I have missed the BERSIH 2.0 because I was invited to a friend’s wedding in Penang on the very same day, 9th July 2011, the fateful day of 709..
This time around, on 28th April 2012, the BERSIH 3.0 rally is up again seeking for a fair and free election..And I know I cannot miss this 428 event..
It made me even more excited when I know my groups of friends who have kept silent all these while, have decided to join the rally as well..That’s when I know I’m not alone..
At about 12.15pm, we took LRT from Pandan Indah and got off at Plaza Rakyat station..The moment we stepped out of the train, the situation was very intensed as we saw much more people wearing the yellow and green shirt..
The crowd stretched from Masjid Jamek on Jalan Tun Perak all the way til Puduraya, that we haven’t not take into account the people at Central Market, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Parlimen, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, and Lynas people coming from KLCC, Jalan Ampang..
We started our journey on Jalan Pudu, walk passed Kotaraya and S & M then cut through the road to Leboh Pudu to Bangkok Bank..
It was a very rare occasion that the busy street at Jalan Pudu and Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock is all empty, only people walking on the road side..
We were on an empty Leboh Pudu walking to Central Market, one of the gathering points of BERSIH 3.0..
Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) was on standby to keep the situation in control..Unit Amal marshals (in maroon uniform) were there to assist the crowd before the leading man of that gathering point arrived..
It was around 12.45pm and my group proceeded to the Malaysian Bar Council (Majlis Peguam Malaysia) along Jalan Hang Kasturi..
Get ready with a very long post ahead..
The crowd in front of Malaysian Bar Council was warming up for the climax..They were chanting phrases like “Hidup Bersih!”, “Hidup Rakyat!”, and “Stop Lynas!”, among others..
The bridge connecting the other side of Jalan Raja has been blocked by the authorities with barbed/razor wires..
So we proceeded to Leboh Ampang via Medan Pasar..
Right on Medan Pasar we saw Karpal Singh resting in his car, greeted the crowd for a while, then it went off to the junction at Leboh Ampang connecting Jalan Tun Perak..
Right after we reached Leboh Ampang junction a group of policemen were on standby as if they were blocking the road coming from Medan Pasar..
I think Masjid Jamek was the main gathering point as people coming from Jalan Pudu, Jalan Raja Chulan and many other entrances..
The crowd stretched from Menara OCBC on Jalan Tun Perak all the way to Mydin, perhaps even til Puduraya..
It was around 1.15pm when we were right in front of Burger King..The crowd started to build up when we reached Masjid Jamek LRT Station..
A four-wheel drive car carrying a group of people, who I presumed should be part of the organizer team, led the crowd with chanting “Bersih-Hijau” phrases and singing songs with Bersih words, just to get the crowd into the mood..
The crowd was all under controlled, as shown in the photo above, all were smiling because in their mind, this is a peaceful gathering to seek for a fair and free election..Nothing more..
A police truck drove passby and with the help of Unit Amal marshals the crowd gave way, with some jeers and boos..
It was sunny and hot then it got a bit cloudy as if a downpour is coming its way..
When the ‘Azan’ was on loudspeaker for Zohor prayer, the organizer even told the crowd to sit down and remain silent to show respect to the Islam prayer..It was totally under control..
At about 2.20pm, the crowd was told to sit down by the organizer and gave some speeches..Their initial estimation of the turnout was to be about 120,000 people..
What I remembered was they said something along the line of “It is already a success for gathering this much people even though we couldn’t enter Dataran Merdeka”..
When you have this large of a crowd, it is difficult to control who come and go..Some people from the crowd were requesting to proceed to Dataran Merdeka because we have come this far, just few tens of meter shy from our location..
Along the road, there were volunteers picking up rubbish on the street to keep the street clean, as bersih as it is..Probably cleaner than before protesters were there..
As soon as the few leaders arrived Masjid Jamek, the crowd proceeded to march towards Dataran Merdeka..
In the video, can be seen on the car were Nurul Izzah, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Ambiga, and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim..That was about 2.40pm..
Then we reached at the traffic light junction of Jalan Tun Perak – Jala Raja cross junction..
I’ve marked our journey route on Google Maps, check it out HERE..
To be honest, this area is considered a frontline if you ask me..It’s not that I’m not afraid of getting arrested or put the tear gas and water cannon to test but the crowd was too packed that we weren’t able to get out of that zone anymore..
The crowd chanted “Buka! Buka! Buka!” with the leaders right in front of the barricade..
If you ask me, the organizers were never not trying to defy the court order BECAUSE they waved to the crowd and told us to bersurai (disperse) if I remembered correctly..
