Thursday, July 21, 2011

I was there - Hann Sze

I was surprised to wake up on the morning of 9 July to see both my parents dressed in yellow. My dad had only decided that morning that he would go.

He was ready, wearing his yellow shirt firmly tucked in. After much persuasion, he decided to change into a blue shirt instead.

As for my third sister, she wanted to bring a whole bag of clothes so that she would have some clean clothes to change into, in the event that she was arrested.

At about 11 a.m., we entered the city by monorail. To my disappointment, I encountered a ghost town. KL's roads were empty and the shutters were closed. I did wonder whether or not the rally would be able to succeed.

Was I afraid? Hell yes. Every road block we crossed and every small group of people gathered sent chills up my spine.

After all, the Bersih 2.0 office had been raided just two hours after I bought my t-shirts. But I really wanted to be there! To be together with the rest of the people whom I prayed would turn out.

At about 1.15pm., we received a call telling us that a group of Bersih supporters would pass by our location (we were at Berjaya Times Square as my dad wanted a Starbucks). Immediately, I eagerly grabbed my camera and ran to the streets, trying to find the crowd.

Just being there excitement

They were walking in the opposite direction. My friend and I broke off from my family and ran as fast as we could to catch up with the procession.

I felt so happy, so excited, and so thrilled to be in the midst of over 3,000 others walking and chanting! I ran ahead, hoping to capture some pictures in front, where people were walking with their arms linked together.

Not long after, I saw a much larger group of people in yellow ahead... all waiting for our batch to catch up!

This spurred us on even more. We started running and yelling and clapping until we met up and merged with the larger group. At that point, our numbers had reached at least 10,000 already!

I can't really describe the feeling but it felt so good. Despite the heat, everyone pushing around, and smelly people! Somehow in the pack, everyone is your friend. People start shaking your hands, giving you random high fives, wide smiles, and lots of encouragement. It felt like we were actually achieving the 1Malaysia theme.

We then slowly marched towards Puduraya after waiting for other groups to join in.

Gas, water, brings togetherness

Upon crossing the Puduraya station, we were greeted by the PDRM and FRU units. You knew then that they had been anticipating our arrival as the water canon trucks were already deployed ahead.

Soon after, water cannons started spraying us with chemical water, followed by many canisters of tear gas. Immediately, people startingrunning in the opposite direction.

The gas was terrible; it felt like I had just been showered in pepper spray. It brought on difficulties in breathing, loss of sight, and sharp bites on my body! Nevertheless, we ran as far as we could where
we reassembled again.

What's interesting is that after getting gassed and sprayed, people from different races were helping one another, helping those who fell, passing salt around, providing water, etc.

I remembered how a Pakcik saw us in pain and handed us salt, which is supposed to help ease the effects. The salt didn't help, trust me, I don't know why. But the gesture of that Pakcik did help. It didn't feel that bad anymore, and we got away quickly from the scene.

However, as we all ran in different directions, we were cut off by other policemen and FRU punks who had blocked off the other end of the road.

Many sat down on the road, with some giving speeches and taking orders from the organizers. Many others were forced to the Tung Shin Hospital, where they hid at the hospital's compound.

How has this changed me? I'm amazed, how one woman could initiate a global event involving tens of thousands to gather for a common cause!

We may not have made it to the stadium, but deep down, I know that the rally was a success by itself - for the rakyat to gather in harmony to show that we have a voice.

I have the highest regards for the rally leaders, who, despite knowing that they would be detained on sight, took a bold step to appear to provide further encouragement. Many of them were detained and injured! You guys are my inspiration!

I always believed that Malaysia had no future.
I finally realized that I was wrong, because of today.
Today might not change anything up there,
But it definitely showed the world that we, the rakyat, have a voice!
The voice went, "Rakyat Bersih; Rakyat Hidup"

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