Friday 15 July 2011

The standoff at Puduraya and Tung Shin Hospital

If I were to tell you my experience that day from A to Z, it would take up half of your day! So, I will only tell you about the stand off we had with the authorities at Puduraya and Tung Shin Hospital.

After walking along the little lanes off Masjid Jamek, we heard the voices of hundreds of people coming from Chinatown, around noon.

Seeing all my brothers and sisters walking and chanting together just a few metres away, I found the courage to take of my jacket and Queen T-shirt to reveal the Bersih T-shirt I was also wearing.

NONEThe scene was very peaceful, people had flowers, balloons and a young lady was giving out self-made Bersih stickers.

We walked to the Jalan Pudu crossroad and stopped for a while.

There already was a big group of people there.

We waited a little more and I was amazed to see another big group of people joining us.

I was constantly texting a fellow dancer, my mother's best friend's husband and a PSM member, checking on what was happening at his end. They were all at different places.

I thought to myself, the crowd at Pudu was already big enough, but there are other crowds all over KL. Wow! The biggest rally I've attended was my first, the 2009 anti-ISA rally and the numbers were no where near this!

Right in front of us, we could see the FRU waiting, a few metres away from Tung Shin Hospital. Once everybody got together, we walked towards the Puduraya bus station.

When we got there, we stopped for a while, we chanted, we sang the Negaraku. There were people shouting "Patriot! Mereka datang!".

The Reds (I refuse to call them patriots!) were there, but we had the numbers and it made them turn back.

rally proceeds to Pudu IPK police cordonA few minutes later, we had to turn back because the FRU had come too close.

We barely walked a few metres, we were stopped again. Dang!

The police had cornered us! We were now caught in the middle, with nowhere to go.

Then came the order for us to sit down peacefully. (I found out last night, from Marina Mahathir's blog, that it was the police who had given that order, probably to make it easier for us to be victims).

We waited for the next order to be given. I thought that nothing bad would happen as the police would not dare harm us because we were clearly a peaceful group of protesters. Boy, was I extremely wrong.

Three or four times (I can't remember exactly how many times, for I was just too hyped up), they fired just enough of those gas canisters to make us run.

There was also this helicopter, which came down very low to spread the gas all over us. Strangely, after every little attack, rain would come, in drizzles.

Then came the last attack, in front of the bus station, the one that was so big that we had to run for our lives. I ran to the side, where the shops were, for cover.

The gas was too thick. Breathing became extremely difficult. I couldn't open my eyes, and my mouth right up to inside my chest was burning.

My body was defending itself, saliva started accumulating in my mouth and mucus in my nose. I didn't know what to do!

I could hear people spitting and blowing their noses, I did the same, and it helped a little. We were all suffocating at that point and I could feel my body going down.

A woman from the back shouted out to me, "Get up! Don't drop!" I then felt someone pressing on the back of my shoulders and another held me on my arm to get me going on my feet. Somebody gave me salt water and asked me to drink up.

What amazed me is that nobody could see at all, but we knew what was happening around us and everybody was helping one another. I must thank all my Malaysian brothers and sisters for that!
Rain never felt so good!

This reminded me too that I had this big responsibility to carry when I came, that I must get through with the cause for the Bersih 2.0 rally.

I wasn't only doing this for myself, for my family and my friends were counting on me! Then, I heard people shouting, "Keluar! Hujan! Hujan!" I followed the voices.

We were so thankful for the rain. Everybody took a few minutes to give thanks and say prayers for the rain. Muslims were silently saying, "Allah-u-akbar" and I also saw an Indian Christian man look up to the sky with his palms together, saying, "Thank you, all mighty Jesus. Thank you for blessing us with this rain!"

bersih rally 090711 police shooting into tung shin hospital front imagePeople were saying, "we may not be approved by the government, but we are approved by God Himself!"

Shedding tears of joy, I held my hands up to the sky and received the rain with many thanks to Mother Nature.

That feeling, I can never explain it to you. Even the police and FRU stood stunt for a while. I don't really believe in miracles, but this was definitely a miracle!

The crowd got back together and this time, we were all really angry and disappointed with the police and the FRU. They were still coming at us.

Half the crowd ran to Tung Shin Hospital, the other half tried getting into an abandoned building opposite the hospital. The police and FRU were clearly not going to stop their attack.

People inside Tung Shin Hospital shouted for us to come in to seek refuge. As fast as we could, we ran towards it!

Behind me, there were still so many of us, and it seemed like they wouldn't be able to make it before the police and FRU came to Tung Shin as well.

Gosh, that was scary. The people were clearly disgusted with the authorities, for shouts like "polis bukan manusia!", "polis anjing!" could be heard from all corners.

The police came closer, and they sprayed chemical-laced water into the the front of Tung Shin Hospital. How dare they!

We had to get away from Tung Shin, for it was getting too dangerous. If they could attack peaceful protesters seated peacefully on the streets, if they could spray chemicals at the front of a hospital, they would do worse things...

NONEI thank those brave men who stayed back to keep the gates of the hospital closed while we got out.

We could not carry move on the main road as we were sandwiched from the beginning, so we continued on the back alley.

I saw people climbing over the gates of Tung Shin Hospital, with the help of many others.

I wanted to capture that moment with my handphone camera but could not because of the overloaded text messages from mum (who was my main supporter for taking part in this rally), Bersih's facebook statuses (on what was happening in and out of the Pudu group) and friends and cousins who were keeping in touch to check on me.

We continued to Changkat Chulan area, Jalan Sultan Ismail (where the Concorde Hotel is), Bukit Nenas, KLCC (to hear the speeches from Mat Sabu and Chua Jui Meng) and lastly, being chased towards Ampang by the police and FRU, where our walk ended.

Every rally I've attended has made me more appreciative of my reasons for taking part. The Bersih 2.0 rally, on the other hand, got me thinking of my priorities as well.

I'm sure Bersih would have had the same effect on those who were there. Bersih 2.0 changed my life!

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