Poised to strike: FRU personnel glare menacingly from outside at the rakyat gathered inside the lobby of Amcorp Mall
Threat to security?: Haris briefs the rakyat that lighted candles may be viewed by some as a “WMD”! (Pictures by blog reader Michael).
The rakyat refused to back down despite the intimidation (Picture by blogger Jarod. More pictures and report at his blog here.)
There are two vigils today at 8.00pm in Ipoh and 9.30pm in PJ. Live updates with Rakyat@Work reporting from Ipoh and other sources in and around Amcorp Mall in PJ:
This is a sad night for peace-loving, justice-loving rakyat after 23 people were detained when police charged into a peaceful crowd in PJ. But love conquers hatred and violence; justice will triumph over oppression. By attacking a peaceful crowd and detaining justice-loving Malaysians, the authorities have further undermined whatever moral authority they had.
2354: Eye-witness and blog reader Paradiz recalls what happened:
My wife and I were there tonight, the FRU charged at us as the Negara Ku was being sung. They were waving their batons threateningly and shouting for us to disperse. I think they were itching to start beating people up.
We had no choice but to run although some did not. After scattering, we went back into the park and were shouted at by the FRU to disperse. That was when we saw some plainclothes cops chasing a few of the people in yellow Bersih and black and red “Free RPK” T-shirts.
Blog reader Ben reports:
RPK and Marina are safe. I saw them walking towards Shah Motel at about 10.20pm. The commotion was at the MBPJ park.
The Centre for Independent Journalism has issued a press statement condemning the police action:
CIJ calls on the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan to free those arrested and explain the use of the riot police in controlling the crowd, which had planned for a peaceful gathering. The continuous use of force against people expressing their views on issues such as the need for free and fair elections and abolishing the ISA is a demonstration of the intolerance for public criticism of the status quo.
2349: Eaglewings reflects on the recent vigils:
For the past four weeks, we had such peaceful vigils. With no police presence, everyone left peacefully and took back a little something with them in their hearts. We made new friends, sang songs together but we were there for only one reason: “Give those detained under the ISA their rights back”.
Today, with police presence, just look at the commotion. Isn’t it obvious? Have they forgotten that they have to protect the rakyat and not attack the rakyat? Until we get rid of this Home Minister, the story continues….
2348: Detained MBPJ city councillor Ms Tiew Way Keng has sent an SMS to her fellow councillor:
23 arrested. Tony, Ronnie, Weng San, I and others.
2341: Blog reader Eric reports again:
My wife saw RPK being ushered/hurried away by a green-stripes collar shirt man. Hope RPK is not caught.
2340: People are just so upset. Among them is blog reader Desmond who was at the scene:
I was there at the Civic Centre garden, we were singing the Negara Ku and the FRU charged at us, banging their shields and shouting angrily at us and ordering us to disperse. It was barbaric and uncalled for. We will not be intimidated by their brute force and will continue our fight for a better tomorrow.
2336: It appears that police could have been targeting some of those wearing the Bersih and RPK T-shirts, says another contact at the police station. “We have started lighting candles. The speaker just now was Gobind Singh. Lim Kit Siang has just turned up.”
2326: A press conference is being held outside the police station. It appears there could have been a few more arrests.
2316: About a hundred people have gathered at the PJ police headquarters. Apparently, police have now started blocking roads leading to the station. Among those arrested is believed to be Rev Fr Paulino Miranda, the parish priest of the Church of the Divine Mercy in Shah Alam.
Eye-witness Eric reports:
My wife saw the plain-clothes police taking away a few women and small-built persons (could be teenagers). The police also dragged a man on the floor for 10 feet while heading to the Black Maria.
2311: MBPJ councillor Ms Tiew Way Keng is among those arrested, a fellow councillor in MBPJ tells me. If you know of any other person who was arrested, do let us know.
2306: Lis who was at the scene earlier tonight is shocked:
So upset! So upset! I was there at the Taman Jaya station car park, but didn’t go to the mall when I was told by a family that the people had dispersed.
I left the place as I was alone. I didn’t know so many things had happened until I got home to read all the internet postings!
Another sad day! Why the arrests? What did they do?
2301: Malaysiakini reports that their videographer Shukri Mohamad has also been arrested. I hope someone has video footage of the police charge. Malaysiakini adds in its report:
Eyewitnesses said that Pua was physically manhandled and thrown into a waiting Black Maria. The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre.
Those arrested have been taken to the PJ police station. A small group of people have gathered there in solidarity. A team of police anti-riot squad is also on standby.
2254: Blog reader Eric reports:
Tony Pua and Lau Weng San have been nabbed. I was there; my friend got caught too. They are waiting in the Black Maria.
2253: About 20 people are believed to have been detained including MPs Tony Pua, Adun Lau Weng San, blogger Ariff Abdul and a town councillor.
MPs Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, Charles Santiago and Teresa Kok have now arrived at the scene.
2246: “One of my friends was apprehended,” says Rakyat@Work.
2225: My other source reports: “We gathered at the Civic Centre garden open space. Tony Pua gave a short talk followed by RPK and we ended by singing Negaraku. At that point, the line of FRU personnel started moving towards us, knocking their shields and shouting in a threatening manner and they walked through the crowd – at which point we had to open up the crowd as they moved towards the core of the crowd. We broke up and there was some scuffling and there was some chasing.
