The Dandelions

.. the mutual admiration and bashing society.

An Account of 1st August, 2009 – ISA Demonstration

Posted by Cherubim on August 2, 2009

Cherubim was there. This is a witness account.

Like any other sane protester, Pewaris and GMI alike, all of us took the LRT. It’s kind of amusing to watch a bunch of middle-aged to elderly men wearing ketayaps and white T-shirts proclaiming their affiliations and riding the same train with black and red-clad folk to pretty much the same destinations, when we were supposed to oppose each other.  Along the way, I saw at least 50 blue-clad policemen and their tents, chilling at Masjid Jamek. Even around KL Sentral, I saw more policemen under a brige.

Okay, I thought. Paranoid, much?

At around 1:30pm Cherubim and her fellow protester walked to Istana Negara, but since it was too early we were blocked by a significant number of police and too small number of us. So we walked to SOGO instead. That was around 2:30pm (yes, we walked a lot) when we arrived at Pasar Minggu Jalan TAR. The usual crowd; kids, families, keropoks, air nenas, and oh, the odd FRU truck and police vehicles or two.

Make that a fully loaded water cannon vehicle, several trucks filled with FRU troops fully equipped with gear from SWAT (we girls thought it cool) and they were shooting not merely at us, but at innocent bystanders, patrons of pasar minggu and hawkerstalls alike!

I was lucky, when I was about to go onto Jalan TAR, in a bizarre Cloverfield like feel, I saw the water that was shot at the people in the main road, then I saw everyone running my way. Stunned, I stood aside and just stood beside an equally clueless tourist where we witnessed the police vehicles and policemen in a crowd of 20 or so coming in and grabbing any poor fellow wearing black, red and having anti-ISA emblems on their Ts. Mostly young Malay men tho.

After they were gone, we continued our chant and went on the main road, and heard a few shots of tear gas. I got my very first taste of the day.  My eyes burned, my face burned, my nose burned, my throat burned. Some children were crying. Some families were in fear. A friend handed me some salt, which I gratefully ate to remove the sting of the gas, and washed my face thoroughly. Like many others, we covered our noses and our mouths, but those things are stubborn, and made in Arizona USA. During the last BERSIH demonstrations, I heard tell the pellets were from Israel.

When that cooled down, we peeked outside and hung out in front of SOGO, watching the police watching us there. Me & my friends amused ourselves checking out whether any of the younger policemen are cute. Heck, we wanted to take pictures, but was declined the request. Anyways, we got hungry, a little pissed that Secret Recipe (and their delicious frosty ice lemon tea) was closed, and went to this nice little cafe across the street.

We ate happily, some PKR dude apparently belanja all us citizen journalists there, we chatted with the people from Malaysiakini and others.

That’s when it really happened. I don’t recall exactly how many times the FRU cannon truck went back and forth, but I do recall that during one of the lulls we saw several people carrying effigies and picket signs “Mansuhkan ISA”. Also, they were joined slowly by people who were taking refuge, though when we heard the siren and the sight of FRU troops going in we had good sense to return inside the cafe. There were children and families inside the cafe, some of the kids were hit with the tear gasses that was repeatedly shot by the FRU. People escaped through the back door.

Around what, 4pm or 5pm or so, the FRU decided to spray the corners of the ends at Jln TAR, pretty much near the old cinema (ground zero of 13th May, according to my dad, who was a young man then), and I thought it had some ironic implications. Violence seems to like Jalan TAR. I heard the voices of many, I couldn’t determine where, but there were first screams, then outraged outcry, probably Mansuhkan ISA again. Then I heard more tear gas pellet shots.

So, anyway, I was chilling nearby the police, thinking, this was highly excessive. The policemen was nice to me and my friends, we’re technically media, but I thought to myself, I know they are following orders not necessarily in line with their personal opinion, I saw some of them hesitate before aiming and shooting. During the whole event, Pertahanan Awam knocked on shopgrills asking whether anyone was hurt, evacuating the injured, watching out for civillians with a seriously worried and slightly angered look on their faces. What I cannot and will not remove out of the equation is this excessive force and collateral damage.

Look, we all know that on Saturdays, SOGO is a family oriented go to place, as I have all my life with my own parents, we know that most likely there’d be families, not demonstraters there. Plus, in my long involvement with this kinda thing, when the police doesn’t come, after chanting for an hour we all get tired and go to the mamak stalls to chill before going home after 2 hours max. Thanks to the police and especially FRU, we have sufficient warped entertainment for 5 hours to 6 hours. Wow, talk about efficient crowd control.

Again, Cherubim argue that the authorities (we all know who runs the cops) should have let the protesters be. Make sure they don’t hurt anyone, and bonk a few belligerant heads, and things would have been fine. What’s happening now is that even shopkeepers, hawkerstall owners, etc etc are getting pissed off at the gomen.  We each protect each other, blind for once to the idea of race and religion, but conscious of the idea of humanity. Otherwise apathic and apolitical folk are now getting more and more involved.

Well, more fodder for the 14th GE.

P.S = Waaaaah, so many police, meh? How come crime rate still so high?

