we boarded the train to KL ourselves at 10am. We saw more people in yellow boarding the train from Bukit Jalil, Bandar Tasik Selatan, Cheras, etc.

A nice 30-min-ride and we reached Plaza Rakyat and went straight to Petaling Street. The place looked kinda like a carnival, a street party, if you like. There were small groups of people holding up their banners and some people playing music & dancing around. No police man in sight but there was a helicopter flying around... checking on the situation, I think.

The REAL Petaling Street Warriors
While we were all there to demand a clean & fair election, I certainly did not feel like the atmosphere was as tensed as I had expected. Everyone was making themselves heard in their unique ways.
It's been a while since we wore the same colour
 Last night, there were unconfirmed news that our PDRM might be using some hi-tech sonic equipment on the protesters and so I brought my own protection, just in case.

Custom made earplugs
 Back in the uni days in Sydney, I used to work as an earplug tester for a company and they had to test this new product. So they made me these earplugs.

They fit only my ears
 As we were only supposed to start walking to Dataran Merdeka at 1.30pm, we walked about Petaling Street to see the whole area. While most shops were closed, there were still some activities with some of the vendors.
This group seemed to be getting a lot of attention
It felt like a street party

Not sure he was a vendor or he came with the sign

Petaling Street with no fake products? Sure...
Interesting to note that the mata kucing & soya bean stalls were very busy serving their drinks. The Chatime outlet in Petaling Street was closed though. Otherwise, I am very sure they will also have a long queue of Bersih supporters ordering their drinks.

Good business...

By 11am, the crowd grew bigger as more people began to  arrive.

Still, the general feeling is very calm and not agressive.We managed to meet up with wifey's colleagues and we walked together from McD to Nando's to wait for "further instructions". According to one of the collegues, when the time came, there would be someone who would tell us when to start moving to Dataran Merdeka. We saw Selangor Assembly speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim ariving with an entourage.

Another photo op
He was playing Rasa Sayang

We decided to eat a bit before the walk began and since earlier, wifey had been eyeing this fried fish from this Restoran Hameed, we had a quick lunch there. She ordered the fish while I only had Milo Kosong Ais.

I kid you not. Business was very good
 By the time we came back from lunch, her colleagues appeared to have moved. Phone signals were very bad at that time and we were unable to contact anyone. And so, we were back alone.

He was the only one there where we last saw her colleagues
We assumed that they might have started walking towards Dataran Merdeka as we could see people moving already. So we just followed the crowd and walked towards Dataran Merdeka.

Showing their "love" for our leaders

Some chanting happening here

Today's rally was sponsored by Maybank
 All the way along Jalan Tun Perak, we could hear Bersih and Anti-Lynas chants. Of course there were also reformasi & anti-BN chants but they were not as strong as the Bersih & Anti-Lynas chants. I also mentioned to wifey that this rally cannot be political and I refused  to chant anything but Bersih chants, maybe Anti-Lynas  too.

More people marching behind us
Then I heard one very loud chant led by a guy. I turned to look and commented to wifey that the guy looked like the char koay teow guy in the food court near our home. She exclaimed, "It's him-la!' I didn't think it was him at first because he always appeared very slumber and relaxed at his stall and not as energetic as he was here.

I said hi to him and asked in cantonese, "so, no need to open your stall?" His reply was, "Today I am not opening  my stall, today I want to BERSIH!"

Trust a penangite when he says the FKT is good
We kept walking as wifey wanted to be in the frontline. And we could feel that the excitement level growing as we moved closer to the Jalan Raja-Jalan Tun Perak junction. There were a couple of police vehicles and some policemen stationed along Jalan Tun Perak but they only observed everything. Occassionally they were directing traffic.

PAS' Unit Amal Malaysia were very disciplined

More love for our leader
We managed to squeeze our way through the crowd and were about 100 metres away from the barricades. At that point, it was around 1.30pm.

The barricades

Huge group from Parliment I think
 As we could not proceed further, some people sat on the road and we decided to sit for a while too. Then we got up to give way to the police we walked passed earlier. They were moving to be behind the barricades. There were so many with their own chants & shouts but they were chanting Bersih slogans and some pro-opposition or anti-BN stuff. We tried to sit down again but there were so many of us that it was really difficult getting everyone to sit down. Then some political leaders were being led to the barricades and we had to get up because we could be stepped on. Also, there was a guy who asked us to be careful of "instigators" and we were afraid there could be a stampede should things turned ugly.