“So at this point we don’t know what happened to RPK and the other three MPs, Ronnie Liu, Tony Pua and Lau Weng San. At this moment, the crowd has dispersed having run helter skelter. The police are still there shouting at some of the crowd still lingering there.”
I can hear sirens wailing in the background. Are we witnessing the return of the worst intolerance for dissent reminiscent of the Mahathir era?
2220: Police, FRU and SB charge at the crowd as they are trying to walk to the road outside Civic Centre. “Personally, I saw about seven people being detained,” says my source. The police appeared upset as RPK was speaking.
“They are running after someone now. Oh God, I see about six or seven police trying to drag a guy in yellow shirt who is resisting. They are taking him away now. I would imagine more than ten have been taken by now.”
2203: Some of the crowd are now at the A&W awaiting the arrival of the Bersih group.
2200: Well, well, well, I spoke too soon again. It’s not quite over. A section of the rakyat is now heading for the Civic Centre, about 15 minutes walk from Amcorp Mall. Among the crowd are RPK and Ronnie Liu. The police are probably aware and will no doubt be meeting them there again!
2154: Earlier tonight, Zorro spoke in Ipoh and congratulated the people there for coming out to call for the abolition of the ISA. The event there was well-organised with tents erected, banners and audio equipment. Syabas, Ipoh!
2157: “They are still not satisfied with my release,” says RPK over the phone, as I welcomed him back to freedom. “I think they want to re-detain me. Anyway, I have just posted something on the Malaysia Today website.”
2149: A big thank you to our brave god-sent “angels” – Rakyat@Work and other sources – hovering at the scene, taking note of everything and providing us with live reports tonight.
2135: It’s all over. About 300 of the rakyat re-group at the lobby of Amcorp Mall; Haris leads the group in singing Negaraku, and then the crowd disperses peacefully. They have made their point loud and clear. They want the ISA to go. Mansuhkan ISA!
2118: The vigil in Ipoh ends without incident. It’s an unqualified success. But tonight the spotlight is trained at Amcorp Mall in PJ.
2106: Lim Kit Siang addresses the crowd in Ipoh. “Stand up for your rights!” he exhorts them. Other speakers include Sivarasah and Zorro. About a dozen police personnel are watching from a distance.
2105: Over in Ipoh, Rakyat@Work arrives at the venue and is surprised to find a larger than expected crowd. “Wow, turnout of 350 people!”
2104: Organisers inside the mall have told the rakyat to go shopping(!) until 9.30pm, reports my contact at the scene, and then they will decide what to do. “The police are still outside; they have not come in,” he says.
2054: About 20 FRU personnel are outside the Mall, while 200 of the rakyat are inside the Mall in the lobby area. The rakyat are barely 30 feet away from the FRU outside. “As long as the FRU do not advance on us, we are safe,” says my contact in the lobby. But the FRU personnel appear to be armed with tear gas cannisters.
2048: He spoke too soon. The FRU are forming a line; someone shouts “Mansuhkan ISA!” and that prompts the FRU to move forward. “The FRU are advancing now and people are retreating to Amcorp Mall,” reports my contact at the scene. There are a few yellow-shirted Bersih people around now.
2046: The police have once again asked the crowd to disperse or face the consequences. Haris has addressed the crowd, telling them he leaves it up to them. They can remain there or walk around in groups of four. People are not quite sure what to do. “For the moment, it is still peaceful,” says my contact. Bersih-affiliated MPs are expected to arrive at 9.00pm.
2035: The crowd has moved away from the field. There are now about 200 people in the area with another one or two dozen blue-uniformed cops including senior officers. My contact tells me there is bit of a stand-off but it’s not confrontational. Police have been cordial in advising the crowd to disperse. Tony Pua and Haris arrive at the scene.
Meanwhile, Rakyat@Work is nearing the venue of the Ipoh vigil.
2022: Police have asked the crowd near Amcorp Mall to disperse. There is no one on the field now.
2010: An eye-witness reports that close to a hundred people are now at the padang near Amcorp Mall. They are just milling around; nothing has started. The talk is that the proceedings will begin at 9.00pm. All roads to the venue are still blocked.
2005: From what I hear, the Bersih group are now trying to think of an alternative location. They were supposed to have gathered near Amcorp Mall at 9.30pm after the 8.00pm Abolish ISA vigil, but that’s not looking possible now.
1940: My contact in PJ has been circling around, trying to get to the venue, but all four entry points into Amcorp Mall are blocked by traffic police.
1928: Federal Highway from Jalan Utara is blocked. Police are said to be present around Padang Timor near Amcorp Mall. They are obviously not taking any chances, even though it is unlikely the Bersih folks would have managed to get a big crowd this time.
1909: The road blocks near Amcorp Mall could be because the Bersih coalition (campaigning for electoral reforms) is expected to join the Abolish ISA group.
Meanwhile, Rakyat@Work is now in Taiping, heading to Ipoh.
1857: It looks as if roads are blocked in all directions heading towards Amcorp Mall and even A&W.
1852: We are getting reports of a road block heading to Amcorp Mall.