KL’s biggest street party on Saturday was a riot. Well, not literally.
It was a peaceful show of all our frustrations. A demand for our rights and freedoms as citizens. And as humans born free.
The stupid pigs shutdown KL on Saturday, hoping in vain to stop the demo, so i decided to screw ’em by goin there by Friday night with Eddy, Ben, my bro, Sarge and Khang.
I pack my state and country flags, a face scarf, salt water, antacid (for tear gas), a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label, yellow balloons and water colours.
Managed to sightsee. And party.
Thankfully the Long Island pitchers at Reggae Bar didnt give us a hangover. We crash at a hole above the bar, and are up around 10am. I walk out to do a recce with ma man the Sarge. All the Chinatown traders are shut. Paranoid pricks.
The city is weird. It’s quiet. Too quiet.
There are no sounds of vehicles. The roads are deserted.
But i notice that the people who are around aren’t regular folk. I can usually spot the goddam protester-types.
They start to stream into Chinatown, mostly from the CM LRT station, as it’s a good access to the Merdeka Stadium, the rendezvous. I head towards the stadium, and see it’s still quiet. A couple of uncles / grandads who came from Klang tell us a group will march from the National Mosque. They too spent Friday nite in d city. I would bump into them again later, handing out first-aid medicine in the thick of the demo.
So we have brunch, then walk towards the National Mosque. Cops are crawling all over Central Market, blocking our route. So we hit the stadium. Pigs had sealed it off.
They’re all over the place. Police vehicles of all shapes and colours are out in force. Jeeps, patrol cars, patrol bikes, dirt bikes, equipment trucks, vans, personnel trucks, tow trucks, water cannons and helicopters. Fuckin stupid overkill.
I though the stadium belonged to the people. Not anymore.
We head back to Chinatown, and hear a roar from somewhere. Excitement and nerves are heightened.
We then see a group marching thru Chinatown from Central Market, and quickly join them. Before we knew it, we had taken the streets there. And it’s quite a party! We start to blow our balloons and throw them around.
According to calculations, the crowd at this spot is 31,800.
Dr Hatta Ramli (member of Parliament) is now on the hailer, giving a speech and inspiring the crowd. Dark clouds meant rain was coming soon, and it starts to drizzle.
Then suddenly, the riot police move in with chemical spray and tear gas. The crowd breaks into two, some towards Chinatown, some Pudu.
It was pandamonium. I guess there were many first-timers who panicked for no reason, and ran, stumbling on each other. Instead of walking away swiflty, they try to run into the crowd, creating more problems. Its best not to run if it’s a large crowd. You could cause a stampede.
We have to move away. Our eyes, noses, lungs, faces sting. My guys are scattered all over the place.
Khang has it bad. I spray antacid into his eyes n face, and we regroup on Jln Pudu, by Puduraya.
Man, what a fuckin rush.
Being the one with several demo experiences, i was sorta d team leader, and responsible for my crew. But occasionally, it’s every man for himself for a few seconds or minutes. So long as they have a buddy with them. Like the diving buddy system, your buddy looks out for u.
The showdown at Pudu –
We get gassed a few more times. Some guys manage to throw a few canisters back at the dogs.
I been involved in shit like this before, but the chemical from the tear gas, and water cannon especially was extremely strong. U didnt even have to be close to suffer the effects.
Khang, like many in this round, were CS-gas virgins. Not anymore.
We were right on ground zero now.
A Pak Cik walking past stares at us, then turns back to talk to us. He says “You people are really brave nowadays. Keep it up! We need to be brave!” I replied, “Yea, the previous generation weren’t brave, that’s why we’re in this mess.” He agrees, shakes all our hands and disappears into the crowd again.
There are thousands of us in this Pudu group. The pigs then approach from the other side. We are boxed in. And in this area, there are no roads or side streets to head to.
Shit dont look good.
They’re Police sirens wailing all over the city, Police helicopters buzzing all over the place, aroma of gas in the air, riot police all over the place and moving closer, dark skies, cops barking orders at us and at their comrades through loudhailers, a drizzle coming down… it was a surreal atmosphere.
It was appropriate, and we took it all in.
Then, to add to this scenario, it rains. Heavily. We didnt care. Nobody moves.
A guy shouts “Hujan bersih”
Funny thing is, altho i offered raincoats, nobody wanted any. I guess at times like these, such things dont matter.
I walk around into a side street and see a little garage with people in it. It seemed like an impromptu refuge station. There were people recovering from the gas, some lookin really bad, with others helping them.
Some looked shell-shocked.
Young, old, etc. A pak cik helping his wife, and comforting her, some students helping another, others cleaning their eyes. The rain continued to pour down.
I stood there for awhile, glancing at all the victims. It was quite an emotional scene. It got me thinking – why dahell does this have to come down to this shit? Why do the police treat its citizens this way?
