Blogger Antares recalls a dramatic night near Amcorp Mall:
Had a brand new pack of six candles ready and an improvised windproof holder, but arriving at Amcorp Mall around 9:15pm, I saw no activity on the padang. People were gathered in front of the Mall and it was great to be greeted immediately by a few fellow bloggers who recognised me. That’s the nicest feature of physically attending these community events – every face you see, even if you haven’t been introduced, is already a friend.
Then Haris Ibrahim suddenly appeared and, this being our very first physical meeting, I just had to give him a big hug for inspiring so many with his gigantic spirit and outstanding mind. I got a call from a friend who said the cops forced her to turn back, so she decided to go home.
But she had been informed that a few other buddies were with RPK at a club further down the street – so I decided it would make my 3-hour commute to PJ worthwhile if I at least got to say hello to the national superhero in person. There he was, being interviewed by a couple of people with videocams and when he finished I gave him a very heartfelt hug. (I’ve only met RPK once before, briefly, in 1999 when he was coordinating the Keadilan website, but after I dropped a hint he did remember our meeting.)
Marina was there too and got only a quick hug from me because police patrol cars were cruising up and down and the crowd began walking slowly towards the PJ Civic Centre. Decided to WALK WITH RPK (literally) and when I got to the Civic Centre, the Red Helmets were already lined up and beating their shields to scare people.
Police sirens were wailing just for effect and it was so clear they had been instructed to intimidate and terrorise the peaceful rakyat gathered there because we all value democracy and love this nation too much to allow it to be turned into a pirates’ lair… I could sense the FRU guys pumping up their adrenaline… – and for a moment thought it would be wise to not linger.
But RPK was speaking under a cluster of yellow balloons and I moved closer to hear him describe what an emotional torture it is for some ISA detainees who don’t even get one visit from family in three months – because the families are too poor or live too far to make regular trips to Kamunting.
We felt a ripple of aggression emanating from the Red Helmets – some police officer must have received a call with instructions to nab a truckload of taxpayers just to show the rakyat you can’t mess with them…
A voice said, “Let’s sing Negara Ku before we disperse!” and with surprising sweetness and authentic sincerity, the national anthem was sung by the 250-plus gathered around RPK. Even as the last note rippled out through the PJ night, I heard batons banging on shields and knew the Red Helmets were about to charge. “Let’s split,” I said to my companion, “it’s rather inconvenient to spend the night in the copshop!” As we turned to walk away, what sounded like Orcs on the rampage reached our ears.
I turned around and saw the crowd being shoved around like waters in a lake being churned up by a descending helicopter. I remembered to blow out my candle so as not to draw unwanted attention and slipped between some large bushes and then back onto the path leading across the Civic Centre compound. I could hear loud yelling and the sound of batons smashing on shields (or heads, I couldn’t be sure and wasn’t inclined to turn around and find out).
We managed to get safely back to New Town and found a coffee-shop open – a few of my friend’s friends were already there. They, too, had been at the vigil and were outraged and shaken at the violent turn it had taken. Was it because Hamid Albar had suffered the humiliation of being ticked off by an honest judge for busing his power as home minister and bending the law to malicious political ends? No doubt the Usual Suspects were frothing at the mouth because RPK had the audacity to even exist – what more as a free man and evidently the most beloved, respected and celebrated citizen of Malaysia!
Within 15 minutes I was receiving SMSes filling in the details – DAP guys pulled in (heard that Tony Pua was roughed up), Angela also nabbed, Malaysiakini staff, about 20 more. One guy had apparently made a run for it but was chased by eight Red Helmets who knocked him down and pinned him to the ground…
What now, Malaysia? From Badawi to Mahathirville via Najibia? Or will the Sun break through the clouds signalling the New Dawn?
Blogger Chia Chin Yau shares with us his experience:
I was attending the AmCorp mall vigil with my wife. Reached there around 9:30pm, after wrestling with road blocks and looking for a car park.
We were told that the crowd had dispersed and we witnessed the FRU right at the entrance of the mall.
Then we decided to go ahead to the Civic Centre when we were told that everyone was moving there.
Met RPK along the way. He still look tired, but in better spirits.
We were talking with others who marched towards the Civic Centre, and most were expressing their anger with the authorities for trying to suppress our voices. Some were saying that we will give them a good lesson come GE13.
Deep in my heart, I know if we do not do it now, and continue mounting pressure, there will be no genuine GE13.
Reached the Civic Centre, greeted Marina, and the short ceremony begun.
Both of us were standing outside the crowd. We heard Tony say that if there had been no Bersih rally, he would probably not have been elected.
Then we started singing “Negara Ku”; when we were about to finish, the FRU charged at us.
It seemed that they had specific targets. I saw them chasing after a young Indian guy, and got him finally.
We quickly walked away as we were not able to help…. A few FRUs passed us by, but they did nothing to us. Some plainclothes, one Chinese plainclothes, was shouting at us and chasing us to leave the venue.
So now I know, our police force is used against orderly people, people who are seeking justice…