Saturday 28 April 2012 was another historic day in Malaysia. It was the day of Bersih 3.0.
The venue was Dataran Merdeka. A fitting place, Independence Square, where Malaya became independent. The government tried to move Bersih to one of the stadiums but this was not wanted. And just one day before, 27th, the Magistrate’s Court issued a court order barring Bersih 3.0 from the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka until May 1. The ban includes roads leading to the iconic landmark. As Teresa Kok (my MP) wrote, "What are the government so afraid of? Why can’t the rakyat gather and call for free and fair elections?".
Teresa also wrote "I regret to read the decision of the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, to ‘legitimise’ a police crackdown on tomorrow’s Bersih 3.0 rally. Given Hishamuddin had claimed only last week that Bersih 3.0 was not a threat to national security, why the sudden change of heart and policy on the public gathering? What has changed?
The Home Minister’s U-turn decision regarding the peaceful assembly planned this Saturday (28 April 2012), is symptomatic of the Malaysian government’s lack of respect towards its electorate and its high-handedness in dealing with dissenting views. This change of approach by the Home Minister is yet another case of flip-flop decision making, at the very last minute, by the Barisan Nasional government". See complete article.
On Saturday 28 I got to the area (by train) almost 2 hours before the event.
The Unit Amal (PAS Security Unity) were there to protect participants. They are disciplined, well mannered and trained volunteers. This years they were wearing dark red.
The atmosphere was great. I hung around Central Market area, then before 2pm, the official start, I moved to HSBC and the road leading to Dataran Merdeka. The police were blocking the road to traffic.
At 2pm the crowds sang the National Anthem. Soon after, thousands of people started walking from Central Market up towards Kota Raya. Everything that I saw was peaceful. Several people wanted to explain the event to me, at first not realising that I live here.
Dataran Merdeka was barricaded off, but the protestors broke through, and then the police retaliated with tear gas and water cannons. As usual this was soon picked up by Al Jazeera and BBC tv news.