Monday, July 11, 2011

Inilah Cerita Pengalaman Seorang Anak Bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Mahathir Yang Terlibat Dengan Perhimpunan BERSIH 2.0

My Bersih 2.0 Experience

By Marina Mahathir

So I went.

I have to say that the night before I had many many misgivings, especially after reading about the army doing exercises with the FRU. Could the government seriously be contemplating shooting their own people? Who knows? My stomach was in knots thinking about the many young people I knew who were intent on going, including my daughter. Would I be able to forgive myself if something happened to them?

After seeking advice from various friends, I finally decided that I could not stay safely at home while my daughter, friends and colleagues faced possible danger. I had to walk with them. Besides even if I stayed home, I would have spent all my time worrying. So I had to go.

A friend who lived in the city offered to be my protector and together we devised a plan on what to do. Hubby was supportive and gave some advice on how to stay safe. My neighbours also wanted to come along. So fairly earlyish, my friend drove over to get me with no problem and we headed back into the city. Despite the roadblocks in some areas, we encountered no problems. In fact driving into KL was so pleasant because the roads were so clear. The police directed traffic where they had to and were generally cooperative ( except for one we saw arguing with a man trying to get into his own condo). We got to a roadblock in the KLCC area and my friend explained that he lived in the area and they let us through, four people in a car dressed as if we were going hiking!

From my friend’s apartment block, we walked to Times Square and parked ourselves at the Starbucks for a coffee while we waited. A cursory look around the outlet and mall revealed that many people were doing the same thing. Meanwhile a whole van of police was stationed outside the mall but after a while they all went off.

We kept in touch with various friends around the city to find out where they were and what the situation was. At about 12.30 we started to walk up Jalan Hang Tuah towards the stadium area. We were not in big groups, just people out on a weekend stroll. We thought we would encounter police in front of the big police headquarters in front of Pudu Jail but there was nothing. When we got to the corner of Jalan Hang Jebat, we saw some police motorcycles and only a couple of cops. Lots of people were just sitting on the curbside under the eye of the cops. It was pretty clear what all these people were there for.

We walked along Jalan Hang Jebat in front of Stadium Negara towards the OCM and found many other friends waiting there. Apparently at one point the cops had given chase even though there was no reason to and caught some people and hauled them off. But from then on we could sit and wait by the curb without anyone disturbing us.

Jalan Hang Jebat and the small road that led up to Stadium Merdeka stayed pretty quiet. Members of the Bar Council (who had to suffer wearing their suits in the heat just so that we could spot them easily) walked around observing what was happening. At one point one woman in a suit sat herself at the intersection to take notes.

We all debated whether to stay there or move down to Petaling Street but we were afraid that we wouldn’t be let back up again. Then it started to rain. My friend and I sought shelter under some hoarding along with young people. Just then I got a message that we were to go to KL Sentral. After confirming this with a friend at Sentral, my friends and I started to walk down Hang Jebat just as a large group of people started walking up. The rain was pouring at that point and I didn’t know quite what to do, whether to tell people they should turn round or not.

Seeking shelter for a while under a shop five-foot way, I talked to various other friends and eventually decided to head back to the stadium area where I found my daughter and lots of other friends there. The main group earlier had gone up to Stadium Merdeka, did some chanting in front of the FRU and then headed down again. But many people hung about just to observe everything and soak in the atmosphere. One group of young people had yellow ribbons on sticks and started a little dance. Others were buying ice cream from a bicycle vendor who came by. There was a real carnival atmosphere.

I have to say that I never felt safer than when I was in the crowd. People recognized me and said hello. Some wanted to take photos. It didn’t feel any different from any other Saturday out. And to be perfectly fair, the cops and FRU in my area showed admirable restraint. They saw that people were not doing anything more than chanting and nobody was harming anyone so they just stood there and left everyone to do their thing. We came across a whole FRU unit blocking a lane next to the Chinese temple at the roundabout at the bottom of Jalan Maharajalela, waved at them and they waved. Cool cops!

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