17 Responses to “An Account of 1st August, 2009 – ISA Demonstration”

  1. Eric said

    I do not know about you, but GE13 will be fine. No patience to wait until GE14 already!

    Bravo Malaysians.
    Yesterday Malaysians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, both genders and all skin colours, walked together on a matter of national policy. This was simply beautiful.
    I was there. I saw black-clad Malaysian Chinese who shared light moments with tudung-clad Malaysian Malay ladies, brave Unit Amal members giving salt (against tear gas) to Hindraf supporters. That’s why BN is so enraged. Malaysians built history together yesterday, as they did in the Hartal and the PUTERA-AMCJA people’s constitution days. Malaysians have a history together, though it has been hidden to them for decades. They just proved they will build a future together!
    Hidup Malaysia!

    1 Black Malaysia. Democracy First. Elections Now.

  2. Antares said

    First we reclaim public space. Then we reclaim the nation. Umno/BN can go to hell where they belong.

  3. Latte said

    Love your account Cherubim. Brave of you to go there too. My views on politics are libertarian, so I’ve no patience for laws like the ISA. On the other hand, I view my personal safety too highly to go “make my voice heard”. I’m chickenshit. But what to do? I can’t run fast enough to get away from chemical tossing policemen and it would be nice to be free and alive to marry my sweetheart.

    You know? I’ve never really liked PAS, which is not surprising, considering my left-leaning, liberal views. But I’ve been pretty impressed by their Unit Amal’s work in this. They look out for others, which is more than I can say for some.

    I too, think that the police reaction was a bit excessive. I don’t say this because I support or anti-support anyone, but because the police reaction was uncalled for. Citizens of KL did not suffer hardship because some folks wanted to march on the streets; they suffered hardship because the police had to be seen to be doing their job (the roadblocks into the city the day before was a bit … meh. Does it actually stop people???). Is this KPI thing benefiting the rakyat, I wonder? Or is the term “overzealous” soon to be a buzzword in our sadly woeful English vocabulary?

    I chuckled at your p.s. It was funny, but in a not really funny way. I was asking myself the same question!

    I found your blog site via news.google, so congrats, people are reading it.

    Also, I’ve some stock photos of dandelions(took them myself). I’d like to make a donation. Just let me know your minimum requirements, if you’d like it. Ta!

  4. Crankster said

    Hi Cherubim, I was there too. At least I know I am one who dares to act, not merely talk.

  5. paul k said

    Firstly, let me say that this is just an opinion.

    For those who think that the demonstration is a human rights issue, please think again. Please see who the organizers of the rallies are. If politicians are involved, trust me – its a political game. Your sweat and tears are of no contribution to your cause.

    Malaysia is a beautiful country. Don’t change the democracy to DEMO CRAZY.

    Is this how you want your country’s democracy to be? Any group who is unhappy starts demostrating??? Then come and stay in Indonesia where this is a frequent happening. You can enjoy this lovely experience and come back to tell us all about it. No need to do it in beautiful Malaysia.

    One more thing, do these people think about the street vendors and businesses whose livelihood for the day is affected by the demonstrators. What human right cause are you supporting when you cannot even feel for these poor victims of the demonstrators? What about their rights? Will anyone carry out a fundraising campaign for their losses??

    I am shamed at the demonstration and on you guys who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    Democracy means the minority accepts the rule of the majority. Politics and laws should be left to the politicians in the political arena – not in the public arena. Please do not let innocent people suffer.

    If it was up to me, all the demonstrators should be charged in court for unlawful assembly and then be made to clean the streets where they demonstrate and pay the business people for their losses.

  6. sactyr said

    Quoting Paul K, “Democracy means the minority accepts the rule of the majority”.

    Really now? Last time I checked democracy means equal rights for everyone with no sense of minority or majority. And by rights I mean the right to vote, the right the freedom, the right to education and so forth. Also note that these rights are irrespective of race and religion and anything else that could be used to differentiate humans.

    Why are you bothered with who organises the rally? As long as the cause is worth fighting for, who cares about the organisers? If politicians are organising these rallies, then so be it. At least SOMEONE is fighting for one’s freedom!!

    And when you said vendors are loosing businesses, is that how you want to quantify the freedom suffered by ISA detainees? Go and read this piece by the 16 year old son of Mat Sah (whose wife is leading GMI):http://merdekareview-bm.blogspot.com/2009/07/testimoni-anak-seorang-tahanan-isa.html

    Then perhaps you can compare the agony suffered by a child whose dad is detained under ISA with vendors loosing their day’s business. Perhaps when one of these vendors are detained under the ISA “for their own protection” or “for threatening national security” then the just might realise the significance of all these protests.

  7. Netizen said

    Everyone would have suffered less (protesters, tourists, business people, etc.) if the rally had been allowed to run its course and if the police had guided the people and kept the peace between rallying groups. I heard that some protesters were actually hit with and cut by those canisters of tear gas. Shameful use of force on unarmed and peaceful people.

