What do you call it when tear gas is fired into a tightly packed crowd with little room to manoeuvre – and when people try and move away, more tear gas is fired, even in areas farther away from Dataran?
According to rally participants, the crowd was so densely packed that it wasn’t easy to move around.
The chances of any disorder breaking out would have been minimal if they had been allowed to use Dataran. Witness the scores of peaceful solidarity gatherings held in cities and towns in Malaysia and abroad.
The KL turnout, estimated at some 200000, was perhaps the biggest display of people power in Malaysian history. The political tremors could be felt across the length and breadth of the land, from the corridors of power in Putrajaya all the way to the banana fritter warongs of Sabah and Sarawak.
Public awareness of the rot in the system has grown since 2008. If the turnout, along with the sheer diversity of the crowd and the notable presence of the young, is any indication, then a new Malaysia is bubbling beneath the surface, raising hopes for a new era of democracy, social justice, accountability, environmental consciousness and inclusiveness.