Tuesday, May 1, 2012

BERSIH3.0 - the JB Experience

I almost didn't go as I had a slight back-ache and the thought of having to run from tear gas did not appeal to me. Luckily a friend offered me a ride and in a way, that committed me to go. Earlier I read reports that MBJB had denied the use of the Dataran JB and that there was a misleading bit of into that the venue had been shifted to Larkin Stadium. Someone had posted info on what to do if detained etc and also how to reduce the effects of a tear gas attack. So I took the necessary items like some salt, extra bottled water, a wet cloth and swimming goggles. I had an early lunch and the drove to Taman Sentosa, the rendezvous place and waited for my friend to show up. There were 5 of us going for the rally and the driver dropped us at an overhead bridge near Jalan Sungei Chat, one of the side roads bordering the Dataran JB. It was quite an energetic crowd gathering, mostly younger Malaysians and the chants of "Bersih, Bersih" filled the air. Many passing motorists also hooted to show their support. There were traffic police and the normal mata-mata about, with the MBJB enforcement officers all around the planned venue; perhaps a total of 200. There was a football tournament taking place at the Dataran JB and it looked like a subtle plan by the authorities to frustrate the BERSIH gathering.The crowd was good-natured with an air of festivity that infected everyone. At about 2pm we were told to move towards DJB and it was an orderly march. The local BERSIH leaders had persuaded the authorities to allow the Dudok Bantah to be held at the left space near the clock tower....this was a good outcome as the place is nicely shaded. I moved to a spot under a large tree towards the back and made myself comfortable....sitting on the ground and then getting up was a challenge with my bad back and I usually don't sit on the floor! That is why I chose a spot near a metal pole as a prop. So from about 2:30pm to 4pm most of us sat and there were many chants of "Bersih, Bersih!" interspersed with some speeches. Please watch the video that shows the event and also a few interesting interviews of folks who came for the rally.