For those who can’t be bothered to read, the following short video (less than 3 minutes) illustrates my experience at Bersih 3.0. I also previously attended Bersih 2.0 and wrote about it here.
Bersih 2.0 (the body, yes it is confusing), has 8 demands, they are:
- clean the electoral roll
- reform postal ballot
- use of indelible ink
- minimum 21 day campaign period
- free and fair access to media
- strengthen public institutions
- stop corruption
- stop dirty politics
we took the train to pasar seni, saw national laureate A. Samad Said
I believe that our country really needs a change to the right direction, the demands of Bersih would prove to be a huge step forward. I participate in Bersih rallys to show support for these demands.
outside bar council
As access to the city is mostly blocked, a few friends and I took the train to Pasar Seni, one of the points of assembly for Bersih. We arrived at around noon and already there was quite a large crowd. Spotted the national laureate A Samad Said.
outside bar council
We walked from Pasar Seni to Bar Council to Masjid Jamek and ultimately stopped at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman right in front of Swiss Hotel. For the most part, the atmosphere was that of a festivity. People singing Bersih Bersih, and there was even a jamming session going on.
There were quite a lot of police everywhere, but they were content just standing at their “stations” and let everyone be. At a lorong, 2 lines of policemen seemed to be blocking the road, but we walked passed them via the sidewalk and they didn’t even blink.
jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, duduk bantah
The crowd was massive, it was definitely several times bigger than last year’s rally. We were content just sitting under the hot sun on the street, and to us, that was it. If we can’t get to Dataran Merdeka, so be it, we’ll just around it.
For the record, I believe Dataran Merdeka was in no danger whatsoever. The razor wire and heavy presence of FRU & Police forces guarding a piece of grass from peaceful protestors was really silly.
this was as close as we got to Dataran Merdeka
By this time we had already spent over 3 hours walking and sitting around KL under the hot sun. It was almost time to call it a day, I was going to leave at 4pm, the scheduled time for Bersih to end. (unbeknown to us, the leader of Bersih already called off the rally by then)
the eyes in the sky
Then, just before 4pm, when we were some 50-100 meters from the junction between Jalan TAR and Jalan Tun Perak, tear gas canisters were shot seemingly without warning. We made our retreat, at first a fast walk, and as the effect of the gas worsen, we ran.
Later we found out that there were apparently a few guys that broke the barricade and tried to get into Merdeka Square, that was what started it all. Instead of firing teargas/water cannon only at those who broke the barrier, tear gas canister were fired deep into the crowd.
We were at least 200 meters out and still felt the gas (actually it’s an acid mix)
this was some 150 meters away from the barrier, and yet we felt the tear gas
We made our way to Dang Wangi and seek refuge at Cap Square for a while, having something to drink and then eventually left town to PJ.
For us, the rally ended. Some of my friends though, were not as lucky, a few got “trapped” near Masjid Jamek and gassed a couple times, and got ambushed and tear gassed again when they tried to go to Pasar Seni. I thought FRU was trying to disperse the crowd, but why are they preventing people from going to the LRT stations?
I’m sure you can and probably read about accounts of violence (from both parts), so I shall not repeat.
Elsewhere in Penang and Ipoh, protestors went to the fields and sat for two hours then dispersed without incident. Why was Merdeka Square not made available?
Unfortunately, face was more important than logic on that day.