Photos and report by [email protected]
We take off from University Malaya Medical Centre, at about 2.15pm.
1430: Embedded with the ‘Barisan Rakyat’ group, we are to meet at Puchong before proceeding to the burial ground. A convoy of about 10 cars makes it way. Word has it that there are about a thousand people near the Taipan Subang police station but no way of confirming it. A helicopter is hovering above.
1530: We arrive at the main T-junction towards the burial ground, which is about a kilometre away. Many people are gathering there and a couple of policemen are visible. The sense of anticipation mounts. Groups of people gather to talk about the day’s news. It is strangely quiet though. The scorching sun is drenching us with sweat.
1645: Just got into position; suddenly everyone is gathering as one big group near the main T-junction. No police or FRU personnel are following the procession, which is the only way into the temple.
As the procession comes into view, I cannot make out where Kugan’s coffin is. Perhaps it is in one of the cars. The crowd is large: people, motobikes, and more people. From this point, I reckon we are a kilometre away from the temple. Suddenly, my gaze is transfixed onto a group of people carrying a coffin. They are actually walking in! Never thought I would experience anything like this.
1656: We are just 10 minutes from the main junction. And then the weather changes. The rain catches us by surprise. I tell you, it’s not just the usual rain we experience: this one is pelting down. Within minutes, I am drenched. I don’t mind getting wet, but I had to tumpang someone’s umbrella ‘cos of my camcorder.
It’s a new experience for me and my umbrella partner. Everyone who walks past us can’t help but flash us a thumb’s up sign for coming. Why? Because, both of us stand out! We are Chinese, surrounded by Indians. We feel like part of a big family of hundreds, perhaps thousands, on this day. A friend of mine gets a lift from a motorcyclist and as he passes me, he shouts out my name and grins from ear to ear. We didn’t realise we would have to walk this far, braving the elements, but it is worth it.
1712: The procession ends at the temple for prayers and Kugan’s coffin is finally laid to rest. Behind all the chanting, wailing and prayers, an irritating sound is heard. Yes, it’s that out-of-place clattering helicopter. It’s not neccesary for this chopper to continually irritate the peaceful crowd since morning.
Family stricken with grief
1745: Kugan’s parents return to the temple from the burial ground. His mother appears grief-stricken. His father gazes into my camera lens as if to ask, “Where is the murderer? Have you got him yet?” It is a powerful, haunting image. Not sure who the other lady is, but she is weeping uncontrollably.
Another young man is standing next to me, filled with tears and anger. He throws down his cigarette in disgust and walks away in resignation. I can’t take it either. I quickly turn away.
Several people are now being interviewed by the media. Lawyer Gobind appears visibly moved and demands answers from you-know-who. No one has reportedly been apprehended so far for Kugan’s barbaric murder. The injustice remains unresolved.
A sign of hope that justice will be served
We finally leave the place, although many are still walking in. I am so engrossed with the walk that I don’t realise the rain has stopped. The sky clears and as I look up, I snap a picture of a fine white cloud suddenly forming as if to say, “Hold on to me; tomorrow will be better and justice will be delivered.”
I sincerely pray and hope it will.