‘Dataran Maybank has become my Tahrir Square’

By Patrick Oh
Jul 13, 11 | Mkini

EYEWITNESS November 2007, I joined Bersih 1.0 as a young man in my twenties. The cause and objective were simple – reform for clean and fair elections with four demands.

At Bersih 1.0, the Chinese were the minority among the peaceful marchers. Even if there were Chinese around, they were mainly middle-aged males.

Four years on, I am now in my early thirties and I participated in Bersih 2.0.

I am not affiliated to any political party or any NGO, I am just a commoner who wish to live in a peaceful and harmonious country.

However, frustration has grown over the years when we see our corrupted government playing with race and religion to divide the rakyat.

When Bersih 2.0 was first launched a couple of months back, without any doubt, I knew that I would need to answer this call as a Bersih veteran.

I had since then played my part by creating awareness of Bersih through Facebook.

The day when the Bersih secretariat was raided, I was at the scene, I wanted to go and buy my Bersih 2.0 T-shirts for myself and some other supporters.

My anger grew stronger when Bersih was accused with all kind of absurd allegations when its fair and reasonable demands are merely to ensure a clean and fair election.

Later, all kind of threats and intimidation flooded in from Perkasa, thugs, silat groups.

Bully abuse

Since young, I had been vocal, I could never tolerate bully abuse. I even got myself into trouble when I tried to fend off some gangster in high school. Call me stubborn, but the tougher the opponent I get, the stronger I will rebound.

That is the principle of my life and that is how I grow up. Sensing potential threats, with my limited martial art knowledge. I was now even more determined to be the “guard” of Bersih supporters.

I believe that a true martial artist shall never use any force against good and peaceful citizens.

On a Friday evening, I spent two and a half hours to travel from Klang to City Centre, through three road blocks.

Dressed in a a yellow stripe shirt earlier during the day, I decided to change to a black T. My objective was simple, to make it to town and be present during the march.

But I needed to sneak in a low profile manner. I was lucky enough to secure a room in a budget hotel near Times Square and I spent my whole night on cyberspace trying to encourage more supporters to come.

I didn’t get much peaceful rest that night, I must be thinking too much, I called home to wish my parents well. I told my mum that I won’t be home tonight as I would be running errands out of town.

Nerves were tense, blood was boiling, but deep down in my heart, I was still afraid. Should I be afraid more of the threats from police or other unknowns? The sting of tear gas and water cannon spray from Bersih 1 was still fresh in my mind.

And with all the stern warnings from police to stay away from this rally, I could foresee there will be more tear gas and water cannon awaiting my revisit.

The showdown

I woke up early on 709 and decided to take a walk to the Bukit Bintang area. It was around 8.30am, there were already bunch of reporters around Mc’D on stand by.

The town was extremely quiet and I overheard a resident saying that the town would only be this quiet during Chinese New Year or Hari Raya. I hope that this was not a sign of the calm before the storm.
I also saw a familiar face walking in around.

After reading her blog today I can now confirm it was Marina Mahathir (left).

Everyone in the restaurant looked kind of tense as the Patriot group was supposed to show up at 10am. However, it was later confirmed that Patriot had postponed their gathering till 1300.
Tweeter informed that there were some supporters hanging around the Pavilion food court.

I decided to take a walk to Pavilion to check out our comrades.

Not much police personnel around except a few plainclothes cops around.

Finally reached Pavilion food court and spotted a bunch of youngsters, we looked into each other, we didn’t see yellow clothes at all, but we do see the yellow flame in our eyes.

Final showdown

It was around 11 now, I decided to walk back to hotel to charge my phone and take a shower for the final showdown.

By the time I checked out the hotel, it was noon. I walked back to Bukit Bintang area again, I passed by Time Square, and I didn’t see any yellow.

But I do see some lost souls wondering around these areas. In the fear that they could be plainclothes or potential silat or Perkasa members, my instinct told me not to exchange words with them.

I was kind of lost that time and did not know where to go to meet my fellow yellow warriors. I read a tweet that DAP members were gathering around Pudu Plaza.

But I somehow trusted my instincts and headed towards Kota Raya.
Now I see more people around, consisting of all races, walking in small groups of twos and threes. They do look ‘Clean’, I wonder if we are on the same side.

It was almost 13.00 now and I had finally reached Kota Raya. I saw a group of Malays with red arm bands around. I was terrified at first, was Patriot not supposed to gather at Bukit Bintang?

I was so worried that I would end up at the wrong place. Still a little bit confused,

I then heard chanting coming from Jalan Sultan side.
I walked towards them and I know I am in. I can hear the crowd chanting Bersih Bersih, Hidup Rakyat.

So emotional

The joy of meeting up with my comrades feels like reaching home, so emotional. I joined in the crowd and took out my Bersih 1 shirt and put it on immediately.