After a coupla minutes watching d scene, I leave them and walk back out. And get soaked.
Some protesters sit on the road, and make a line facing the FRU. One lone guy sits way up front, between our line and the pig’s line, with his hands out, willing to be cuffed. Respect.
They get gassed of course. Arrests are made. We try to get out of this trap by heading to a church, but the back exit is closed.
The cops squeeze us in closer, so we’re forced into the grounds of Tung Shin Hospital. Cops start to move closer. People begin looking for a way out back. There’s none.
We’re stuck in the hospital grounds, with red helmets at the gates.
I knew there was an old back road, parallel to Jln Pudu. I manage to round up my team, and we get thru a fence to this escape route.
We pass a 90-year-old mansion built in 1919 where i threw a Halloween rave once. Haha. That’s how i knew of this route.
(I later saw a video of how about 50 cops shouted and charged into the hospital grounds where people were trapped, all carrying cuffs. They gassed the hospital first. Many got arrested. Men who formed a human chain around female students were assaulted.
My real big regret is i didnt go back there to help them via this escape route. I assumed they knew, coz it was d only visible exit. I guess they never thought d hospital wd be attacked, which is illegal even in a fuckin war!)
We bump into a group from Kg Baru goin the other way. We continue along Raja Chulan, planning to hit Chinatown again.
There’re several real huge groups that day. Besides Pudu, there were large posses in Jln Melaka / Masjid India, Sentral, KLCC, Central Market, Sogo, Chinatown, and Jln Hang Jebat.
A group that looked liked they’d seen action appear from Jln Ampang, also going the same direction, so we join in. It’s back to Chinatown. This time, we’re right at the front of a group that march and chant all d way to the stadium area.
It was intense. And powerful.
And from nowhere, the group gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. When i look back, it’s a sea of people!
It was amazing.
A great mix of all ethnic groups, united by the same desire. And a surprising mix of ages. There’re 80-year-olds, people in wheelchairs and one-legged guys with crutches. Lots of university students too.
I’d say females made up at least 20% of the people.
We gather at the stadium’s access road till our leaders said that we’ve done what we could, it was time to head to our homes. So we did.
And contrary to the goddam liar Malaysia’s chief of police, tear gas was fired all over KL, and not ‘strictly Pudu’ as he claimed. They gassed Central Market till it looked like it was a BBQ. As well as KLCC, Sentral, Masjid India and Merdeka Square.
There were some really brave souls, who stood in front of our lines, and made a solo stand against the police line.
Unfortunately there was one fatality. The first martyr in this quest against tyranny. All our respects to you, Pak Cik Baharuddin. We will ensure your death is not in vain.
There was some use of excessive force as well as police brutality during and even before the event.
We disperse at abt 4pm. Fuckin cops shut the CM and Sentral LRT, so we go on foot to Brickfields to get a cab.
This final ‘death march’ is difficult, and we move slow. We were on our feet since morning, being chased, drenched, gassed, with not much food or water. And we’re still wet from the rain. Our shoes are soggy and heavy.
We pass one of our attack vehicles.
By the time we walk to Sentral, our legs are almost dead.
And check out this great video, done within 24 hours of the event. Amazingly, all footage is from yesterday’s protest, including the police helicopter scene.
It was a great day for all of us. We made our opinions clear as day, that we dont take shit lying down. Well, maybe we’ll lie down much later.
In fact, i could this every week. It was quite a good shot of adrenalin for me. The nervousness, excitement and danger is awesome.
Now, not just this entire country knows about the problems with our elections.
It was shocking that despite headlines screaming “KL OFF LIMITS” and “STAY AWAY” (The Star a.k.a. UMNO Newsletter), all the road blocks, crazy threats, closing KL down, banning buses from other states, illegal arrests, hiring thugs, shutting down the rail system, and intimidating citizens, all these people still made it downtown. Salute!
The Star’s writer Baradan even said “It would indeed take a really determined person to run the gauntlet of restrictions and still make it to the stadium by 2pm, for a rally that is in great doubt considering all the police actions to stop it from taking place.”
Haha! Fuckyaalllll… You underestimate people power, dummy.
Estimates using satellite images and calculations put the number of people who made it at about 47,500.
The friendship and bond between total strangers that day were amazing. And this is the perfect example of how a peaceful march can be done, despite claims to the contrary and the artificially-created paranoia. Bravo to the organizers and all participants.
A friend decided he had to attend the event, so he bought a bicycle the same day n cycled in from PJ! U da man, Alet.
We stood up against the FULL government machinery and their weapons, including the distorted mainstream media. (Boycott here). If they think that gas and batons and punches can stop our will, they need to stop thinking. The people, united, will never be defeated.
The people have such great spirit. Power to the People!
The country belongs to the people, not the government.
Brain damage: Minimal. Tear gas wont kill your ass.
Damage to the government: Pretty damn good