July 9, 2011
BERSIH2.0 Day has arrived and Malaysians takes to the streets of Kuala Lumpur
The Police is expected to battle with UMNO Youth and polls reform coalition BERSIH in the streets of Kuala Lumpur as both groups seek to break the blockade to mount two separate protests.
UMNO Youth, which is rallying to defend the electoral system, will be congregating in Bukit Bintang at 1.30pm. This was a last-minute change of time from the earlier announced 10am.
BERSIH has vowed to gather at the Stadium Merdeka at 2pm to call of wide-ranging reforms in the electoral system which it claims to be unfree and unfair. Despite roadblocks at key junctions and roads in Kuala Lumpur, traffic is smooth due to the low amount of vehicles, but traffic is gridlocked in the outskirts as the police are weeding out possible protestors.
The majority of the Police are stationed in the usual haunts for protestors – Dataran Merdeka, Masjid Jamek area and Sogo shopping centre.
Vehicles entering this area are being vigorously inspected. There is also heavy police represence at Masjid Negara. As of 8.30am, LRT services are operating as usual, without any stations inaccessible.
The weather forecast in Kuala Lumpur is expected to be a mix of cloud and sun with a chance of showers or thundershowers. UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia kicked off the day with a screaming front-page headline in bold red ‘Curfew in KL today?’, followed by ‘There are people planning to open fire and blame the Police for it’.
7.50am: Masjid Jamek – There is heavy police presence in the vicinity of the mosque. The road in front of the mosque has been sealed off.
7.45am: Masjid Negara – A dozen FRU jeeps and a water cannon truck are stationed at the Jalan Keretapi roundabout opposite the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court complex. No roadblocks are visible, but there are many police personnel in the area.
8am: Jalan Bukit Bintang – The streets of the tourist trap areas in Bukit Bintang are still empty, save for a few cars and jaywalker. Unlike the other known assembly points for protesters, there are minimal police presence. UMNO Youth is expected to rally here at 1.30pm.
8.10am: Tune Hotel – The Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman interchange is being manned by about 100 police personnel who are inspecting all vehicles entering the area. Tourist appear to be having trouble finding taxis.
8.25am: Sogo – The Sogo shopping complex on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman now looks like a police base. More than 10 police trucks and 100 police personnel are spotted. There is another roadblock here, and every vehicle is being inspected.
8.30am: Kampung Baru – Nine BERSIH 2.0 supporters are nabbed and packed into one of the two police trucks parked near the Kampung Baru mosque. The road to the mosque has been cordoned off.
8.40am: Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman – Bar Council’s monitoring team hits the streets donning black suits and a “Observer” tags on their jackets.
“We will monitor the rally and take photographs if necessary. There are about 100 observers from Bar Council. Some of them are also providing legal aid,” said HR Dipendra, who leads a team of 15 observers.
8.45am: PAS headquarters – No uniformed police personnel or police vehicles are being stationed here, but a group of unidentified men has set up a video camera opposite the building. PAS’ top leaders are believed to be holed up here.
8.50am: Dataran Merdeka – Police has cordoned off Dataran Merdeka. More than six FRU trucks, including a water cannon truck is being parked here.
Along Jalan Tun Perak, near the Masjid Jamek station, more than a dozen FRU trucks and a water cannon truck were spotted. The area is a favourite haunt of anti-government protestors in the past.
An estimated 300 FRU and other police personnel are stationed within the vicinity.
“Nobody can enter this area,” said a uniformed policeman when the reporter tried to enter the area surrounding Dataran Merdeka.
9.00am: Stadium Merdeka – The route to the stadium from Jalan Maharajalela is being blocked with a barbwire barricade. Journalists who wish to enter the area must registered with the Police.
9.05am: KL Sentral – Police are inspecting the bags of a group of PAS supporters from Kelantan.
9.15am: DBKL – About 60 police personnel and ten police trucks spotted at the T-junction in front of City Hall.
9.25am: Kampung Baru – Another 18 males have been brought to the Police truck, joining the nine detained earlier. The truck is parked in front of the Kampung Baru mosque, has locked up by the mosque committee about ten minutes ago.
9.35am: IPK KL (state police headquarters) – As of 9am, 21 people have been arrested, according to spokesperson ACP Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf. Unofficially, an officer at KL IPK say the number of people arrested has exceeded 100.
