We had a date on 1st August 2009. Did you turn up?
The STAR's headlined "Lockdown in the city" whilst Berita Harian says "Perhimpunan haram menyusahkan rakyat". A blogger posted "Kebebasan memerlukan keikhlasan dan tanggungjawab" whilst another says "Unit amal PAS - my heroes". It boils down to what you believe in and that's the way a healthy democracy should be...
However, before we proceed any further on the issue, allow me to say one thing - What can you say on the standards of our police when :-
- The police has blocked off the roads leading to Istana Negara;
- The police has their uniformed personnel, SBs', ununiformed personnel, federal reserve units manning all the major intersections surrounding Sogo, Central market, Dataran Merdeka, Istana Negara, Masjid Negara;
- The police has installed surveillance cameras on top of KTMB building across Masjid Negara;
- The police has few units of helicopters hovering above the crowd;
- The police has access to all these roads with their super bikes, patrol cars, trucks etc
Now, back to our posting. These are the observations whilst making my rounds on 1st August 2009 :-
- The crowd make full use of the available public transportation. Komuters, LRT, monorails are fully utilised by both the weekend crowd and the protesters;
- In KL old station, protesters streamed through the old KTMB building to access to Masjid Negara;
- In sentral market, some protesters were arrested and dump into police trucks;
- in Masjid Jame', protesters were ready to march towards Istana Negara;
- Across central market, Ibrahim Ali and 4 machais loiterred around, waiting for opportunity to do press conference. In short, Ibrahim Ali and his pro-ISA marchers has no support. A friendly ronin put their figure at 30;
- After meandering through Petaling street, managed to see a crowd of 50 or so anti-ISA protesters at Jalan Attap who are waiting for the bigger crowd to reach there;
- Due to the massive police clampdown, even a tortoise can overtake all those stranded cars and vehicles. Some motorists resort to parking their cars by the roadside and enjoy cold glasses of teh tariks and fried mees in the numerous stalls of Jalan Attap. One eldery Chinese man said "This is the last time I voted BN". When enquired why he make that statement, he lamented that he could not make his way home because his house is just a stone throw's away from Istana Negara;
- Another, a Malay family, expressed their displeasure of being given all the wrong traffic directions and they are out of towners who only remember 1 road to PJ - the federal highway. The head of the family said "There is a better way to handle the situation. The police should allow the march to proceed and to give the marchers one hour to hand their memorandum. This is the better solution than to lockdown the city";
- An aspiring actress of Indian origin said "The police did not give chance for the people to voice out their opinion. If only they are as efficient in handling crime then her mother will not be a victim of snatch theft near Ampang point.ait unti I am famous in Hollywood and the whole world will know what the police has done to us today";
- The roads? You have to be there to enjoy the police efficiency to convert all the major roads into a 1-day pedestrian mall! We walk gleefully in the middle of the road from Wisma Tun Sambanthan to Selangor Club! Just imagine, 3 of us (we can't go 4 in a group as that may be seen as an illegal gathering) walking the roads. A truly VVIP treatement of sorts...
- Selangor club? Some say that the crowd there packed 1 km long filling 12m wide road. Best guestimate? 30,000 minimum. When the police sandwiched them and start spraying cemical laced water, Selangor club is open to both members and non-members! Another history in the making. One elderly woman sprained her ankle and later left with her son;
- Another reliable source informed that the crowd in Sogo is 40,000 strong and I will not dismiss that as pure nonsense. It is just possible, truly a Malaysian crowd.
- The determination of the police to disperse the crowd is noteworthy. One helicopter reinforced the water cannons with approximately 10 boxes of chemicals, signed, sealed and delivered on Dataran Merdeka;
- The crowds? Yes, there were those from Utara who said they have accomplished what they came for and were on their way back to Sungei Buloh before returning home to Kedah that night;
- There were some from Johor who pointed to the cameras in the minarets of KTMB old building;
- Those from Kelantan came out of their respect towards Tok Guru Nik Aziz;
- All of them came, with one determination - to tell the government that ISA is wrong and outdated. It should be abolished...
