Marina Mahathir, begitulah nama yang tidak asing pada rakyat Malaysia. Walaupun bapanya Tun Mahathir tidak bersetuju dengan tindakan anak perempuannya ini dalam DEMO BERSIH, Marina tetap mahu bersama rakan-rakannya untuk berjalan secara aman untuk demokrasi bagi menuntut pilihanraya yang adil dan bersih.
Marina memang terkenal dengan sikapnya yang radikal dan liberal. Ambiga adalah rakan Marina yang banyak membantu Marina dalam banyak kes yang melibatkan hak asasi bagi membela beberapa kumpulan terpinggir seperti pesakit HIV- ADIS, kelompok gay dan lesbians, hak wanita tertindas, dan kelompok minoriti yang memilih agama mereka sendiri. Walaubagaimana pun, Marina telah terbuka hati untuk mengikuti Demo BERSIH 2.0 bersama rakan-rakannya yang percaya kepada perlunya ketelusan dan profesionalisma dalam pengendalian piiliharaya di negara ini.
Tahniah kepada Marina Mahathir! Kita boleh berbangga Marina dapat merasai kesakitan, kesengsaraan, keperitan, dan kepayahan yang dihayati oleh rakyat yang cinta kepada demokrasi yang adil. Marina tidak perlu bergelar Profesor untuk memahami bahawa beza antara pilihanraya yang bersih lagi adil dengan demokrasi yang tidak sempurna. Senator Profesor Datuk Dr. Firdaus, ahli sidang Dewan Negara, berkata kita tidak boleh jumpa demokrasi yang sempurna dan kita tidak perlu berarak di jalanraya untuk menyempurnakan demokrasi.
Marina menulis di bawah ini:
So I went.
A friend who lived in the city offered to be my protector and together we devised a plan on what to do. Hubby was supportive and gave some advice on how to stay safe. My neighbours also wanted to come along. So fairly earlyish, my friend drove over to get me with no problem and we headed back into the city. Despite the roadblocks in some areas, we encountered no problems. In fact driving into KL was so pleasant because the roads were so clear. The police directed traffic where they had to and were generally cooperative ( except for one we saw arguing with a man trying to get into his own condo). We got to a roadblock in the KLCC area and my friend explained that he lived in the area and they let us through, four people in a car dressed as if we were going hiking!
From my friend’s apartment block, we walked to Times Square and parked ourselves at the Starbucks for a coffee while we waited. A cursory look around the outlet and mall revealed that many people were doing the same thing. Meanwhile a whole van of police was stationed outside the mall but after a while they all went off.
We kept in touch with various friends around the city to find out where they were and what the situation was. At about 12.30 we started to walk up Jalan Hang Tuah towards the stadium area. We were not in big groups, just people out on a weekend stroll. We thought we would encounter police in front of the big police headquarters in front of Pudu Jail but there was nothing. When we got to the corner of Jalan Hang Jebat, we saw some police motorcycles and only a couple of cops. Lots of people were just sitting on the curbside under the eye of the cops. It was pretty clear what all these people were there for.
We walked along Jalan Hang Jebat in front of Stadium Negara towards the OCM and found many other friends waiting there. Apparently at one point the cops had given chase even though there was no reason to and caught some people and hauled them off. But from then on we could sit and wait by the curb without anyone disturbing us.
Jalan Hang Jebat and the small road that led up to Stadium Merdeka stayed pretty quiet. Members of the Bar Council (who had to suffer wearing their suits in the heat just so that we could spot them easily) walked around observing what was happening. At one point one woman in a suit sat herself at the intersection to take notes.
|One lone woman lawyer at her station, Jln Hang Jebat|
We all debated whether to stay there or move down to Petaling Street but we were afraid that we wouldn’t be let back up again. Then it started to rain. My friend and I sought shelter under some hoarding along with young people. Just then I got a message that we were to go to KL Sentral. After confirming this with a friend at Sentral, my friends and I started to walk down Hang Jebat just as a large group of people started walking up. The rain was pouring at that point and I didn’t know quite what to do, whether to tell people they should turn round or not.
Seeking shelter for a while under a shop five-foot way, I talked to various other friends and eventually decided to head back to the stadium area where I found my daughter and lots of other friends there. The main group earlier had gone up to Stadium Merdeka, did some chanting in front of the FRU and then headed down again. But many people hung about just to observe everything and soak in the atmosphere. One group of young people had yellow ribbons on sticks and started a little dance. Others were buying ice cream from a bicycle vendor who came by. There was a real carnival atmosphere.