  8. barbie said

    Quote: One more thing, do these people think about the street vendors and businesses whose livelihood for the day is affected by the demonstrators. What human right cause are you supporting when you cannot even feel for these poor victims of the demonstrators? What about their rights? Will anyone carry out a fundraising campaign for their losses??

    Please tell, who shot tear gasses and water cannons against the demonstrators, the street vendors and business? Who invaded their rights to have business again? The demostrators or the government by ordering crackdown agains the supposely peaceful demonstrators?

    If the government allowed the demostration to carry on peacefully without excessive force and unnecessary interupption, these demonstrators would go to the city, had a cup of tea, perhaps something to chew.. then walked, delivered the memorandum, back to the city, had another cup of tea, went for shopping or sight seeing perhaps. The traders and businesses livelihood for the day would be much better if that was allowed to happen!

    Quote: I am shamed at the demonstration and on you guys who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    Democracy means the minority accepts the rule of the majority. Politics and laws should be left to the politicians in the political arena – not in the public arena. Please do not let innocent people suffer.

    What a twisted definition of democracy. What’s your take on Perak takeover by BN then? Is that your definition of democracy? The last I check, democracy means you have equal rights to things, (as mentioned by Sactyr above) whether you are the minority of majority. Do you mean that, just because majority prevails so the minority should just shut up? Minority will be majority one day provided the cause and time is right. Majority will lose its number when they stray from the good cause shared by many. And, these people marched to quash the ‘silent majority’ argument put forth by the ruling government. So speak up they did last Saturday.

    Innocent people. How about innocent ISA detainees? They are not innocent in your eyes? Because they are detained under ISA they must be terrorists? Prove that then.

    Quote: If it was up to me, all the demonstrators should be charged in court for unlawful assembly and then be made to clean the streets where they demonstrate and pay the business people for their losses.

    It’s good you are not the Minister in charge then, I’ll be forever grateful for that.

  9. mauryaII said

    If we had more dickhead morons like Paul K who is nothing but a BN sucker bent on polishing the balls of his masters, our beloved country would end up as another Zimbabwe!

    The indiscriminate use of the ISA by the UMNO/BN government is the only thing that is propping up this oppressive and corrupt regime.

    Oppressive and evil regimes may win some of the skirmishes. The PDRM is being used to win such battles against the demonstrations, but the final war will be won by the rakyat in the 13th GE. This sick BN has to go.

  10. kalai said

    democracy means minority accept majority?

    *clap!clap!clap!*

    better shut your mouth if you don’t know anything, Paul K.

  11. Calvin said

    Paul K.
    Myself really can’t find a reason to respect you!!!!

    Have you been there?
    Have you witness what is happening during the demostration?

    Seems like you are another xxx sitting in air-con room and start “singing for yourself”!
    Or perhaps you are still dreaming and don’t know what is going on in Malaysia nowaday!

    Now “their” newspaper direct published sensitive issues to against others Malaysian!!!!
    NOT ONE…BUT TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!
    …by the way…do you read newspaper??????

    So please tell us all Malaysian, can we keep on living peacefully?
    Why ISA never take action? Why government say nothing?

    Tell me, if this news come out from Chinese newspaper, what will going on? Hum?

    Keep your mouth shut – so that I can keep on treat you politely, thank you.

  12. Calvin said

    Some friends try to compare our ISA with USA security law.

    Tell you what, our ISA is a failure…compare with USA.

    First: USA security laws (direction) are totally different from our ISA.

    And they effectively tract down and prevent terrible attacks in USA country!

    But if we look back to Malaysia, WA LAU!!!!
    It is nothing but just a protection tool for …. you know lah!

    WHO WANT THIS KIND OF ISA?
    TELL ME, SO MANY CORRUPTION ISSUES (BEFORE 308), WHY MALAYSIAN CAN’T SEE ANY ACTION/MEMBERS BE JUDGE AND PUT IN JAIL?
    IF YES, HOW MANY CASES BEEN SETTLE?
    PLEASE TELL US ALL MALAYSIA!

  13. Choong said

    Dear My brave countrymen,

    I suggest you choose below venue for your next demo:

    1. Bukit Bintang area – just wanna see how the chinese businessmen reacts when their biz are distrupted.

    2. Stadium – do in stadium la. Shah Alam stadium is located in the PR governed states.

    3. Brickfields – just wanna see how the indian businessmen reacts when their biz are distrupted.

    I think demos are stupid…just see how Indonesia suffered. what happened to the brave countrymen…they got wiser and move on with their life. funny!

    Do it wisely la..u know we got elections etc that time elect la. why do u have to do demos. next time i think malaysia should learn from Thailand and see how they treat demo protestors baru padan muka!!!!

  14. That’s a nice post. Keep writing such stuff and I would like to visit this blog again. Some very useful information I needed.

  15. I studied this a little bit in college but it didn’t make sense until now. Thanks for the understandable and concise information!

  16. fray game said

    And by rights I mean the right to vote, the right the freedom, the right to education and so forth.

  17. erotyka said

    Aw, this was an extremely good post. Taking a
    few minutes and actual effort to create a top notch article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t seem to
    get anything done.

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