04 May 2012

A blind man's story of tear gas and water cannon spray ...

As a blind and responsible citizen of Malaysia, I did what I had to do and that was to participate in the Bersih 3.0 peaceful demo on the afternoon of April 28, 2012.

Both me and my other half took the LRT train from Sri Petaling to Masjid Jamek and arrived there just after 2pm. By the time we arrived at the above-mentioned station, a huge crowd had already congregated there to show their support.

The atmosphere was indeed fantastic as the participants were like one happy family and the concern for one another was indeed marvellous as we all joined the peaceful demo with one thing in mind and that was to help bring about clean and fair elections.

After marching for about half an hour, we finally arrived at Dataran Merdeka where there was a huge police presence and they were about to unleash their cruel acts on the peaceful participants of this rally.

As the crowds were chanting to have the barricades removed from Dataran Merdeka, suddenly, without warning or any provocation, the trigger happy police personnel released volleys of tear gas and chemical laced water on the peaceful demonstrators and needless to say I had to suffer several minutes of agony to the extent that I almost passed out at one stage.

Thanks to the kind comrades who were around me, both me and my wife were given towels and salt to help us in neutralising the caustic effects of the poisonous fumes of the tear gas and chemical laced water.

I must take this golden opportunity to thank the above mentioned comrades who came to my assistance during my hour of need.

As we were quite near to the barricades, my group bore the full brunt of the tear gas thus making it very difficult for us to breathe and somehow I felt a terrible pain in my tummy which almost caused me to pass out at one stage.

Thanks to the kind concern of the comrades around me I am able to survive to share my experiences.

The high handed manner in which the police discharged their duties is most reprehensible and must be condemned in the strongest terms.

Following our ordeal, we tried to seek shelter at the Masjid Jamek LRT station but unfortunately, the gates had already been shut.

Having failed in our attempt to seek refuge to escape the tear gas fumes, we decided to run to another building within the same vicinity and while making our way there, we were kindly assisted by some medics who were standing by, who gave us eyedrops and advice us as to how we should act in combating the fumes.

I must take my hat off to these brave individuals for their bravery and self sacrifice.

I must also not forget to thank the comrades around me for their kind generosity in distributing wet towels, salt and even isotonic drinks to those who needed them.

I am indeed touched by their noble acts.

We finally made our way to a building called Wisma Hamzah Kwong Hing where my comrades requested the guard to open the doors for us to seek refuge to which he flatly refused.

Several of us including yours truly were in quite a bad state and in spite of the pleas from my comrades to let us in, this inhumane guard refused to budge and stuck to his decision not to allow us to gain entry into the building.

Unfortunately, due to my predicament, I was unable to make friends with my very kind comrades, but finally when I had recovered sufficiently from my ordeal, I managed to speak to one, going by the name of Asma, who told me that she is a structural engineer by profession.

During our conversation, she told me she has nothing but disdain for this very despotic regime.

She was angered by the cruel actions of the police on the peaceful demonstrators, and just to please their political masters, the police had to act violently towards all the right thinking citizens who participated in this rally.

For the benifit of the readers of this article, I was interviewed by a reporter from one of the Chinese press where I was given the opportunity to show my revulsion for this very uncaring and dictatorial regime.

Even the young reporter shared my sentiments and felt that we should do more to effect change.

When I told the reporter that if a blind person is aware of the fact that we are ruled by a corrupt and racist government, then all the more, able bodied citizens should take a pro-active stance to vote out this very irresponsible and unpopular regime.

At this juncture, I wish to take this golden opportunity in paying tribute to all the selfless individuals, who against all odds, both sacrificed their time and took the trouble to attend this very meaningful rally.

So my dear friends, please do your duty by giving your votes to Pakatan Rakyat during the forthcoming general election with the hope that all citizens will be treated equally regardless of race or religion.

Finally, I wish to inform all readers that I have two videoclips to back up my article and you can see them on my
Facebook page or my blog.

You can also watch these two videoclips on my
YouTube channel (alfredho1111).

I also wish to inform all readers that I also participated in the first Bersih rally in 2007.- Alfred Ho. - malaysiakini

Not another lazy Saturday...

My first rally was on June 4, 2010. I was part of the thousands of Malaysians who rallied outside the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest against Israel’s attack on an aid flotilla heading for Gaza. I figured that was the least that I could do for the Palestinians.

My second was Bersih 2.0 on July 9, 2011. I was in Melbourne at the time, so I took the opportunity to join the crowd in Federation Square. It was a peaceful gathering. No tear-gassing, no barbed wired, no provocations, no fear. It was nothing like what I experienced last Saturday during Bersih 3.0.

