"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
Today is a historical day in Malaysia, my beloved country, where BERSIH 3.0 rally took place. Tens of thousands of Malaysians (we do not have the official finalized figure yet) turned up at all roads leading towards Dataran Merdeka today to voice up and protest: we want a CLEAN (Bersih means Clean in Malay Language) electoral reform, we want a clean government ruling the country, and we want change. Enough is enough, the whole world know how bad in shape this country is, and how desperate of a change we need to build a better nation.
When I heard about this rally few weeks ago, I originally did not intend to be a part of it. However, as it grew closer to closer, I thought to myself, am I happy with the current state of my country. My answer is simple: NO. And I want change. No one can do this alone, and the people, the Malaysians will have to come together, make a stand, and make a loud statement. This will be a mark that turns history for Malaysia, and I don't want to look back many years from now and regret that I have not done anything. Yes, I want to be a part of this revolution, and yes I intend to play my part, no matter how small it may seem, no matter how insignificant it may be, as a photographer, to document this event, and share it out to the world, however far and wide I can reach through this humble blog of mine. I march in the rally with tens of thousands of people, as Malaysians. I fought as a photographer, and I will be showing you loads and loads of photographs taken from today's event.
I know, deep down in my heart that, if I did not do anything, and chose to be ignorant instead, evil will win. I will NOT let that happen.
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 Mk1 (non-SWD).
BERSIH: Version THREE point ZERO
No one wants LYNAS in Malaysia, so get the **** out.
True Malaysia, desiring a better tomorrow. Together we stand.
Inspired by V for Vendetta.
Police barricading all entrances to Dataran Merdeka.
Roads were empty, due to blocks.
Therefore, I was joined by friends who have common goals: to see a better Malaysia. I have a friend, Luke Chua who was in a wheelchair, yet he was strongly determined to perform his best and work his camera magic, fighting our way through the impenetrable crowd. Talk about dedication and strong will, most of my friends who have no disabilities simply chose to sit quietly and idle their time away at home, while we were out there fighting the good fight. Besides Luke, I also had another friend with me, Eno Wong, who flew in to Kuala Lumpur from Kuching (across the South China Sea) for the weekend, specifically to join the Bersih Rally. He proudly carried a Sarawak Flag at his back at all times. Having these two passionate friends with me added a lot more to my desire to shoot and grab more and more shots.
We booked a hotel at Bukit Bintang and stayed the night before the rally, because we already anticipated difficulties coming into the Rally routes and locations on the actual day: there would be roadblocks, and public transport would be shut down.The city council did not approve the Rally (in this country freedom of speech is DEAD) hence, they make it hell for people who intend to make the rally happen. Staying in a hotel nearby the targeted locations saved us a lot of trouble, we could just walked to the locations after we checked out from the hotel in the morning.
We started of by walking from our hotel in Bukit Bintang towards Pasar Seni. Our targeted first point was Central Market (near Petaling Street, or China Town in KL) and we originally wanted to join the crowd there and rally with them. When we arrived, a lot of protesters were already chanting loudly and singing patriotic songs. Little did we expect, Datuk S. Ambiga held a press conference just outside the Central Market, and I was in luck to grab a few shots of her. Datuk Ambiga was the lead and organizer of the entire Bersih event, with strong support from many local opposition party leaders.
Guy Fawkes mask, universal symbol of freedom
Datuk S. Ambiga, the leader for BERSIH, after holding a press conference at Pasar Seni in the early morning. She looked worried.
Trying to calm the crowd, that dude is doing a great job.
We don't want shit from the government, we want BERSIH
As the police vehicle passes by, they were being BOO-ed by the people. Malaysian police has very bad reputations of being corrupt and not serving the people's best interest.
While we were at Pasar Seni, I bumped into quite a few familiar faces, including Ruby Ooi, whom I have not seen for a long time !! She too, was armed with a Canon DSLR, ready to attack the event.