9.30am: Maju Junction – Four men are being whisked away by the Police after Police found a yellow shirts in one of their bags.
9.35am: Masjid Jamek – Seven people have been detained. It is unsure why. Reporters are now allowed to get near the truck where they are held. “You cannot be here. Please speak to my officer if you want to enter this area,” said a police personnel.
9.40am: Istana Negara – A water cannon truck and riot police were spotted at the area. It seems that this strectch of Jalan Mahameru is completely off limits to vehicles.
9.40am: Bukit Bintang – At the shopping belt near Lot 10, it’s holiday as usual for tourists who have started to pour into the streets and into the malls.
The UMNO Youth anti-BERSIH rally is expected to start from Bukit Bintang Plaza at noon, before marching to Stadium Merdeka about 2km away.
Some clashes are expected to take place with BERSIH 2.0 supporters who are also marching to the stadium.
However not a single UMNO protester is in sight at the moment. About 50 members of the press have also converged in front of the iconic McDonald’s at the Jalan Sultan Ismail – Jalan Bukit Bintang junction.
While there are no roadblocks nearby, a handful of plainclothes policemen are seen loitering about holding their walkie talkies tight.
9.45am: Masjid Negara – At least 1,000 BERSIH 2.0 have gathered near the former KTM headquarters and are chanting slogans.
9.50am: Masjid Negara – An elderly man approaching the national mosque with the intention of praying has been turned away by the authorities. BERSIH 2.0 supporters at the old railway station is growing.
9.55am: Petaling Street – A diminutive retiree, who only wants to be known as Anne, says freedom is precious.
“I am old, but I am walking (with BERSIH) because they are taking away my freedom, I can’t even wear a yellow shirt now,” she said when met.
“When I was young I didn’t do anything. I was in the education service and I had to stomach (misgovernance) like sheep because it was my bread and butter,” she said.
The feisty woman, who had her details taken down by police this morning for wearing a bright yellow shirt, was part of the BERSIH rally in 2007. She is walking alone today, “because it’s easier to work alone”. Asked of her children’s reaction to her decision, Anne, who chided a reporter for asking her age, said her children told her to “have a nice walk”.
Petaling Street is under a kilometre from the Bersih’s final destination Stadium Merdeka. Police have cordoned off part of the road as well as adjoining Jalan Tan Cheng Lock.
9.55am: Masjid Jamek – More passengers are streaming out of the LRT station. The Police are not checking their personal effects but are keeping close watch.
Outside of the Masjid Jamek LRT station, the area along Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Pudu is crawling with police officers. Some are guarding the entrance of Masjid Jamek.
This spot was one of the major flashpoints during the first BERSIH rally in 2007.
10am: Masjid Jamek – Police are seen randomly checking the bags of people in the Masjid Jamek LRT station vicinity.
“They asked me to open my bag and asked me where I came from,” says a middle-aged Malay man who was stopped by the police for a check.However the cops did not find anything suspicious in his bag and let him go.
Masjid Negara – At the old railway station at Jln Sultan Hishamuddin, a 70 year-old man wearing a Pakatan Rakyat vest and serban was arrested along with two helpers after he insisted on going to the national mosque for prayers. The three of them are led off in a police jeep.
Masjid Kg Baru – The surroundings of Jalan Abdullah, Jalan Raja Alang and the masjid are calm with light traffic.No BERSIH supporters or leaders are in sight. The police seem to have the area under control.
10.05am: Masjid Negara – The crowd in the area is rapidly growing. There are now more than 1,000 people, facing off with about 400 police personnel.
No one is allowed inside the national mosque except the police. About 10 police trucks are parked nearby.
10.10am: Sogo – As a steady stream of shoppers enter the mall oblivious to the heavy police presence, one man is seen being whisked away in a police truck. Sogo appears to be the only mall open for business in the vicinity.
10.21am: KLCC – BERSIH tweets that there is a police clash with supporters. “Gas canisters used,” it says. Malaysiakini is trying to verify the report.
10.23am: PDRM reports that as at 9am their ‘Operasi Polis Perhimpunan 9 Julai 2011’ has seen 21 arrests – 20 Malays and one Chinese.