Last Saturday made me recall a popular Malay proverb, which says “hujan emas di negeri orang, hutan batu di negeri sendiri, baik lagi negeri sendiri”. Basically it means, although the grass may seem greener in other countries, our country is always better. This, however, does not seem to be the case, judging by what happened during the peaceful assembly last Saturday.

I woke up on Saturday morning with the realisation and enthusiasm that there were two important occasions on that day. Number one, it was my beloved mother’s birthday and two, it was Bersih 3.0. I decided to follow my brother to get the real experience, to be a part of the crowd.

At around 9.30am, my brother was already at the front door with my cousin preparing to leave. “I can’t wait for you. The LRT is going to be closed anytime. You better arrange something with Dad.” I felt a bit down as that was my only chance to be with the crowd because my father had told me earlier that he would only observe from the car. Hoping that he would change his mind, I put on my yellow Bersih T-shirt just to get in the spirit and followed him.

We arrived at the PAS building at around 11.10am and there were already so many people in yellow, gathering around the building. After much consideration, my father decided to march alongside his colleagues.

At 11.45pm, we walked from Jalan Raja Laut heading to Dataran Merdeka. The number of people who joined us while walking together stunned me. The crowd was massive and it grew bigger and bigger as we passed the streets.

The jovial crowd of different ages, various races, were all chanting “Bersih, Bersih”, “Hidup Rakyat” and singing peacefully while exchanging friendly greetings. It was a highly spirited sea of people in a lively carnival-like atmosphere, gathered for a good cause. I was really very proud to be part of it.

We were at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman when the crowd was asked to stop walking. “Berhenti, Berhenti!!!” From where I was standing I could see nothing but countless heads that were all taller than me.

I sneaked further upfront to get a better view of what was going on. There were a number of human barricades made by the police forces that stood straight up in their uniforms with serious faces. We were all asked to sit and be patient while the lawyers and leaders did their best trying to negotiate with the police to let us pass through.

It was 12.20am and the sun was blazing hot as I stared in admiration at the lawyers who were all suited up. How could they stand the heat with their blazers on? I guess it’s true when they say “It pays to look good”.

I kept the thought to myself. After awhile, we were allowed to pass through.

'Non-Muslims stood by as we prayed'

We continued marching together until we were few metres away from Dataran Merdeka. A few leaders gave their speeches using loudhailers while the crowd cheered and applauded. Many times we were asked to sit and stand again. Sit and stand.

I heard a man who was probably tired of being asked to sit and stand at random intervals (in Terengganu dialect) “Kejak duduk kejak bangungg, susohh ngakk dudukk jelahhh!!”(One time you ask us to sit and one time you ask us to stand. It’s difficult. Just let us sit down i.e there is no need to stand up). Everyone who understood let out a big laugh.

More than twice, the FRU Trucks and police car came out of nowhere. Obliged to make way for them, the busting crowd grew impatient and started cursing out loud. Some even threw empty bottles but the leaders played a good role controlling and calming the crowd saying that it is a form of provocation and we should not give in. We were reminded to stay away from any provocations.

[Pic at left courtesy Malay Mail]

At 1.20pm an announcement was made that now it is time for Zuhr prayers. A group of men before me performed the ablution using just mineral water. The non-Muslims were really respectful and made some space for the Muslims to pray.

When the prayers were completed and the invocation was read out loud, everyone kept silent. It felt just right. To me even the simplest things like this could move us deep inside.

After some time, I tried searching for my father but he was nowhere to be seen and to add insult to injury, my phone was out of battery. Tired, I sat together with the crowd while my eyes wander off searching for familiar faces.


Suddenly, I saw a long-lost primary school friend trying to make her way through the crowd. I screamed out her name and we embraced each other. Who would’ve known, in the swarm of hundreds of thousands, I could have bumped into an old friend. Funny how random that was but I was really glad.

We made our way passed the crowd to be at the front. We could clearly see Dataran Merdeka guarded by armed policemen; there was barbwire, razor wire, FRU trucks. I felt like a prisoner in my own country. Finally, after squeezing through the crowd aimlessly, I found my father, said goodbye to my old friend and observed the crowd grow louder as Anwar Ibrahim arrived. We were all waiting for Anwar’s speech when out of the blue, there was a commotion and I could hear people screaming “Lari, Lari!!” (Run, run!!) with panic-stricken faces.

