Unfazed by DBKL raids, Bersih prepares for "giant" crowd: Ambulances, 100 docs stand by
In last year's Bersih 2.0, Prime Minister Najib Razak used the police as the 'bad guys' to suppress a public clamoring for free and fair elections. This year, the scapegoat looks to be the Kuala Lumpur City Hall or DBKL.
"Umno-BN is again trying to prvent and disrupt Bersih's peacful gathering on Aprril 28. They are using the DBKL to put obstacles in the way of the people's gathering," human rights lawyer and PKR vice president N Surendran told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Umno continues to prevent electoral reform by obstructing Bersih. We are confident it will be a giant gathering of the rakyat (people) despite all the obstacles thrown by Najib."
Another early morning raid
Early this morning, DBKL officers raided the Dataran Merdeka where activists and student protesters had camped out to protest backsliding democratic rights and a burdensome students loan program. They had done the same over the weekend, arresting two activists on Sunday.
Prior to that, to kick off the scare-mongering, a mob of some 60 to 70 men allegedly linked to Najib's Umno party had attacked the demonstrators in the wee hours of the morning, roughing up even the girl students.
"You would think the authorities would've learnt from last year's mistakes. Once bitten, twice shy doesn't seem to work in Malaysia," Tricia Yeoh, a former political officer with Selangor, said on Twitter.
"We will not be chased off. We will defend our rights to Dataran," said civil reform movement OccupyDataran.
Cat and mouse game
Indeed, Bersih 3.0 co-chairman A Samad Samaid, who is also the national laureate, has already confirmed that despite offers of three other venues in the suburbs, the April 28 rally would proceed at Dataran Merdeka.
"PC by Pak Samad. Emergency meeting last night with NGOs - unanimous decision Duduk Bantah at Dataran Merdeka," said Women's activist and Bersih member Ivy Josiah.
"Pak Samad outlined the chronology of events, now it is only logical that we peacefully assemble at Dataran which has access to public."
At around 6.15am, some 30 DBKL officers had surrounded the protesters' campsite, seized the tents and canopies at about 6:15am when the occupiers were still sleeping. A minor scuffle ensued between the occupiers and the enforcers but there no serious injuries.
The enforcers then cordoned off the campsite area with metal fencing and yellow tape.
100 doctors, security, marshalls in place for a peaceful assembly
But Bersih 3.0 is ploughing straight on with the rally, and expects a strong attendance.
This time around, due to a change in tactics deployed by Najib, Bersih and its supporters too have had to play a different cat-and-mouse game. It is sure of success and has prepared essential facilities for the crowd.
"Bersih has organised ambulances, 100 doctors, security, marshalls, so we can have a safe, peaceful assembly," said Ivy.