Chants of "We Want Dataran!", "Buka!" could be heard throughout and there was a moment that we all stood to sing "Negaraku". There were a couple of occasions, in the midst of all the chanting,  I was almost moved to tears because I saw a Malaysia, regardless of race or religion, coming together for a common cause. I finally understood some of the feelings those who went on 9 July felt.

Around 240pm, the crowd got excited as Datuk Ambiga, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, Lim Kit Siang & Nurul Izzah made their way to the front. We all cheered for them.

It appeared to me that Datuk Ambiga was gesturing to us to disperse but I couldn't be sure as we all could not hear anything.(Note: from news report, she had earlier made her speech at the Masjid Jamek Station telling everyone that the objective had been achieved and everyone should go home). Shouts of "Buka!" "Duduk!" became even stronger as at the point no one knew what was going on.

Then, I saw some people rushing to the barricade and the policemen behind the barricade moved away. People began to cheer and most were getting ready to occupy Dataran Merdeka. I stood and observed what Datuk Ambiga was doing and she was trying to tell the people to retreat. Too late, as the police fired their water cannons. Wifey I quickly put on our goggles and took out our towels to cover our faces. Then we saw cannisters were fired. That was when everyone got panicky and began to rush back to Jalan Pudu junction.

Situation got chaotic as we were trying to run away from the tear gas(the riot police vehicle with the water cannon were still behind the barricades). However, in the chaos, I saw something else. We were sharing salt & water and young men helping old people to move away from the tear gas. In front of me I saw a Unit Amal Malaysia man protecting an old chinese uncle shouting "Ada orang tua!" to make sure that nobody pushed him.

Thanks to our goggles, our eyes were spared from the tear gas, though we felt it on our skin, nose lips. At first I thought our lips and nose were going to burn but after a while, the discomfort was gone.

We ran back to the front of Menara Maybank and set by the pavement. The phone signal was back and I called OCD to let him know I was ok, while wifey texted her sister. I thought it was over but later people were running again as the police decide move in with their riot vehicle & more cannisters were fired.

We had to decide where to go- Pudu or Petaling Street. We retreated to Petaling Street as we had planned to eat there anyway.
Back to Petaling Street

The police continued to fire their tear gas outside Petaling Steet while we walked about looking for food. We were planning to eat the baked fish but the stall tak buka. We ended up sitting at this bahkua shop while I ate a bahkua bun. Made 2 new friends who shared our table- it was their first time too. We found out from them that the Plaza Rakyat station has been closed by the police. I called Andy from church to check with him- earlier over the phone he said that he was going home. He confirmed the situation and the stupid thing was, he was already inside the station but the train wouldn't stop to pick up passengers.

Wifey was still hungry and there were still tear gas around and we couldn't just hog the table after I finished. Finally we decided to take our chances by going out to Nando's which we saw was open in the morning. Thankfully, it was still open and we went in for our dinner before we walked to Hang Tuah Station(advised by wifey's resourceful colleague) to take our train back to Sri Petaling.

With that, our involvement in Bersih 3.0 came to an end.

It has been an eye-opener being part of Bersih 3.0. I managed to catch a glimpse of how Malaysia can be in the chaotic moment- Someone share his salt with us, I gave my water to the people around me to wash their eyes, all done without looking at the colour of our skins. But why only have this when we are put into a situation? Shouldn't this be a natural thing to do as we watch one another's back as Malaysians?



Hilda Looi said...

Thank you for taking us thru your journey at Bersih. Ours wasn`t that eventful as we were allowed to gather at Esplanade. There were no heavy PDRM standby, only St John`s mobile clinic & ambulance. Let's pray for a real Bersih election.

SanthiWong said...

Wahlau...terror la you two...police sibuk firing tear gas and you two sibuk cari dinner? Tabik!

Dawn Tan said...

Your sharing is so touching it made me wanna cry... ~<3

Dawn Tan said...

Btw... where's the CKT guy selling? wanna go there and try his CKT one day. =)

shades said...

Santhi: Give me food or give me death!

Dawn: Kuchai Lama Food Court at the Jln Kelang Lama-Jalan Puchong Junction. He is local but he learned from his sifu from Penang.