In a matter of seconds, smoke came out from the middle of Dataran Merdeka, canisters of tear gas were shot and at the same time, water cannons were sprayed directly towards the innocent crowd.

I was confused to why the police didn’t issue a warning before firing the shots. I stood still staring at the chaotic crowd, to ensure what I’m seeing before my eyes was real. Realisation hit me when my father grabbed me by the hand and we ran as fast as we could together with the crowd. With all our might, we jumped over fences and I felt really bad stepping on the flowers planted beautifully alongside the curb but I had no other option. My teary eyes and throat were hurting. Pounding fast, it felt like someone ripped my heart out, and for a second, I thought I would die due to breathing difficulties. The temporary pain was unbearable.

The 'real' experience

While running, my father coolly repeated “It’s okay, it’s okay” while patting my head. Having my father by my side, I felt safe. I took a look around and saw people still running with their bloodshot eyes and tired faces, like a scene in a movie.

Except that this, was real. In the midst of the chaos I could clearly recall how the crowd was helping each other out. Some offered salt, some offered mineral water and some offered words of comfort. It was truly a united feeling and concerted effort made for Bersih 3.0.

We headed towards the PAS building, joining a number of people who were already gathered there. The leaders remarked that this was not the end of their fight.

Despite being tear-gassed, despite the brutality and forces used against them, the people, who were also representing the voice of many more, have won the battle just by coming down to support Bersih. My caring friends and relatives were all tweeting/texting and calling me. “Be safe, take care”.

I bet many others got that from their friends and families as well.

I was having late lunch with my father, aunt and uncle at a restaurant nearby when my brother and cousin joined use. They told us that they were on the other side of Dataran Merdeka when the tear gas and water cannons were fired. 

They couldn’t run as they were stuck in the middle of the crowd. They ended up hugging each other because there was nothing else they could do and they could barely see their surroundings due to the thick smoke resulting from the ongoing tear gas and water cannons fired.

Alas, they managed to squeeze out of the crowd and found a small ‘lorong’ and ran as fast as they could. While running, they stumbled upon a bottle of Mirinda Orange and out of desperation they took the bottle and washed their faces with it to ease the burning pain. I felt sorry for them but at the same time, that was a real experience and we laughed!!

The rest of the time was spent sharing everyone’s experience. That got me thinking about the people who were in a far worse situation, badly injured. I pray to God to ease their pain, to make things easier for them. While sharing our experiences, my brother suddenly said that something fishy had happened. Strange enough, the police did not fire the tear gas at the people who crashed the barricade to get inside Dataran, instead they focused on the people who were outside of that area.

It is probably true when people said that the provocations came from the plain-clothes policemen themselves who pretended to be protesters.

The satisfaction

The next morning, I grabbed a few newspapers. Front pages of the leading papers had pictures of an overturned police car, ugly pictures of damaged property and harm done to the police were shown. Violent protesters were well portrayed. They might have fooled some readers who were not at the scene, but for more than 200,000 people who gathered and marched on the historical day, we know what really happened. The people will continue to rise and the truth will prevail.

However, let us not forget the people who strongly opposed Bersih. I try to respect their views. But people who has no basis and whined about how stupid Bersih was, for causing massive traffic jam and “Like oh my god I can’t go shopping or watch a movie, KLCC, SOGO, etc. The train stations are closed because of Bersih” also “Buat apa nak sibuk demo? Awak tu student. Duduk diam-diam study lah” (Why join the demo? You’re a student. Just sit quietly and study) annoyed me to the core. Try telling that to the sea of people who came down. At least they believe in something.

Last Saturday could have been another lazy day but these people chose to make a difference. They offered in their energy, time, and money and even went to the extent of risking their own safety to march in together for a good cause, free and fair election.

Each and every single soul who came down was brave in their own way. This is one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had and I’m glad that I was chosen to be part of Bersih 3.0.- Sharifah A,Harakahdaily.

Aziz says police an 'ignorant and confused' lot...

Former law lecturer Dr Abdul Aziz Bari has recounted his experience of being arrested on April 28 during the massive Bersih 3.0 rally for electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur.

Aziz, believed to be among the first groups of protesters arrested on that day, said policemen had indulged in an orgy of name-calling and personal insults directed at protesters and Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

"Yellow shirt! Arrest!" he recalled screams from City Hall enforcement officers and policemen at the time of his arrest near the OCBC Bank.

"Don't you know you're old! You're old, so just stay home," Aziz (far left in pic) recalled a policeman taunting him.