After Pasar Seni, we decided that we should not follow the huge crowd, and move out to Dataran earlier, to avoid the rowdy crowd that could get very messy.
When we arrived at Masjid Jamek area, as anticipated, all entrances to Dataran were already sealed off completely. The police has set up barb wires surrounding the area, and the police force itself were on standby to retaliate in case anyone decided to breach and enter into Dataran. Nonetheless, that did not dampen the anyone's spirit, as we all grew larger and larger in number, as more and more people joined and flooded the surrounding areas of Dataran Merdeka. We may not be granted permission to use the Dataran as our protest ground, but the presence of so many Malaysians, all coming here for the same reason: that should send a strong and clear message, that we are NOT happy, and we demand CHANGE.
After staying at one entrance location towards Dataran for a while, we decided we should change location and shoot from a different entrance. Hence we walked towards Masjid Jamek direction, and that was when things got very funky. That place was sardine jammed packed with people, everywhere !! There were times I was stuck in a spot and could not move for minutes. The amount of people was unimaginable, and that was the most hectic place of all, I dare assume. More and more photographs were taken, we slowly, but steadily, we made our way pass the unbelievably massive crowd and found ourselves very near to the front line. The only thing that separated us was the barb wires and policemen lining up, ready to pounce at victims who dared to cross their boundaries.
Luke Chua, a GREAT photographer, who has inspired me recently. He was there at BERSIH. So what was your excuse for not being there?
My Kuching friend, Eno Wong, who flew all the way to KL just for this event. He proudly carried the Sarawak Flag. I am proud of you my friend !!
My nother friend, Ruby Ooi, whom we bumped into, and she decided to tag us along.
Jason Lioh did not miss the party. Spotted many friends along the way too. Great to see everyone coming together.
Singing Patriotic Songs
I agree, blood suckers !!!
At the end of the day, all we wanted, was for the best of the country.
Luke was given a gentle reminder by concerned fellow citizens that, when things get rough, we would be at a disadvantage, and when things get even uglier, we might not be able to do anything at all. Having safety as priority in our minds, we decided to turn back. As we were on our way out from the "hotspot", tear gas was fired towards the crowd, and that was when panic started to happen. Push became shove, and everyone started to force their way out of the crowded area. Although I was nowhere near the launch area of the tear gas, but it did get to me, and goodness gracious did it sting my eyes and noses so badly I thought I have stuffed myself with raw onions mixed with chilli and peppers. It was painful, tears streamed down my cheeks, and for that moment, for that brief painful moment I understood the pain of the people who were there, we all suffered together, we all were attacked by the Police. How hopeless were we?
Through all the sudden panic, we all got separated. I found myself out towards Dang Wangi, hence I decided to call it a day. It was already 4pm, and we were out since morning 9am. I was tired, hungry, and hurt from the tear gas. My feet started to hurt from all the walking (not having a very comfortable pair of shoes either) and my mind gave up. Hence I took the train out of the hotspot and found my way home. However, Luke decided to continue shooting, now that is what I call true passion of a photographer. He went on further than most people did. I should make a blog entry dedicated to this incredible photographer soon.
It has been a wonderful experience. I am glad, I made it there, and I am glad, I shot images.
In the following slideshow, I have compiled 122 images, arranged in chronological manner. I did not want to flood this entry, hence for the rest of the photographs, please view the slideshow.
My only request from you beautiful readers, is please, please share this blog and the photographs with your friends, and tell the world that Malaysia NEEDS CHANGE Tell the world that something is not right in this country, and that there is still hope. Because the people knows how wrong it is, and we want a clean reform. We want a clean election (no dirty tricks and phantom votes). We want a clean country, ruled by a clean government that truly serves the people. I may not be an influential leader, I may not do much, but I sure hope my photographs will do its job in telling the stories I want to tell. I sure hope that the anger, the frustration, the hatred and the burning desire for a better Malaysia will find their way to you all.
I love Malaysia, and I will fight for it.