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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bersih 3.0. My experience.

Near the Bar Council building the night before. Listen to the students from Occupy Dataran. Into their 15th day. Syabas!!!

If you didn't go to Bersih 3.0 on April 28,  you missed a wonderful event and a day in which, in my opinion, Malaysians gathered to celebrate a new-found freedom. A liberated voice. And it was a good feeling. Min and I went to Dataran 
Merdeka the night before Bersih 3.0. We walked around the Jamek area and stopped in front of the Bar Council building where the students from Occupy Dataran were gathered to 'discuss' and come up with a plan for the next day.  It 
brought a lump to my throat watching and listening to these young Malaysians. No harsh words were uttered. No ill-will against anyone, least of all, the government. They wanted to voice their demands and their rights to have that 

At the front entrance of the Masjid Jamek we met Haris Ibrahim chatting with some people and we walked with him towards Dataran Merdeka.

People gathered around a boot sale of Bersih 3.0 merchandise. 

We strolled along the river behind the HSBC building to the fringe of Dataran Merdeka. There were about a thousand people already gathered there. Mostly yellow-shirted Malaysians checking out the area for the rally in the morning. There were chants and occasionally a shout but the mood was generally very civil 
and very carnival-like. And very soon Haris was absorbed into a group of Bersih 3.0'ers and disappeared from sight. We walked up Jalan TAR and turned right into the road where our hotel was located. In front of the hotel a noisy bunch of people, some in yellow were laughing, chatting and joking about what was expected to happen the next day. Inside the hotel a group of anxious tried to beg the hotel receptionist to spare them a room. The hotel was full.
Me and Max about 40 meters from the razor wire barrier in the early part of the day.

The next day we walked out to the area of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman where our hotel was located. By that time, about 11AM the road was already beginning to fill up but it was sparse enough to allow us to walk comfortably right up to the edge of the area where razor-wires were put up. This is the end of Jalan TAR just before Dataran Merdeka. There was police presence with police manning the barricades of DM but nothing intimidating at all. I found a shaded spot on the kerb and seated myself next to a senior gentleman who told me that he had 
travelled from Terengganu for the rally. We chatted and I found out that he and I were of the same age. He was Bersih veteran having attended all 3 rallies. This kind man politely told me that my Malay was very good. I stifled a laugh at myself and thanked him. Strangely, after that comment I didn't say much more to 

We found a shaded place on the kerb to sit.

As the morning wore on the crowd increased and soon we heard chants and larger and more organised crowds walked into the area from the direction of Jalan TAR leading to Coliseum and further on, SOGO. Nothing untoward happened with people generally enjoying the rally in a Malaysian way. Talking to people they just met. Taking photos with fellow-rally-iers they hardly know. And of 
course, talking about where to eat later. 

Overhead, helicopters circled and each time they came over our area the crowd looked up, waved and cheered. Why? I don't know. After a while the crowd tired of the circling choppers and didn't look up anymore. Then I noticed that the 
choppers didn't come round again. Instead, they were replaced by a couple of powered-paragliders who circled the Dataran airspace. 

Who they were we didn't know but assumed that they were Bersih 3.0 supporters. Otherwise, who in their right minds would choose April 28 to fly over Dataran Merdeka?! The paragliders made several passes over us each time to thunderous 
applause from the gathered mob. Someone voiced the thought that they might try to land on Dataran Merdeka. Whether they did or not we never found out. But they would be arrested someone said. Ya la but they can always plead engine failure. It was either land or crash into the people below. Somehow my cynicism didn't allow me to believe that had they landed the police would be in a mood for jokes.

Part of the almost unending row of policemen marching past towards Dataran Merdeka. Because I am vertically-challenged this photo is from a shitty angle. Sorry.

At about 1145 (I think) a HUGE contingent of policemen came marching up from Jalan TAR towards DM. There must have been hundreds of them because the marching line kept passing us and didn't seem to end. One of the onlookers 
commented that the uniformed men didn't reallylook like real policemen. I looked a little closer and did feel that something (although I don't know what) was not right about the look of these "policemen". The colors of their berets weren't consistent. A lot of them looked too young and clearly had terror in their eyes and demeanor.  They kept marching towards DM and I began to wonder where they were going to store them. Well, I suppose they could all gather at DM since it was out of bounds to anybody else. I reckon DM can easily hold 50 thousand policemen or pretend mata-mata.  This police parade was cheered, not jeered mind you. Cheered! By everyone at our section of Jalan TAR. Less than 20 minutes later another loud cheer announced the arrival of an equally large contingent of yellow-shirted Bersih supporters who also kept marching towards DM. Where got space for so many people, I wondered. We were standing merely 40 meters from where the razor-wires began. True enough the line stopped marching and on order the Bersih people sat on the road. Some fanning themselves furiously and others trying to chat with other Bersih supporters like us seated on the side of the road under what little shade we could find from the noon-day sun that was blazing out from a passing cloud. After a few minutes the yellow shirts stood up and continued marching toward DM. Gonna be a tight squeeze over there for sure I thought. 