The crowds all cheer for me. A lot of young people, both Malay and Chinese took pictures with me and keep asking me where do I got my Bersih T from. I proudly told them, “saya dari Bersih 1.0”.

They were now even more excited now and we all joined hands and marched to Dataran Maybank together.

While enjoying the spotlight earlier, I was trying to observe the demographics of the supporters. I am not so good with crowd numbers, but I am very sure is more than 5-6k as claimed by IGP.
Young Malaysians

To my surprise, there were many young Malaysians. And from these many young Malaysians, I was even more surprised to see a lot of young Chinese from both genders.

The crowd started growing, we were all getting excited, some leaders gave speeches, I can’t remember who. My friend called me on the phone to check on the situation and I told him that the crowds could be as good as Bersih 1.

I have never been to Tahrir Square before, but Dataran Maybank now is a Tahrir Square to me. I see hope, I can see young people now do care about politics and upholding our rights, this will be the birth place for a better Malaysia.

Just like old times, we had water cannons laced with chemicals and the tear gas treatment.

Everyone dispersed and gathered again, and we were now pushed to Jalan Pudu, right in front of Plaza Rakyat.

When the police fire the first round of tear gas, everyone was so desperate for water.

The gas stung our eyes so badly and even if we did have a piece of cloth, it was still dry so it was basically useless.

Those who have water and salt just shared it out to everyone around regardless of race and religion.

We gathered again and wanted to march towards Pudu Jail but the police were blocked the other end and we were now being cornered from both sides.

I can’t exactly remember how many more rounds of tear gas had been launched at us.

Rain by God’s grace

As predicted by weather forecast, rain came by the mercy of God. At least the rainwater helped wash away the tear gas. At that juncture, I was taking a break on a lorong right opposite of Tung Shin hospital.

That was the time we saw tear gas fired into the hospital compound.

A Few young girls in front of me were getting so emotional and they started crying.

Who on earth would fire tear gas into a hospital compound? This is a totally insane and unforgivable act, yet it was denied by the IGP.

Now that we have all the pictures and video footage as proof, what do you say now?

Evidence being doctored? Or you want another royal inquiry to determine the authenticity of the proof??

The street was almost empty now as most had run into the hospital compound for shelter.

We were now on a dangerous spot where police could easily charge at us from both ends. We were then instructed to run across the road and go into the hospital compound. We sprinted in and I thought that we could be safe for now.

Five minutes on, we had been told to plan our escape as quickly as we can as police would be charging into the hospital compound to arrest people soon.

On my side, there was a tall gate, locked. Everyone helping each other to climb over the gate, we ran through the back lane of Tongkat Tung Shin and we saw another group of 30-40 policemenjust around the corner.

I am not sure if they spotted us, but we did managed to sneak past them. Totally exhausted, I really felt like giving up. Really thought of taking off my Bersih T and just walk away from the crowd.

But my conscience told me that the battle was not over yet, we must regroup again.

Those who managed to escape from the hospital gathered together again and marched towards Bukit Nenas. I do not know how many people were arrested within the hospital compound, I could only pray for their safety.

The rally goes on.With few thousand of us remaining, we walked through the streets of Tongkat Tong Shin, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Jalan Nagasari, Jln Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang and Jalan Dang Wangi junction.

We made a U-turn later and marched all the way back to Jalan Ampang heading to KLCC and finally stopped at the junction in front of KLCC and Public Bank. Crowds grow again over our journey as a lot of onlookers decide to join in our peaceful march.

Honking as sign of support

A lot of passing vehicles were all giving us honk as a sign of moral support. Throughout the journey, everyone chanted the Bersih slogan repeatedly. Here I would like to pay my special respects to a young Indian lady.

She had been chanting “Bersih Bersih, Pilihan Raya” throughout the whole journey. Her determination shook me. I hope her throat is recovered by now.

It was almost 16.00 now, we were now seated at the junction in front of KLCC, we sang the national anthem in high spirits, followed by a short speech by two or three politicians. Before we could disperse peacefully, the FRU were there again and started giving chase to us.

We ran towards KLCC Park and everyone started to disperse on their own.

It was already close to 16.15pm.

I then took a solo walk back to Times Square again. I had a lot to reflect upon.

I met a lot of people and heard some inspiring stories. I also witnessed how amazingly courageous some individuals were.

I saw the ‘Lady of Liberty’ during the march, I walked with someone on the wheelchair.

There was also the energetic flash mob group trying to cheer people up.

There were also the smiles and the tears on everyone’s face.

The war is not over yet.

It will be ongoing until we achieve our objective to have a clean and fair election.

  1. #1 by for my country1 on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 - 2:56 pm

    God bless you!
    You are a brave soul and a true malaysian.

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