Here’s a video of the rally yesterday taken by my daughter. As you can see, it was peaceful. And every time some people started chanting ‘reformasi’, someone else would start a louder chant of ‘Bersih’.
I have to say that I never felt safer than when I was in the crowd. People recognized me and said hello. Some wanted to take photos. It didn’t feel any different from any other Saturday out. And to be perfectly fair, the cops and FRU in my area showed admirable restraint. They saw that people were not doing anything more than chanting and nobody was harming anyone so they just stood there and left everyone to do their thing. We came across a whole FRU unit blocking a lane next to the Chinese temple at the roundabout at the bottom of Jalan Maharajalela, waved at them and they waved. Cool cops!
Of course not everyone had the same experience. Here’s an account from a colleague who was in a different street:
Unfortunately my experience wasn’t so benign. I was part of the marchers (along with A and others) who were effectively kettled by the police in Jalan Pudu. FRU units to the front and back of us prevented us from leaving, and we were trapped by the walls of a construction site opposite Tung Shin Hospital after the FRUs pushed us back. It was probably the worst of the hotspots because of that: when the police started firing round after round of tear gas at us, we had nowhere to run to. I think they were determined to make an example out of us, because they bloody well tear-gassed and sprayed us with water cannons when they had no reason to do so.
We were all tear-gassed at least three, four times. An NGO staffer was hit by a canister. V told me that she saw people jumping off the second floor of the Puduraya bus terminal because the police had released tear gas too close to the terminal and the wind carried the fumes into the enclosed building. When the marchers ran for shelter in Tung Shin Hospital, the police fired tear gas and water cannons INTO the hospital grounds. Later the police lured us into re-assembling on the road on the pretext of negotiating a peaceful dispersal. They arrested the MP (Sivarasa) who was doing the negotiating, then — after ordering us to sit down so (as we realised later) we would be sitting ducks — they fired more tear gas and water cannons at us. A, myself and our companions eventually managed to find a way out from the trap via the Santo Antonius church and (irony of ironies) the car park of the Hang Tuah police station (near the monorail station). There were so many very brave people yesterday.
I now know that smearing toothpaste under the eyes to reduce irritation caused by tear gas actually works (thanks, A)! I’m still itchy and short of breath from all that tear gas, which is a bit annoying. But really, mostly what I remember of the rally was how moving it was: the solidarity among the protesters, how people looked out for one another. Whenever I was tear-gassed there was a stranger running along at my side and offering me and my friends salt to counteract the effects. When the police sprayed chemical-laced water cannons into the crowd and the people affected cried out for water to wash the stuff away, others turned and ran back toward the cannons with bottles of water to help. People helped others climb up a hill towards the hospital to escape (some guy helped me up the steep slope). Someone always stepped up to make sure that a panicked run doesn’t turn into a stampede, including an elderly woman who took it upon herself to guide the marchers to safety. She’s a first-time marcher to boot! Actually there were lots of first-time marchers, and more young middle-class urbanites than I’ve ever seen at any other rallies including the 2007 Bersih rally. At one point people started picking up the tear gas canisters and throwing them back at the police, or kicking the canisters safely away from the marchers and bystanders. I heard via the #bersihstories Twitter hashtag when the police fired tear gas into Tung Shin, there were people who grabbed the canisters and wrapped them in their own towels, then threw the canisters into the drain so there wouldn’t be so much fumes.
There are many stories and photos, both good and bad, of the whole event. But to me what was most important was that Malaysians proved two things: one, they can assemble together on a common cause peacefully and two, therefore showed that they are a mature people. The fact is that there were all kinds of people there, young and old, all races and religions and all classes and creeds. I bumped into many young people, the children of my friends, who had come to see what it was all about and decide for themselves what to think about the issue.
|Do these people look like hooligans to you?|
There are also some people claiming that the world now has a bad impression of Malaysia because the foreign media (and the local media for that matter) reported only about the teargassing and water-cannoning. I think people are confusing the government with the people. Yes, the world now has a bad impression of the Malaysiangovernment because it has handled this whole issue so badly. They don’t have the same impression of the Malaysians who stood up for their rights and their cause.
|This is what gives a good impression: protestors and police shaking hands before dispersing at 4pm.|