Bersih 4 different from past rallies

07 Sep 2015 / 17:17 H.

    DUBBED the "mother of all rallies, the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago was disparate to illegal street demonstrations Malaysians had seen before.
    The sequence of events in the days and hours before the rally with the authorities deeming it illegal including banning the use of yellow clothing would give most people the impression that chaos would eventually be the theme at the end of the gathering.
    On Aug 29, the first few hours were no different from such past rallies with rally-goers donning yellow clothing congregating at several locations in the city at 2pm before marching to the boundaries of the heavily-guarded rally venue – Dataran Merdeka.
    Within hours, the heart of the city was turned into a sea of yellow by tens of thousands of people.
    Traffic police maintained a smooth flow of vehicles. Regular policemen on duty calmly kept watch over the crowd.
    Riot police on standby remained restrained.
    There were neither warnings to disperse blaring from megaphones nor were there ugly scenes of chemical-laced water shooting into the air or toxic gas causing teary eyes.
    Instead, there was calm in the midst of what had turned into a carnival-like atmosphere with people merry-making while making a stand for a cause they believed in.
    Police personnel though breaking sweat under the scorching sun exchanged pleasantries with smiling rally goers.
    It was obvious, the policemen many who were refered as "abang polis" appeared touched when passing rally goers thanked them for their restraint and kind approach.
    At about 5pm, when no "action" appeared to be on the cards, I decided to mingle with the crowd in areas surrounding Dataran Merdeka, bumping into several police friends on duty along the way.
    "So, what is happening. No dispersing, no detaining anyone?" I asked a detective
    "Detain who and for what. All are well-behaved, no hooligans, misbehaviour or provocation of any sort here. Very decent crowd. These are common citizens, not the hardcore ones from political parties who are out to create problems," said the detective whose team was tasked to identify and detain troublemakers.
    It was then reality was getting quite clear after making small chat with some two dozen people at the rally over two days.
    Unlike past rallies which were more "politically inclined", the thousands who braved rain and shine to attend the Bersih 4 rally were exasperated Malaysians who were concerned and affected by "bread and butter" issues.
    They were unfazed by the rally ban announced by police and the Home Ministry. They were not bothered about politics nor were they aligned to any political party.
    They were concerned about the economic decline, rising costs and losing the lifestyle they had worked hard for.
    Sources from police intelligence units assigned to monitor the goings-on of the rally shared: "The ones who showed up are mostly the middle to high income ones. We can tell. Go take a look at their cars at the parking lots, luxury cars everywhere.
    There is a large number of businessmen who are fed-up with GST eating into their income," they said.

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