Photos by Ong and others
Here are a few more pics from the streets of KL as the Abolish ISA rally was drawing to a close.
The last two were taken this morning. Notice the FRU trucks at Bukit Jalil and the two teenagers, 16 and 13, in handcuffs.
Whatever your estimate of the turnout yesterday, this was easily the largest anti-ISA rally in Malaysian history. A couple of eye-witnesses told me it was bigger than the Bersih rally – which drew some 50,000 people – so that would put the turnout for yesterday’s rally at around 50,000 to 60,000 perhaps.
How times have changed over the last dozen years especially after reformasi was unleashed. In 1997 (before reformasi), a similar protest, held outside the Kamunting Detention Centre to mark the 10th anniversary of the Operation Lalang crackdown, drew only 200 people. Today, they come out in the thousands as more and more people become aware of how obnoxious the ISA is.
Najib and company are sadly mistaken if they think the people will be content with a “review” of the law. One minister even had the gall to suggest that the ISA acronym be changed to something else – as if that would pacify those who oppose the law. They just don’t get it, do they? Detention without a fair trial in open court is unjust – period. Even if they halve the initial interrogation/incommunicado detention period from 60 days to 30 days, there would still be a lot of potential for abuse, whether physical or mental. Ex-ISA detainees have said that some of the worst abuses occurred during the first few weeks of detention.
This was the result of a poll carried out on this blog in May:
The Sunday Star, the self-proclaimed people’s paper, studiously avoided any mention of the turnout at the pro-ISA rally. That’s not surprising because hardly anyone turned up for that one.
Some of those following the ‘live’ coverage on this blog yesterday accurately predicted how the mainstream media would report the rally in the papers today – the focus being on the chaos created, how businesses were hurt (actually coffee shops and other restaurants that were open did quite well) and the inconvenience to the public. It was all so predictable.
Much of this chaos could have been avoided if the police had facilitated the crowds and acted with restraint. Instead, Malaysia made global headlines for the wrong reasons. But then again, many around the world must have marvelled at the brave Malaysians who had peacefully come out in their thousands to express their revulsion over the ISA.