A Walk About in Kuala Lumpur on 9 July 2011 -Bersih 2.0 Day

Saturday, July 9th 2011

This was a potentially a historic day in the annals of Malaysian history. I was going into the streets of Kuala Lumpur to join the Bersih 2.0 rally .
At 9.00 am I had a missed call from Hassan , a friend from Melaka . I already knew what the call was about . Hassan was already somewhere  in the street of Kuala Lumpur , waiting for me to link up with him . He came all the way down from Melaka by train this morning .

Then I called another friend , Habib , enquiring of his whereabouts . He told me he was having  breakfast in Jalan Pudu  , having put up a night in a hotel  on Jalan Pudu with several of his friends. He entered KL a day earlier to escape the police roadblocks around KL .

As for me , at 10.30 am , I was going to board the LRT train at Sri Rampai station , a ten minutes drive from my home in Bkt Antarabangsa. My destination the Pasar Seni station in the heart of KL

10.40 The train departed from Sri Rampai station . I was travelling alone. The train was not packed with passengers as normally the case on Saturdays . I looked at the other passengers , trying to read from their faces whether they too , were going to the Bersih 2.0 rally. Their faces were mostly blank. Nobody wanted to give anything away.

11.20 I arrived at Pasar Seni station . I saw mainly youths ,  some standing and some sitting outside the station . Most of them carried bags , strapped to their backs. By the look , these guys were definitely lingering up for the bersih 2.0 rally to start.

I walked a short distance to the famous Petaling Street .  Only a few stalls were open . Businesses were mostly closed for the day , I guessed due to Bersih 2.0 .

Already I could see people mostly the young streaming in , the majority of them were Chinese ,  initially in small  numbers.

People streaming into Petaling St.

I met up with Hassan in who came with his wife and sister in law at Petaling St . Remember he came all the way from Melaka.

My Friend Hassan (in yellow shirt)

I saw a man selling shirts for RM 10 each . One in particular caught my eye. So I bought one , a yellow Selangor Football shirt . After buying it ,I immediately tucked it into Hassan’s bag for safe keeping , because I didn’t want the police to find me in possession of a yellow shirt much less wearing it  . What about Hassan in possession of my yellow shirt? Will it do any harm to him? No harm done , since he already wore one  . Besides he was a veteran Bersih 1.0 .

For the record, you could be arrested for wearing anything yellow . The police had gone barmy about anything yellow.

The streets were mainly empty , no traffic at all  because all roads leading to Stadium Merdeka were closed by the police. By around 12.00 pm even the LRT stations were closed from KLCC to KL Central , so I heard from Hassan who spoke to a friend on the phone.

Empty Street

By this time the police were already out in numbers . Practically every street corner had  police with trucks stationed at it  .

I thought this must be the safest day in KL  ever because of the huge police presence.

Heavy police presence on Jalan Hang Kasturi but the street was empty

Police barricade on the road to Stadium Merdeka  with barb wires , close to  Shan See Shu Yuen temple

By the look of things , there was no way a rally or a protest march could take place here , today. The Merdeka stadium where the Bersih rally was supposed to take place, was virtually sealed off. All entry points were closed off like the one in the pic above. I milled around with a crowd of 100 people or so at the  police barricade , not really knowing exactly where to go from here.

1.30 pm . The muazzin called for Zohr prayer . I walked a short distance to the Masjid Negara . To my surprise the masjid was closed by the police , who stood at the entrance and prevented everybody from entering the compound. I somehow managed to sneak into the mosque . But others had to perform their zohr prayer outside the mosque.

Three people doing Zohr prayer under overpass near the Masjid Negara

Soon there was a heavy rain which lasted for half an hour or so. I stayed under the overpass until the rain stopped , then went back in the direction of Petaling Street.

3.00 pm . I joined a crowd of  hundreds marching on Jalan Hang Kasturi  singing the national anthem , close to Klang Bus Stand  and LRT Pasar Seni station. Our march was halted by the FRUs shelling tear gas cannisters at us from a distance of more than a hundred metres. I had to run for cover but in the process inhaled some gas , felt the sting of tear gas in my eyes . I felt suffocated for a minute or two . I recovered quickly after taking a pinch of salt in mouth . The salt cure was amazing. By this time I was already separated from Hassan .

In the melee , nobody among the marchers were hurt save for teary eyes and mild suffocation . I managed to record a video footage of the action on my little camera. That was done while trying to dodge the tear gas bombs. You can watch the video below.

We took refuge under the LRT station building while the FRUs kept firing away gas cannisters at us . Soon the police overan our position and they took over the LRT station . That was it . We had to disperse , some ran up into  LRT station to escape the police , some simply ran as far away from the police as they could.

4.00 pm. I decided I could not stick around the area anymore. So I tried to find  my way home. My first destination was to Masjid Jamek LRT station . When I got there I found it was closed . I crossed the road to Masjid Jami’ for my Asr prayer but its gates were   locked.

Then I walked to Dang Wangi station , only to find that it was also closed . I continued all the way to KLCC . Along the way I could see that several FRUs were still standing guard at the intersection of Jln PRamlee-Jln Pinang , and the red FRU trucks lining the street . I also saw several FRUs on horsebacks close to KLCC. Red helmets, blue uniforms, on horsebacks .What a  sight.

FRUs on horsebacks

Finally I got to KLCC  at around 5.30 pm . I was told that the LRT station was closed and it won’t be open until 6.00 pm . I made my way to KLCC Mosque and  found it open .Finally. And  Alhamdulillah.

Calm after the storm at KLCC Mosque

p.s: That was me in Selangor yellow (and red) jersey

Finally at 6.30 pm , I took a LRT train back to Sri Rampai and reached home at half past seven , all in one piece much to the relief of my wife and children.Alhamdulillah . But what a day that was. The day certainly  belonged to BERSIH 2.0

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