In my opinion, they are taking the safety of the rakyat into account, because there’s no need to defy the court order if it puts the rakyat into danger..
It was around 2.55pm, I saw a group of people, not sure whether some other leaders or the public, walking towards the barricade as if they wanted a negotiation with the PDRM..
Crowd was cheering as if the barricade is opened for public..I was still pretty confused with the situation, whether the barricade is still there or opened for us..
In just split second I saw few people running towards the Dataran Merdeka field..
At that moment I knew the people actually broke the barricade because few policemen were chasing a person or two who were already quite deep in the prohibited zone..
Some were breaking in from Jalan Parlimen and without warning, the water cannon is deployed with chemical-laced water being shot onto theose who were running into Dataran Merdeka..
It was then I realized it’s a bit too late..My friends and I tried to get to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR) to escape but some of them shouted “Jangan panik! Pergi depan!”..
At that moment I thought to myself that these fellas are too extreme..Although I’ve expected for the worst, of getting arrested, but to fight the authorities? No..
Yes I know, I’m not that heroic kind of person who would take on the FRU, tear gas and water cannon in the frontline..I tried to escape..
It was really too late when we saw the FRU carrying guns which I assumed to be the tear gas canister launchers..
It was about 3pm, the first wave of tear gas were fired into the crowd, with one got stuck on the LRT railway track..
The following video shows how chaotic it was with tens of thousands of people running away from the tear gas..
It was my very first taste of the tear gas..I had a painting gas mask on, it protected my nostril for a while but my eyes were affected..
Although I had the gas mask on, it didn’t help much because I had breathing difficulty after a while so I had to take it off, only to realize it’s a trap..
The gas went straight up to my nostrils and it affected my whole body..Stinging sensation on every part of my exposed body such as my hands and legs..
I was blinded for a while because it felt like my eyes were stung, too..I had to run into Jalan Melayu where most of the stalls were closed..
Washed my face with my mineral water, got whole lots of salt from good Samaritans who were distributing salts along the way, then apply them on my hands and legs..
It felt much better after that..The wonder of salt..
Almost everyone was helping each other especially the elder ones..Some had experienced BERSIH 1.0 and 2.0 so they tried to calm the crowd by telling us not to panic..
I sincerely salute and respect them for staying back and remained calm to help those in need despite the chaos..It’s not easy with all the stinging effect all over the body..
I was separated from my friends during the commotion so it’s all back to survival instinct..
The other end of Jalan Melayu is Masjid Jamek LRT Station, most of us tried to exit there but the people there waved at us telling us to back off, as if it’s not safe to go over there..
So we turned back..Those people on the Jalan TAR exit also waved at us to back off, as if it’s not safe to exit there as well..W were trapped in Jalan Melayu..
Then I saw Unit Amal marshals giving hand sign telling the crowd to escape not sure to the main road of Jalan TAR or the inner road of Masjid India..
When I was about to make my move, I saw policemen, about 10 of them, came running catching people..I wasn’t sure if they were catching the rowdy ones or catch whoever in sight..
So again, I was trapped in the stalls..Saw smokes the tear gas canisters on both ends made me think the authorities wanted to trap us in this road and catch all of us..There was no way to escape..
It was then I met Ruby and she was separated from her group..
It was about 3.25pm, some people gave instruction to move to the cliff of the Klang River..
That’s when I thought I would rather jump into the river than being caught by the police..The wall is about twice my height, maybe around 3-meters..
There were people below it helping those on top to escape by giving them a lift..That’s when I thought it wasn’t that bad after all..
Ruby and I went down the wall, helped some of the people to get down as well..
Down there we had a little talk with a guy, a stall operator on Jalan Melayu, not to do business, but to help the crowd in anyway he could..He was there for BERSIH 2.0 as well..
Now who said the rally would badly affect their businesses?
Then I thought we should make a move, by crossing the river..It’s a tough decision..
We had to climb up again to get to the railings as shown on the photo above to cross the river..
We managed to get across, but again we saw people running away from policemen..We were stuck again on the other side of the river..
An OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya – disabled person) was there alone, not sure if he was separated from his family or group..It was quite worrying and in split second he wandered off alone, not sure where he was heading to..
Ruby called his mom and later a bit the mom called back telling us she managed to contact his son and he’s safe..
At about 3.40pm, another round of tear gas is shot to the crowd on Jalan Melaka, where we were at..We hid in the Bank Mualamat ATM kiosk to avoid the tear gas..