Yes, freedom needs sincerity and responsibility. But sincerity and responsibility is not a game to play and voiced out. It must also be practise. Where is the government's sincerity and responsibility? Is it a lip service like a broken record, to be played once every 4 years during elections? Why not the government act one more word along with sincerity and responsibility - add the word humanity. Has the Government being humane enough to study the welfare of the ISA detainees? One Mat Shah has been in Kamunting for the past 8 years and on 1st August 2009, the police took in his wife and his son in and placed them in Cheras police station.
Overall, 1st August 2009 can be handled in a better and more peaceful manner. This is a memorandum to the King, the supreme leader of Malaysia. GMI has informed the government about their intention and they have also pointed out why they do not filed in their application. Publicly, GMI has make the announcement almost 6 weeks in advance. The least the government and the police could do is to allocate some time to close the roads in stages to allow for the march to take place. Give them 30 minutes to hand their memorandum and disperse. If the government has been closing the roads of Kuala Lumpur for Le Tours, why can't they do the same for GMI? Remember that they closed 4 hours for Le Tours, can't they close 30 minutes for 70,000 marchers who want to send their memorandum to the King?
The government will say that it is their rights to act on the protesters. The police will claim that it is their duty to ensure stablity and peace. But look at our crime rate - we are worse off now than what we were a year ago. We can't even protect the life of a witness in Shah Alam, we can't even ensure the safety of a suspect in police custody, we can't reduce snatch thefts etc. Are our police only good in crowd control and crowd dispersal? If yes, then by all means send our police to control the illegal immigrants who flooded our streets. Or are we, as they say "Jaguh kampung" who can only bully one of our own kind?
Finally, do not think that 70,000 is all that GMI is capable of. For every one that come out to join the anti-ISA, there will be 10 silent supporters of anti-ISA. Why? Because it is not easy for them to come out in the open when the issue is aimed against the government. This is different from those pro-ISA who are in line with the government where their leaders are seeking financial rewards from the government. Never mind that they do not have the crowd behind them, a contract of millions will do...
Think about what transpired on 1st August 2009. The people has send a message out - Abolish ISA. The organisers has been fair to ask the crowd to disperse as they have achieved their primary target - that people are fed up of ISA. The memorandum handing can be done later. The government heard that too, despite their public statements. The government and BN knows that it is time to bury the archaic law. If there should be one new act, it should take into consideration of sincerity, transperacy, humanity and responsibilty towards the nation as well as towards the person charged.
Najib said "Rakyat diutamakan, prestasi didahulukan". 1st August 2009 has prove that when the police has "utamakan" spraying the people with chemical-laced water and tear gases. Maybe, the next round, the police will turn the turrets towards Putrajaya. Afterall, Najib was seen sitting together with the crowd when celebrating his 100 day as PM - he too may want to taste the chemical laced water and walked through the clouds of tear gases...so please, give him a lifetime experience...can someone fulfill this wish?
: Najib, in most probably , "damage control" mode mentioned that the government is willing to offer venues like stadiums for the protesters. Few things did not seem right here :-
- The statement is made a day after the lockdown ie on 2nd August 2009 which in legal terms may be purely academic "what if situation";
- The aim of the protesters is to march to Istana Negara to hand over their memorandum to the king. If this scribe is to take the halfway solution, it will be the protesters gathering in Stadium Negara and Masjid Negara and allowed them (all the 70,000 of them) to use Jalan Belfield/Jalan Kg Atap to march to Istana Negara which is approximately 1 km away. The question to Najib - are you game for that? If you do, I trust GMI will be more than willing..
- If the aim is to give political talks, Selangor state government will be more than willing to offer their stadium. naib just don't get it..the rakyat want to present their memorandum to the King, the supreme ruler of Malaysia ie Najib's supreme rule too. If Najib cannot differentiate between politcal speeches and handing over memorandum...frankly I cry for Malaysia...;
- If the police were to take a soft approach yesterday, I am very sure that Unit Amal PAS can handle the situation...
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...