In another instance, a policeman shouted: "Here are Anwar Ibrahim's dogs!".

Aziz said as he was physically being dragged, the police nabbed a media photographer for trying to take a snapshot.

"One student of photography complained that his camera costing thousands of ringgit was destroyed by a policeman," said Aziz, who likened police attitude on that day to the "thuggery" displayed by UMNO offshoot Perkasa.

Aziz, whose senior academic position at the law faculty of the International Islamic University was terminated last year, said some of the lower-ranked policemen were speechless when he demanded to know which law was being invoked for his arrest.

At one point, he told a policeman to rush medical treatment to a wounded detainee, and warned that he would be held responsible for any custodial death.

"He (the policeman) turned pale and speechless. This only goes on to show that the police force is ignorant and confused and fear the UMNO-BN government. They show their courage only in groups. Perhaps they don't have access to the Internet and only take orders from their bosses," said Aziz.

Assaults and taunts aplenty

He said even at the police station, officers would taunt and physically harass detainees who were already weak and exhausted by their ordeal.

"Some would punch, kick and slap the detainees as they are led away."

Citing one incident, Aziz said a PAS Unit Amal member was seen dragged behind a police truck, before loud noises were heard. Shortly after, the Unit Amal member was dragged away, visibly much weaker, "possibly beaten to a pulp", added Aziz.

On a lighter note, Aziz said some of the arrogant police officers suddenly turned polite to him after hearing other detainees address him as 'professor'.

'No moral values'

Aziz added that the extreme fear of police officers of their bosses was once again illustrated when Bakri Zinin, the Bukit Aman CID director, arrived at the police station "greeted by the officers' salutations and foot stomping".

"My perception of the police especially after Bersih 3.0 is that they are ignorant, confused and under pressure. They also lack moral values," Aziz concluded.

But Aziz said he was least surprised.

"When even judges and officials of the Election Commission who are protected by the constitution are fearful of UMNO-BN, what  can one expect from these policemen?"-
Aziz Bari,harakahdaily

Zakaria - "Saya ditumbuk di pipi kiri dan dibelasah oleh sekempulan 10 orang polis"...

(GAMBAR - Zakaria Mohd Razaki (dua dari kiri) selepas membuat laporan polis di IPD Kemaman, turut hadir Yang DiPertua PAS Kemaman, Hj Ismail Harun (tiga dari kanan), Setiausaha PAS Kemaman, Ustaz Alias Abdul Hamid (paling kiri) dan Penolong Setiausaha PAS Kemaman, Mohd Hafiz Adam (paling kanan)).

Peristiwa dibelasah oleh sekumpulan polis sedikitpun tidak mematahkan semangat Zakaria Mohd Razaki untuk turun berdemonstrasi menuntut keadilan dan ketelusan dalam pilihanraya jika diarahkan oleh pimpinan parti, khususnya BERSIH 4.0 sekiranya diadakan.

Malah, peristiwa hitam yang penuh tragis itu menguatkan keazamannya untuk memastikan sistem pemerintahan yang ada sekarang ini ditumbangkan melalui pilihanraya umum yang akan diadakan tidak lama lagi.

Demikianlah antara ungkapan yang diucapkan oleh Orang Kena Tahan (OKT) Zakaria Mohd Razaki, 25 tahun, seorang Tukang Rumah ketika ditemui.

Menceritakan detik  - detik beliau ditumbuk, dipukul, disepak, diterajang dan dibelasah oleh sekumpulan polis ketika menyertai BERSIH 3.0 di Dataran Merdeka, beliau mengimbas kembali, 'waktu itu sekitar pukul 6.20 petang saya bersama 3 orang rakan menaiki tangga LRT di Masjid Jame' untuk pulang, katanya.

'Sebelum menaiki tangga LRT saya nampak sekumpulan anggota polis berdiri tetapi tidak mengendahkannya, sampai di tingkat 2, tiba - tiba seorang angota polis menarik bajunya dari belakang dan ketika itu saya agak terkebelakang berbanding dengan 3 orang kawan saya itu', jelasnya.

'Polis itu bertanya hendak kemana, beliau menjawap hendak ke LRT tiba - tiba sebiji tumbukan singgah di pipi kanan saya dan polis itu menarik baju saya menuruni tangga', katanya.

Beliau seterusnya berkata, 'saya diheret ke tempat sekumpulan anggota polis yang saya nampak tadi dianggarkan 10 orang dan di situlah saya dibelasah bertubi - tubi hingga jatuh dan rebah di atas jalan', ulasnya.