From the direction of the DM we heard shouting and I stood up to observe the arrival of 2 FRU trucks. One clearly a water-cannon and the other a personnel carrier with red-helmeted FRU standing on the open turret top. As all rally 1st-timers, I'd expected some of us to react with trepidation at the sight of these 
vehicles and the FRU uniforms. But there was strangely no worried looks or suggestions of moving away. 

But around 1245 we decided to go look for somewhere cooler to rest since nothing much was happening at the sit-in. Someone spotted a cafe across the street and we crossed the still accessible road to Restoran President Kafe. It was packed! It was pure luck that we managed to find a table by the window that has just cleared. 

Great location as it was under a powerful, circulating fan and we had a view of the rally action. The view out the window was towards Menara DBKL and part of one of the razor-wire barricaded entrances to Dataran Merdeka. We ordered some snacks and teh tarik and kopi-peng and teh-o ice limau etc. Some of us had Maggi mee goreng. The restaurant was doing a roaring business. 

Hishammuddin Hussein and other BN flers who say that Bersih and other street demonstrations are bad for business are clearly not very suited to be businessmen. Earlier on, on the street I saw mak cik's and pak cik's doing brisk business selling bottled water, ice lollies, juices and there was even a stall set up selling keropok lekur!!! Bersih 3.0, like other rallies before it was clearly very good for business despite a minority of belly-aching shopkeepers and taxi drivers who keep getting interviewed and quoted in the MSM. There were also unidentified volunteers going around distributing bottles of cool water  to mostly senior citizens.  FREE!

But Restoran President's food was more business than taste so we decided to go find our lunch somewhere else. 

Every square inch of space contained a Malaysian.

We came out to find a whole new scenario. The area where we had been casually walking around and seated earlier in the day was now packed with people. Almost every square inch of ground was occupied by Malaysians of all shapes and sizes. Some standing some sitting. There were balloons in the air. People were singing. Rasa Sayang. Negara-Ku. Chanting Bersih, bersih. Hidup bersih to the tune of Jingle Bells. 

Next to me a mak cik was seated on the floor texting on her mobile phone. She was oblivious to the sea of legs that seemed to drown her presence at Bersih 3.0

Someone then suggested that it would be a good idea to walk up the road to the historic Coliseum Cafe for lunch. What a great idea! The Coliseum where Tunku and his colleagues had gathered to plan Merdeka, our country's independence. What better place? What better atmosphere? And we inched our way through the gathered crowd and I experienced what the authorities will refuse to have us believe. That Malaysians gathered for Bersih 3.0 were truly united as one nation, one people. 

I was using a walking stick as side stepping the thousands of people standing and seated along the road was not easy for me. And each time I stumbled people around me jumped to my assistance. With genuine concern.

When we arrived at The Coliseum, dozens of other Malaysians had already had the same thought about the historical significance of being there on this fateful day. We found a table and I noticed that business on this Sunday was more than what the staff normally expected. And so an order for 2 jugs of beer took more than 35 minutes to arrive from the bar situated 10 ft. away. The mood in the Coliseum was jovial and relaxed and friendly. Chants of Bersih, Bersih. Hidup Bersih resonated at regular intervals from the bar. In the dining room people were 
happily eating the house specialities of the historic cafe while chatting about their 
experiences out on the streets. I met many friendly people who offered drinks and company and debate about the day's event. Then I felt a sudden sting in my nose and eyes. Seconds later, the staff of the cafe rushed out and hurriedly closed all the windows. Tear gas! The police fired tear gas. I heard someone shout. But the mood in the Coliseum hardly shifted. Such was the sanctity of the old drinking hole of Malaysia's first prime minister. People put wet towels to their faces in between bites of their Hainanese chicken chop or sizzling steak. Reports of high-
handed actions of the police came streaking in on everyone's Twitter, Facebook and sms. But the mood in the restaurant remained one of calm resilience. The old ghosts of The Coliseum would have been pleased. Outside the pop-pop-pop of 
tear gas guns being fired could be distinctly heard. There was a small commotion when someone rushed to the Coliseum's doors and forcibly tore them open much to the protest of the people inside. Then the news filtered through that the police or someone had locked us all in. From the outside. Funnily enough the rear doors 
were wide open. Some people at this stage tried to leave but soon came back inside saying that tear gas was still in the air. More tear gas filtered in through the cafe's air vents and people start pulling out wet towels to cover their nose and mouth. All the while not breaking the rhythm of their conversation or meal.

