Friday, January 11, 2013

Mother of All Rallies

The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat or People's Uprising Rally will be the biggest mass rally the nation will ever see thus far. It will comprise the accumulated display of public displeasure against the ruling government by civil society movements of BERSIH 2.0 (electoral reforms), Himpunan Hijau (anti-LYNAS), Himpunan Oren (anti-FGVH), pro-oil royalty group and free education group. PUR will march from 8 meeting points and gather at the Merdeka Stadium in the heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur from 2-5pm on January 12, 2013, that is tomorrow.

The event organizers estimated a turnout of 1 million participants and promised it will be a peaceful gathering and seeks the police cooperation to ensure no untoward incident. This mass rally is endorsed by the opposition pact, Pakatan Rakyat, and is seen to be its proxy to pressure the Barisan Nasional government to expedite reforms before the upcoming 13th general election due to be called by the latest end of April this year. This rally may be the last attempt to convince the government that if no change is forth-coming they may be taken down unceremoniously through the polling stations.

Will this rally be as peaceful as hoped? Or will it be disastrous like the July 9, 2011 Bersih 2.0 rally or the April 28, 2012 Bersih 3.0 rally? Should the mass turn up of one million or even half of that number flood Kuala Lumpur, anything can happen. Malaysian police have had no experience in dealing with popular protests except through the use of force. Stay tuned for updates.

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Organisers of Saturday's rally adamant about gathering at checkpoints
News 2013-01-11 16:39
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 (Bernama) -- Though advised not to gather at certain points, the organisers of tomorrow's rally in the city appear to be adamant about proceeding with this.

PAS deputy Mohamad Sabu hinted at a new conference here today that they would not heed the police's advice and go ahead and gather at these check points before proceeding to the rally's venue, Stadium Merdeka.

According to him, the locations were identified to make it easier for the participants to head to the venue.

Prior to this, police had asked the opposition, which is organising the rally, to get the participants to only gather at Stadium Negara and not elsewhere in the city.

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Snippets from http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/218741
Crowd beginning to build up in KL ahead of rally
10:08AM Jan 12, 2013
Downtown Kuala Lumpur is expected to be swamped with thousands of Pakatan Rakyat supporters as part of the coalition's final show of force ahead of a crucial general election.

Organisers are hoping that big turnout at the rally - dubbed the People's Uprising Rally - would sway fence-sitters who are likely to vote based on who will likely to form the next federal government.

The Najib government however appeared to be bending over backwards to ensure that there are no untoward incidents, even if the rally theme itself is brazenly revolutionary.

Not only have the authorities allowed Pakatan to rally at the historic and highly symbolic Stadium Merdeka, the police have stated that its target was for "zero casualty" and have pledge to do without the notorious Federal Reserve Unit (riot police).

Rally organisers are putting the authorities' new attitude to the test, with plans to hold multiple street processions ahead of the three-hour rally, which is scheduled to begin at 2pm.

The weather forecast for today is cloudy with a slight chance of showers.

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The Star/Asia News Network
Saturday, Jan 12, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR - The organisers of Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat have pledged to ensure that their rally at Stadium Merdeka will be a peaceful one.

Not only have they agreed to adhere to the 27 conditions set by the police, they said they would deploy about 10,000 people to secure the safety of the participants as they make their way to the stadium.

The organisers agreed with Dang Wangi police chief Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad that the participants would not be provocative or stir up trouble, not bring weapons or dangerous items, not take along children below 15 and not damage public property. Other conditions include requirements that placards and banners must not carry messages that are hateful or seditious.

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From http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/01/12/crowd-starts-building-up-in-kl/

UPDATED 12 NOON
KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of people have started to stream into the nation’s federal capital to participate in the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally at Stadium Merdeka this afternoon.

By noon, eye-witnesses claim that more than 50,000 people have gathered at various spots, all heading towards Stadium Merdeka.

Supporters started gathering as early 4am this morning in anticipation of a police shutdown of the city.

However, there were no police roadblocks anywhere, and in fact the police are helping the people, mostly from out-of-state, giving them directions to where they are supposed to gather.

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From Malaysiakini
2.51pm: According to a Twitter update from the police, the stadium has been filled with about 80,000 people as at 2.45pm.

2.55pm: A lot of people can't get into the stadium and are hanging around the carpark.

The stadium is filled to the rafters. Many resort to climbing on the ticket stands, fence and walls to witness the proceedings.

2.55pm: Jalan Maharajalela – Participants outside the stadium are having a carnival playing on their vuvuzuela trumpets while the cars passing by honk to show support.

3.04pm: The first part programme of the rally has ended. Popular singer Ito from the rock group Blues Gang sings a song called ‘Ubah ini kali lah’ (Let's change this time), followed by a poetry reading by national laureate A Samad Said.

He jokes that he had never expected his poetry could be used as a weapon in this country.

“Even poems have become weapons,” he says in a short speech before reciting his poem ‘On the field of history’.

He adds that he has always wanted to witness a ‘sea of humanity’.

“In my life... I am already 80, I have always dreamed of witnessing a sea of souls. This is it. Change now,” he said.

Below is the picture at the fully packed Stadium at 2.45pm. Notice how peaceful? No riots and no police. Makes you wonder who caused the rampages in previous rallies?



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Snippets from Malaysiakini

1.45pm: Outside Stadium Merdeka - Business has been brisk for hawkers in the vicinity of the stadium. Mansur Ahmad, 56, says he has sold over 500 kebabs.

"Today, I made RM1,000," he beams.

Mansur has also set up a stall at the Kelab Sultan Sulaiman yesterday, where there was pre-rally gathering.

His daughter, Faeza Mansor, 28, who operates a soup noodle business besides Mansur’s kebab stall, says business has been unusually good.

She estimates about 1,000 bowls of soup noodle sold so far.

"My sister doesn't even want to mince the beef anymore. She is too tired to do it!" she joked.

Faeza is being helped by six of her siblings.

3.30pm: Outside the stadium, some participants are seen shaking hands with the police in appreciation of their service. One attendee from Sungai Petani is spotted thanking the police before rushing off to take a bus home. The police replies with a warm smile.

“The police were good today. They did not disrupt our rally compared to the past,” he says.

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From Malaysiandigest.com

4.20pm – Anwar Ibrahim takes centrestage and begins his speech to a packed Stadium Merdeka.

Meanwhile, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee observes the rally to be very peaceful, even "festival-like", he tells MD photojournalist SM Amin when met outside the stadium. "This is proof that a rally can be peaceful if there is no interference from the police," he says.

When put to him that previous rallies were held in the streets, Lim says: "Maybe the method needs to be changed. I guess it is better to hold rallies in stadiums than in the streets."

Praising the police for a job well done, Lim calls for the government to not hinder the public their right to gather like this again.

5pm – Organizers thank the crowd for their attendance and participation. "We will meet again in Putrajaya," pledges the organizer, as its song "Ubah Sekarang" plays over the stadium tannoy while the crowd make their way outside the stadium.

Post Update Note:
Thank God for a peaceful rally. It shows that if properly managed nothing untoward will go wrong. The use of water cannon and tear gas is totally unnecessary. Today's event prove that Malaysians abide by the law of peace, given the chance. The 1 million target wasn't met, the best estimates is around 100,000. Nonetheless the message is clear. Never in the history of Malaysia has so many people deliberately voice their displeasure against the incumbent government.

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