'Bila saya rebah, sepakan dan tendang terajang bertubi - tubi singgah di seluruh anggota badan saya dan dilakukan oleh bukan seorang tetapi beramai - ramai macam pesta belasahan beramai ramai', imbasnya lagi.

Dikala itu beliau ada mendengar suara rayuan dari seorang wanita yang melihat kejadian tersebut supaya polis menghentikan pesta belasahan tersebut tetapi tidak diendahkan.

'Selepas dibelasah di situ, saya diseret ke trak polis dianggarkan 100 meter dari tempat kejadian tadi dan bila sampai sahaja di tepi trak polis saya sekali lagi dibelasah beramai - ramai disitu', ujarnya.

Beliau yang datang menyertai BERSIH 3.0 bersama 3 orang lagi rakannya menganggap peristiwa tersebut sama seperti yang dilihatnya di dalam TV berlaku di Semenanjung Gaza di Palestin.

Beliau di bawa ke PULAPOL sekitar jam 8.30 malam dan disana diperiksa oleh seorang doktor yang hanya bertanya samada beliau ada rasa tulang patah atau tidak dan tidak diberi ubat untuk merawat kecederaannya.

'Saya terasa sakit yang teramat kesan dari peristiwa tadi tapi amat terkilan kerana tiada sebarang ubat diberikan', soalnya lagi.

Dalam trak polis dianggarkan seramai 18 orang OKT bersamanya dan beliau terasa amat bangga setelah melihat kebanyakkannya terdiri orang muda dari pelbagai bangsa termasuk seorang Warga Asing yang turut ditangkap.

'Pada masa itu mata saya lebam, kepala ada benjolan dan tulang belikat saya terseliuh akibat dipulas tangan ke belakang oleh polis tetapi tiada sebarang ubat diberikan oleh doktor tersebut kerana beliau berpuas hati setelah mendapati saya tidak mengalami sebarang kepatahan pada tulang', katanya dengan penuh kesal dan hiba.

Di PULAPOL makanan yang disediakan tidak mencukupi dan saya tidak dapat makan dan minum kerana kehabisan makanan.

'Setelah diambil keterangan, saya diarahkan berbaris untuk sessi ambil gambar yang memakan masa yang amat lama memandangkan ramai OKT berbaris panjang', imbasnya lagi.

Setelah semuanya selesai, beliau dihantar menaiki bas ke Hentian Jalan Duta sekitar jam 4.00 pagi walaupun ramai kawan - kawannya menunggu di luar PULAPOL untuk menjemputnya pulang.

OKT Zakaria menganggap peristiwa pembelasahan yang berlaku pada dirinya sebagai ujian dalam perjuangan menentang pemerintahan yang zalim dan tidak sekali - kali serik untuk terus berjuang menentang sebarang bentuk kezaliman pemerintah.

Sementara itu, bapanya, Haji Mohd Razaki Kassim, 56 tahun tidak sedikit pun rasa sedih setelah mengetahui anaknya dibelasah dan ditahan polis semasa menyertai BERSIH 3.0.

'Sebagai bapa, saya berbangga kerana anak saya tahu erti perjuangan menentang kezaliman dan peristiwa dipukul dan diterajang ini adalah asam dan garam dalam perjuangan menentang ketidakadilan dan kezaliman', ulasnya ketika ditemui di rumahnya di Kampung Batu Putih, Kerteh semalam.

Beliau juga melahirkan rasa kesalnya kerana anak beliau dipukul dan disepak dalam perjalanan pulang dan mempertikaikan apakah tugas polis sebenarnya, adakah untuk menjaga keselamatan rakyat atau melakukan kekerasan dan penindasan kepada rakyat, yang mana satu sebenarnya.

'Bagi Pak Cik orang kampung ingin bertanya inikah bentuk demokrasi yang dihasilkan melalui program transformasi Najib, saya amat malu jika inilah tranformasi yang dilaungkan pagi petang siang malam di dalam radio dan tv' katanya lagi.

Mengakhiri sessi pertemuan tersebut, OKT Zakaria berkata polis ada bertanya kepadanya berkenaan seorang anggota polis yang dilaporkan dimasukkan ke Intensif Care Unit (ICU) dan selepas dia menjawap tidak tahu menahu, semacam ada perasaan ingin membalas dendam maka saya menjadi mangsa belasahan beramai - ramai tersebut', ujarnya mengakhiri pertemuan tersebut - Buletin Online

Rakyat makin meluat dengan kenyataan polis.


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