The lively and congenial atmosphere inside the historic Coliseum Cafe.

While waiting for the tear gas to disperse we organised our own Beer-sih rally around the Coliseum bar.

My wife and some friends decided to go upstairs to The Coliseum's balcony to take photos of what was happening outside. The photos she brought down showed an almost deserted section of Jalan TAR. A few stragglers were running for cover and some ran into the nearby Kamdar store which strangely kept its doors open. A waiter went round telling people not to go up to the balcony anymore. Later I would learn that the restaurant we'd been in earlier, the President 
was right smack in the middle of the initial tear gas assault by the police. There was also a story circulating that the Swiss Inn hotel next door was where police broke in and hauled out and beat up some guy. 

FRU personnel outside The Coliseum area of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman

At about 5PM we decided to move out of the historic bar and make our way home after hearing that the situation outside was calming down and the crowds were dispersing peacefully.We went out through the cafe's rear door and turned across into Jalan TAR and then cut across to Masjid Jamek LRT. On the way there through a street bazaar which still had some stalls open we saw a large group of people in yellow running across. We retreated into a bank ATM lobby with its doors helpfully held open by the security guard. Seconds later it was quiet 
again and we walked the few steps to the LRT station. The aluminium shutters to the station lobby had been ripped open and was hanging like a limp banana leaf from its hinges. Inside the LRT lobby life looked normal with people queueing up at the ticket machines and going to the trains. We made our way to the platform and boarded the waiting train and went home.

Looking back it wasn't so much a rally for clean and fair elections. For me it was a rally for Malaysian citizens to celebrate a new-found freedom and a new-found and LOUD voice.  

It was a damn good day.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Watch deputy education minister, Wee Ka Siong enjoying his own boogers......

Some last minute awards

"The train has left the station.......I want to bring everyone onboard including people in Sabah." 
- Najib Razak.  
But...but...but...I thought you just said the train has left the station, right? 
So why now only telling the Sabah people one?

The  HUH? YOU SURE OR NOT AWARD for saying something that totally won't be believed by most Malaysians this weekend goes to Prime Minister, Najib. And here is his incredible quote as reported in The Star today...

"The goal of becoming a high-income nation is not a dream but a realistic target based on YEARS OF PRUDENT MANAGEMENT OF THE COUNTRY..." (highlights are mine)

Okay, have you stopped laughing yet?  Of course, our prime minister would not leave you for the weekend without rubbing some salt into your gaping gullibility wounds.  He did that today by saying that the average income of Malaysians was growing at a fast pace.



On page 10 of The Star today there is a story which wins the award for Most Misleading Story Lead-in Line.  Here it is......

There is no justification to abolish the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) study loan as some students use it for personal expenses - MCA Youth chief and Deputy Education Minister, Wee Ka Siong.

Don't get it ah?  Read the line again a few times and you might soon join the campaign to abolish the PTPTN loans too.

Have a nice weekend. Well, unless you have not registered to vote by telling  yourself............
a)   Hiyah my vote won't make a difference one la.
b)   Hiyah waffor to vote la? They (BN) sure win one la.
c)   Hiyah waffor to vote la? All governments are corrupt one.
d)   Hiyah waffor vote la? Pakatan will be just as corrupt as Barisan one.

............ in which case may your weekend be a really f**ked up one in all the ways which will make you feel miserable.  Hahahahahaha....


Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday funnies

One of the alleged demonstrators showing his alleged wounds suffered after being attacked by alleged hooligans.

Funny #1

There is a really funny story in the front page of The Sun today titled, "No checks, please: EC"

The  Elections Commission was giving its agreement to some of the proposals made by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms. But the funny bit is this.

The commission is against letting a PSC monitor the implementation of the recommendations to the EC!

Isn't this like a childish, foot-stomping reaction by the EC? Okay la, I agree to your proposals but why you must come and check that I am implementing the changes?

The EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said that this was because such monitoring would impinge on the commission's position and independence!!!???

Errrr....Mr. chairman how would that be possible? Somebody watching to make sure you do your job properly would impinge on your independence?  Please explain nicely to us dumb members of the Rakyat can ah?

