By Pang Teck Yaw
The Malaysian Insider
May 01, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — My name is Pang Teck Yaw. I am a student of law. I must admit reading law has been both a joyful and heartbreaking experience. During the course of my study, I read about the concept of separation of power, judiciary independence, the supremacy of constitutional rights, but it’s heartbreaking because all these are fiction to a certain extent.
That’s why I decided to attend Bersih and the reason is to convince myself what I studied can be employed in Malaysia, that I can exercise my right as a Malaysian.
I must admit I do have fear because my exam is around the corner, and at the eve of 26 and 27 of April, policemen were spotted in my college.
To be on the safe side, I stayed overnight at Jalan Sultan with no idea what’s going to happen the next day.
Nevertheless, the experience was eye opening. 9.30 am, the streets was already crowded with people. I felt so happy and proud. Never had I seen so many Chinese at Jalan Sultan. People were having a good time, some people were playing instruments, some were making friends, I had a pleasant surprise to see so many of my schoolmates and students turn up. I am very sure, the hawkers around there were making big money.
At 12.30, I noticed that the crowd was moving, so I tagged along. The spirit was high, the gathering was peaceful, we gathered at Dataran Maybank and from there we proceeded to Masjid Jamek and we stay there. The place was so packed that we literally had no place to sit. At 1.30 a few opposition members presented their speeches and clearly the crowd was roused especially when Anwar spoke. Finally, Ambiga was there, she declared that we had archived our objectives and asked us to disperse.
Unfortunately, the crowd was showing high emotions; some people around me even said that they just arrived and they refused to go back. They were people shouting “Dataran, Dataran”.
After a while, I saw the crowd in front of me clapping hands and chanting Bersih as though they just won a war, and started to march forward.
My first instinct was the police had backed down and they allowed us to proceed.
We marched for about 10 minutes, when suddenly tear gas was fired at us. We were really confused because we thought the police allowed us to march forward.
The crowd panicked and we started to move back. To our horror, even when we were retreating, more tear gas was fired. We felt fear and panic because there were old people among us. The place was so packed and we had no room to disperse and we couldn’t rush fearing that people might fall down and got injured. The police had not given us enough time to disperse.
I was shocked to see there were children below 5 crying and shouting looking for their parents. Some people were fainting, a person’s head was badly injured because one tear gas canister landed directly on his head.
The tear gas was fired rapidly and was too unbearable. Therefore, some of us decided to climb over a wall into a mosque beside Masjid Jamek station. As we were resting inside the mosque, tear gas was still being fired.
We were trapped inside the mosque as the entrance was blocked by the FRU. We could clearly see water cannons were being deployed around Jalan Mahkamah. There is a platform connecting the mosque to the corridor of Masjid Jamek LRT station and people were risking their life trying to cross over to the other side.
I stayed inside the mosque for one hour and after that I made my way to Masjid Jamek LRT station. Surprisingly, the LRT station had been shut down. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the water cannon truck fired towards the crowd outside the LRT station.
We were really confused, whether they want us to disperse or to isolate us and exterminate us.
People started to run, we managed to gather at the side corridor of Masjid Jamek LRT station near the river and opposite us is the mosque that I was trapped earlier. Until that time, there were still people trapped inside the mosque. Two people fainted at the corridor; the medic team were looking after them. At that time, behind us was Masjid Jamek LRT station and it was blocked by FRU and the only way out is to move forward.
We carried the injured and moved forward. To our dismay, tear gas was fired at us. We were trapped again, we were confined to the corridor area and there was no way out.
Luckily, there was a van selling drinks, Needless to say, he was making big money too. After a while, we decided to move forward again.
By then, an ambulance had come and the injured was in good hands. As we moved forward to Jalan Pudu, tear gas was still being fired at us. I was puzzled, because we just wanted to go back and there was only a maximum 25 of us. By the way, two tourists were around that area too.
When we reached Jalan Pudu, the LRT at Plaza Rakyat was not functioning. We were told that we had to move to Monorail Jalan Maharajalela to leave.
From there, everything was safe. After I reached home, I could not help but to feel disgusted towards the police force. I must admit, I lost all my respect towards them. I am convinced until now that they planned to isolate and attack us tactically from the very beginning.