*A tear gas canister, the size of a Milo can or slightly smaller*
At about 3.55pm, we walked off towards Jalan Gereja because we saw cars and buses passing by..So I guessed we should be safe, in the sense that the FRU won’t shoot tear gas towards vehicles..
Then Ruby and I took a rest at Jalan Hang Lekiu..A mamak shop is opened and lots of people buy drinks there..Very good business..
Who said you can’t do business when there’s a street rally or demonstration?
We rested til about 4.15pm, saw the crowd at Jalan Tun Perak shouting and running..So we thought it must be another wave of tear gas or water cannon was shot..
We left the place, heading towards Jalan Raja Chulan and rested at Menara Olympia for quite some time..
During that time, we heard numerous shoutings and sounds of tear gas canisters being fired..Not sure what happened at Jalan Tun Perak but it definitely wasn’t something good..
At about 5.15pm started walking along Jalan Raja Chulan then turned off at Hotel Istana to Jalan Bukit Bintang to go to Berjaya Times Square..
While we were walking I got lots of stares because I was wearing the BERSIH t-shirt and also a gas mask is hung on my neck..
Then we walked all the way to Hang Tuah LRT Station, thought of taking LRT back to Pandan Indah but the queues were very long..
That was around 6pm, Ruby and I were safe but we were not sure what’s the situation at Jalan Tun Perak..
This is the route I’ve marked on Google Maps to show how I escaped from the Klang River to Hang Tuah LRT Station, HERE..
More photos on my Facebook Album, HERE..
Based on my experience, I would say I’m glad that I joined the BERSIH 3.0 rally not because it was trendy or to create chaos but I stand up as a Malaysian to seek for fair and free election..
I can see how united Malaysians are, people of different races all came hand-in-hand for one aim, for one reason..
People of different races, different age group, all helped each other when others were in need..That’s the true spirit of being a Malaysian, not by shouting “1Malaysia” lots of times and you will be one..
Now I can say that I’ve taken the tear gas and it’s not something to be proud of, really..At least I stood up in a suppose democratic nation, have you?
I’m not saying that you MUST head down to the BERSIH 3.0 rally and take on the tear gas and water cannon to show that you love the country..
The tear gas and water cannon were uncalled for and it’s best to avoid..
What I’m trying to say is I exercise my right of democracy and whatever comes is unpredictable..
You think it’s fun to get teargassed? You think it’s fun to run around being chased by authorities? It’s not fun at all, but at least I stood up for the future..
I totally understand why the FRU decided to shoot the tear gas and deploy the water cannon because you cannot take chances..
Instead of taking chances, as the authorities, they had to prevent things before it goes out of control but there was no warning given..Things were getting out of hand..
I also wondered if the tear gas and water cannons were used to shoo the crowd away, or to attack and corner them so that they have no where to run, just like me, being cornered on Jalan Melayu..
This IMHO, the authorities shouldn’t blame the BERSIH 3.0 organizers or Opposition parties as well because we don’t know what kind of people we have in the crowd..
Some said it wouldn’t happened if BERSIH 3.0 is to be held in the given alternative venues and some said this tragedy wouldn’t happened if the Government had allowed the use of Dataran Merdeka..
It depends which side of a coin you are siding with..
After I got home, read all the news and views, watched all the videos from both sides, authorities and public/journalists, there’s always a dark side of something..
You see protesters assaulting authorities and police vehicles, and you also see authorities acting like hooligans beating people up even when they are restraint from moving..
Yes, everyone has different views and you have your own opinion as well..
IMHO, this BERSIH 3.0 rally not only a move to seek for fair and free election but also a kind of awareness to the nation, to the world that we should do our bits in order to achieve a better future..
For those who are eligible but have not registered as a voter, you would think a vote doesn’t make much difference..It doesn’t matter which party you vote for, it DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Think if a thousand people think like you, how is that 1,000 votes not a difference?
If you think voting will not change things, then stop complaining about our economy, our politics, our public transportations, our laws, because you are accepting the way it is..
If you want to change things, you have to vote, no matter who you vote for..
If you think the Government is doing a good job, show them your support!
If you think the Opposition will do a better job, vote for them and support them!
If the Opposition is lucky enough to form the Federal Government, let’s see what they are capable of..
This is democracy, we can change it in the next general election if they are not up to the task..This is how things should be kept in balance..
You can voice out your opinion but anything on personal attack you should keep it to yourself..
This is my experience at BERSIH 3.0 and I can say I’m proud to be Malaysian, but I’m sad to be one seeing how the situation goes..