Funny #2

The award for the funniest ironic statement from a minister goes to Hishammuddin Hussein today. For saying......

"We are a progressive country and demonstrations are normal in a democracy, it is a global culture. This rally is just about people who want to gather, so it's really not an issue."

PHWAAAAR!!! Damn good, right? Same bird but can sing so many different songs, man. Tabik!  But I am fantasising that the minister must have added somewhere that should some baargers come and wallop you during the demonstrations then you cannot expect sympathy la. But of course our police people will arrive on the scene in less than 6 minutes. After the baargers who beat you up have gone la. But we will investigate. That one we sure do one. Trussssssssssst me.  Hahahahaha...sorry.

Funny #3

This next funny is really laughable and scary too. 

The Malaysian Parliament yesterday passed 8 laws in one day!!!
(I couldn't find this story in the online version of The Sun but it's in the street version page 04)

Funny #4

I am sure you all have read reports or seen the video of the students being attacked by a gang of hooligans while holding a rally in Dataran Merdeka.  This funny appeared in The Sun today.

The deputy higher eduation minister Saifuddin Abd. has urged the police to investigate the allegations of the attacks against the students. But I would have thought that from just watching the online videos and talking to people who were there would be enough reason for the police flers to start doing some investigations. No ah? So funny one. Deputy minister must come out and URGE ah? Damn farniee, right?

Funny #5

PTPTN or no PTPTN? This issue has been in the news for the past couple of weeks.

Got PTPTN, some people say it gets abused. Students use the money to buy stuff instead of what the money was intended for.

No PTPTN then people say a lot of Malaysian students will not be able to afford tertiary education.

To me it all seems to be a matter of poor system control especially in the collection department. PTPTN gives out loans but does not seem to have a viable system of collection in place after all these years. Funny la. The amount runs into the billions. But nobody seems interested to recover it.

Then there are many people who support the Opposition view that education, up to tertiary level, should be the FREE right of every Malaysian citizen. But last night a friend mentioned to me that instead of campaigning for free education people should campaign for BETTER QUALITY education. If the quality is lousy WAFFOR? Give me free osso I don't want, right? Which is actually is what is happening right now. True?

Have a nice weekend, folks and...

If you have not registered to vote by now you have done your country and your fellow-Malaysians a great disservice! And I hope you have a rotten weekend.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Funnies

Maybe the Brit ones will submerge!

Funny #1

British Prime Minister, David Cameron was in the country. And saying very nice things about Malaysia and Najib. The 1st British PM to visit Malaysia in 20 plus years! A period of benign neglect as Najib put it. When I read the reports of Cameron's visit I must admit I was impressed by the high quality of diplomacy displayed by all. And then David Cameron announced that he and Najib discussed "the possibilities of Britain taking part in the future procurement prospects for Malaysia".
Ahhhhhhhh........Things getting too hot in France I guess. Got to look elsewhere lor. Hor?

Funny #2

The award for understatement of the day goes to Najib Razak for saying that the government did not find it easy to give up its powers under the Internal Security Act. He also said that surrendering the power to detain suspects without trial was especially difficult for his cousin Hishammuddin, the Home Minister but that "he did so willingly because he understood the expectations of the people." Phwaaar!!! Damn good right? Did so willingly cos he understood the expectations of the people wor. Should we all start a signature campaign and say terima kasih ah?

Funny #3

The award for most hilarious ironic statement of the day goes to Muhyiddin Yasin when he rubbished Anwar Ibrahim's proposals to abolish the PTPTN using money generated by Petronas. This is what your deputy prime minister said....
"If WE squeeze Petronas dry, what do WE have? Do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs."

Funny or not? Can laugh sampai mati I tell you.


Monday, April 09, 2012

Talk cock award

Jangan risau K? You pi main bola. Najib take care your land for you ok? Ha! tu rakyat yg patuh. Bagus....bagus....pi sekarang.

One of the most ludicrous statements he's ever made must be Najib's announcement yesterday that 50 of the best footballers from FELDA schemes will receive training in the sport at the Cardiff Football Academy! Najib also said that the stint in Britain was part of efforts to develop the sport as an industry and a nation-building tool. Develope the sport as an industry and a nation-building tool???  I thought sports is developed for the love of sports. Obviously, in Malaysia everything is boiled down to Ringgit and Sen and politics. And I never even knew that FELDA schemes were a hotbed of football talent waiting to explode on the World Cup arena. But I suppose it is an attempt, no matter how silly, to divert attention from the fact that FELDA people are about to be fucked big time.