428 Bersih 3.0: We allow peaceful assembly but won’t tolerate when it gets too peaceful with 200K crowd

by Richard Loh

We came in peace and will leave in peace but alas many were not allowed to do so. You can make your own conclusion whether my blog title “We allow peaceful assembly but won’t tolerate when it gets too peaceful with 200K crowd” is true or otherwise after reading my article!

We have heard many asking, including a senior journalist why Bersih not taking up the offer of Merdeka Stadium. These people must be naive to believe what the government said after having experienced the flip flop offer on Bersih 2.0.

The main objective of the government is to prevent any Bersih rally from happening and should it happened some sort of provocations need to be initiated to cause chaos. You can bet that if Bersih 3.0 initially was to plan the rally at Stadium Merdeka, this venue will be rejected. Any initial venue proposal by Bersih 3.0 will be rejected to create confusion and frustration, hence Bersih 3.0 is smart this time round not to play their game.

Knowing that they cannot stop the rally, their next modus operandi is to create and cause as much inconvenience not only to those who are attending but other visitors coming in to Kuala Lumpur as well, to make them angry and hate any rally that is going on.I attended two anti ISA and two Bersih rallies and all the time they were very peaceful until the FRU started firing tear gas and water canon onto the peaceful crowd. Bersih3.0 is no different from where I was walking around, PEACEFUL.

I reached KL on Thursday afternoon and pay a visit to the two groups, #OcuppyDataran and #SolidaritiMahasiswa, they were still at Dataran Merdeka under the watchful eyes of DBKL personnel. No police around and the road leading to Dataran were not closed or blocked. Hanging around for a short while to lend support, I left half an hour later. Everything was very peaceful and you can see tourist buses bringing in tourists.

But the whole scene at Dataran Medeka changed when I return on Friday afternoon and night. Both ends of the road were blocked, nobody can enter and you can see groups of policemen inside. A group of about thirty plain cloth men, presumably the SB, were getting their briefing at the sitting area fronting the art gallery. Still no FRU truck in sight. Heard that they obtained a court order to completely shut down Dataran Merdeka. The order was pasted around Central Market, see pic below.

Late into Friday night, a couple of thousands were already rallying at the junction at Jalan Raja next to the LRT station. Heard they were from the #SolidaritiMahasiswa group. No FRU and policemen to stop them, the group singing and once a while chanting, BERSIH and REFORMASI. I left around midnight and feel that everything will be alright for tomorrow’s Bersih 3.0 rally but deep inside my heart I sense that they are not going to allow the rally to be peaceful.

I intended to sleep till checkout time but was awaken by a text message around nine. A friend were already at Jalan Sultan with thousands grouping up at that starting point. I was totally awaken when I look out from my hotel room, hundreds of people wearing the yellow Bersih 3.0 T-shirt were already streaming into Central Market. I regain full energy and get ready to join the group at Central Market.

I checked out from the hotel and walked around the Central Market area, Petaling Street and other roads leading to Dataran Merdeka. Everywhere there are people, most wearing yellow T. A few coffee shops were open and they were jammed pack with people, all trying to fill their stomach before the sit in protest at 2pm.

I walk towards the bridge near the bar council, the crowd were building up there as the bridge on this side were barricaded with barb wires. All the people were singing and chanting, festivity like and PEACEFUL.

As the clock ticks towards midday, there were already thousands of people, from Central Market, Jalan HS Lee to Jalan Tun Perak. The whole length of Jalan Tun Perak were really packed. I tried to walk towards Masjid Jamek, squeezing inch by inch but gave up half way near Mountbatten Hotel. When I reached Jalan HS Lee another group of people were streaming in, watch my amateur video. I stood at this point till 2pm when we were told to join the group at Menara Maybank. I walked towards Menara Maybank to see another big group over there.

I attended this rally joining the 200K or so people to show support calling for free and fair election, I came in peace and will leave in peace. By 3pm I saw many were leaving and I also decided to go home. From our end here we did not hear of the chaos happening on the other end as our phones were blocked by some jamming device since morning. The LRT station at Pudu Sentral were already packed when I reached there.

After lining up for nearly 20 minutes I managed to buy the ticket and was wondering why the station is till packed with people when the train are in operation. I went up to the waiting deck and soon realised why, the train was not stopping. I waited and 8 trains pass by without stopping even though they were less than half fill.

Yes, this time round they allowed you freedom to enter smoothly but will not allowed you to go back easily, an entrapment. I decided to go back to the street hoping to catch a bus or taxi but what a surprised, no buses and all taxis will not stop to pick you up even though they have no passengers. By this time entry to the LRT station were closed, nobody can enter. I met a few youths, theirs eyes were blurry and said they were tear gased. There is no where we can go except to hang around Jalan Pudu. We saw people running from Jalan Tun Perak around Menara Maybank and Petaling Street with white smoke as their background.

By this time we heard that the FRU and police were starting their major offensive, firing tear gas and arresting people, hitting anyone they caught including reporters. As more people pours into Jalan Pudu, I sense that I have to move away from here and start joining others walking towards Bukit Bintang.

My fear turns true that they are not happy when you gather too peacefully, they have to create some chaos to strike fear onto the general public. Both sides are blaming each other but even if it is true that a handful of rowdy protesters started the melee it does not warrant the police to start the big crackdown. This is exactly their intention, taking a very small opportunity to realised their modus operandi of total chaos.

I would like to point out specifically that from 9am till 3pm what I saw was a complete peaceful rally from my walk about till I settled down near Menara Maybank. The only thing the government fear is the success of Bersih 3.0 where the 200K people came to sit in for 2hours and leave peacefully within any incident.

View pictures at http://ousel.blogspot.com/2012/05/428-bersih-30-we-allow-peaceful.html

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