10.25am: Masjid Jamek – There are more arrests around Masjid Jamek LRT station. The Police truck parked beside the Masjid Jamek mosque has at least 16 people in it.
Earlier, a man in white shirt was arrested after Police stopped and checked his bag. Some fund-raising documents were found but they were not related to BERSIH 2.0. The man conceded that he was raising money at a PAS ceramah.
Soon after, the police nab another four young women clad in tudung as well as three men. All of them are not wearing yellow.
10:35am: Stadium Merdeka – Police have set up barbed wire barricades at the two ends of Jalan Stadium, keeping both pedestrians and vehicles out. However, some 20 press personnel are camped out in front of the stadium.
10.35am: Masjid Jamek – Two women in red and pink respectively have been nabbed by the police and several strips of red cloth found on them. One of them read a newspaper as she was lead away by a female cop.
Another man who was carrying a green T-shirt with Jawi script printed on it has been arrested.
The Masjid Jamek mosque, which protestors used as a shelter during the 2007 BERSIH rally has been locked.
10.43am: Sogo – Another three men, carrying backpacks, are picked up from around the area. One, a heavily built man with a long goatee, appears to be wearing a Bernama press tag.
Approached later, the Bernama reporter said he was let off after the police was satisfied with his explanation. He said he was questioned because he was holding a walkie-talkie. The other two however was brought up a truck.
10.45am: Kampung Baru – Yet another group of people are being detained, including one male who was in possession of a Bersih T-shirt. He was not placed with the other detainees and brought elsewhere for questioning.
10.55am: Stadium Merdeka – Police have closed off the Maharajalela and Hang Tuah monorail stations, which is the closest to the stadium.
10.56am: KTM railway station – About 100 police are manning the entrance leading to the national mosque.Some Pakatan Rakyat supporters are being asked as to their presence there.
10.58am: Brickfields – PAS Gombak Youth chief Syarhan Humaizy was nabbed by several plainclothes police officers at a restaurant near YMCA in Brickfields. Syarhan and several other PAS supporters are stopped by cops who are checking restaurants and questioning suspected protesters.
The rest of the Syarhan entourage escaped the dragnet and they are now moving towards Stadium Merdeka via Jalan Tun Sambanthan.
11am: A Bukit Aman source said that more than 100 people have been arrested this morning so far.
11.04am: Hang Tuah LRT station is now closed due to “security reasons”.
11.10am: KLCC – No evidence to claims that tear gas was used at protestors here. Weekend shoppers are seen going about their business as usual.
11.12am: Sogo – Police trucks are filling up fast. Another three men are being processed after they were detained around Masjid India.
One of the man, who is from Alor Setar, says that police searched his bag and found yellow T-shirt.
“Put in my photo, splash it a bit (Bubuh gambar saya, biar besar sikit),” he grins before being told told to go up the truck.
11.25am: According to sources, Pakatan Rakyat leaders are moving into the city centre.
11.30am: Royal Malaysian Police Facebook page says that as of 11am, 236 people have been arrested – of whom, 228 are men, eight women.
11.35am: Tension rising at the old KTM station. The police are trying to disperse the crowd inside gathered on platforms inside the building.
The crowd is chanting “God is great” and remain in defiance of the police. At least six people have been arrested within the vicinity since morning.
11.34am: Masjid Jamek – A young man who has a yellow BERSIH 2.0 T-shirt in his bag arrested in front of the McDonald restaurant.
From 10.50am until now, the total number of those arrested in this area is close to 40. They are carted away in a police truck as well as a police van. Anticipating more arrests, the police call in another truck to serve as their temporary remand room.
The heavy-guarded Masjid Jamek LRT station is still operating and commuters are still streaming into the area.
The number of journalists, both local and foreign, have increased to 50.
11.44am: The biggest crowd is in both the vicinity of Masjid Jamek and Masjid Negara. However, the gates into Masjid Jamek are locked while Police are not allowing anyone near Masjid Negara, confining most of the people in the old KTM station.
11.47am: UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin sends a tweet saying that his Patriot group will be gathering in Jalan Bukit Bintang at 1pm. “Pahang UMNO Youth chief Abu Jimi has been arrested by the police in Putra bus station.”
11.50am: Azmin Ali sends tweet – Saya sudah berjaya tiba di ‘forbidden city of KL’ (I have successfully entered the forbidden city of KL). PKR deputy president Azmin is one of the 91 individuals banned by a court order from the protest area.
11.45am: Sogo – A woman is seen pleading with the police to release her husband who was picked up after the couple were shopping at Haniffa Textile.
“The police asked me to take a taxi, but there is no taxis here,” said the franctic woman as the police truck with her husband inside pulled away.
11.55am: Old KTM station – There are still many people loitering on the middle platform of the train station. Those asked to leave are seen exiting through a pedestrian bridge near the Syariah Court.
More than a dozen have been arrested in this area. The police are very rough in handling suspects. One is grabbed by the neck. Second police truck filled with those arrested leaves for the police station.
A team of Light Strike Force is lining up, preparing to move into the KTM station to disperse the crowd.
11.58am: Petaling Street – About 50 people are gathered in smaller clusters along the market street, believed to be protestors. However, none are wearing yellow items of clothing.
12.01pm: Old KTM headquarters – A public service announcement said that Komuter trains are facing delays because the authorities are conducting checks on passengers.
12.10pm: Masjid Jamek – MPSJ councillor Michael Tamil and Mohd Hafifudin, who is chairperson of Bumiputera Hawkers Association Masjid India, are monitoring the Masjid India market area.
“I’m here to see how much are the losses of the hawkers because of people not coming in,” said an annoyed Hafifudin.
“If the hawkers suffer due to road closure, who should they claim their losses from? They should claim from the government,” he told Malaysiakini when met at Bazaar Jalan Melayu.
Almost all the stalls and shops here are closed. The same announcement also urged those without tickets to leave the area.
12.15pm: PAS headquarters on Jalan Raja Laut appears very quiet with only about 50 people outside, including former PAS information chief Misbahul Munir. Four police patrol cars are parked 50 meters away, with about 15 police officers. A group of Special Branch men are mingling with the crowd, some watching from afar.
12.17pm: According to the Police Facebook page, they are dispelling BRSIH 2.0’s Twitter claims that there was a clash between protestors and the Police at KLCC and that tear gas was used.
12:20pm: IPK KL – A total of 338 people have been arrested – 321 males and 17 females.
They were picked up around Dataran DBKL, Istana Negara, Pasar Seni, Kampung Baru and Masjid Jamek.
12.21pm: Former KTM headquarters – The toilets in the building have been locked up by the police.
12.23pm: Masjid Jamek – Although hardly any shop is opened, many people are loitering around the back lanes of Little India, waiting for the time to act.
The Police continue to comb the back lanes, checking the bags of potential protesters.”They asked us to open our bag, suspecting there is bomb inside,” said an angry middle-aged Malay woman from Klang after her bag was inspected by four uniformed police officers.
“Why can’t we just sit here? This is our human rights,” said another woman who is also from Klang.
12.30pm: KL Sentral – Pakatan Rakyat leaders Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anthony Loke and Saifuddin Nasution are at Hilton Hotel, which is located in the building. They are expected to hold a press conference soon. All of them are on the list of 91 individuals banned from entering Kuala Lumpur.
12.31pm: KL Sentral – PAS vice-presidents Mahfuz Omar and Salahuddin Ayub has been detained.
12.32pm: Masjid Jamek – MPSJ councillor Michael Tamil and Mohd Hafifudin, who is chairperson of Bumiputera Hawkers Association Masjid India, are monitoring the Masjid India market area.
“I’m here to see how much are the losses of the hawkers because of people not coming in,” said an annoyed Hafifudin.
“If the hawkers suffer due to road closure, who should they claim their losses from? They should claim from the government,” he told Malaysiakini when met at Bazaar Jalan Melayu. Almost all the stalls and shops here are closed.
12.34pm: About 1,000 people are moving from the old KTM station towards Dataran Merdeka. They are warned by the Federal Reserve Unit to disperse.
12.40pm: Official police update: As of 12 noon, 441 people have been arrested – 421 males and 20 females.
12.42pm: Old KTM station – Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said they are concerned over the mass arrests.
“Police said they will be detained at Pulapol (Police Training Centre). We are monitoring the arrests and express our concern,” he said. Nayagam, however, does not want to comment whether the police were rough in their actions against the suspects.