Well, throw together the incendiary elements of a growing angry mob of rather passionate people who think they’ve been wronged, with the instruments of law and order. Throw in a hot day, tear gas and water cannon. Lethal cocktail, don’t you think?
Well, I wasn’t in the thick of the Hindraf rally much. After a 2am recce of a drive that took me to the Ampang -Tun Razak area and finding roadbloks and increasing police presence, I went back home.
It was almost 9.30 am when I approached the area again, later in the morning. Blocked. Here, there everywhere. Can’t get good shots, I discovered to my chagrin.
Close Encounters of the Cop Kind
So, I walked through the Ampang Hilir area. A bunch of guys and girls started following me. Felt uncomfortable. Had to go through some bushes to get to Lanson Place on Jalan Ampang.
Asked a girl that looked about 25 why is she headed to the rally. She said, “We must show them. Because we are quiet they climb on our head.” (Translated from Tamil to English, I know…kinda lose colour)”Indonesians who came here 10-15 years ago have more rights than us Indians.” This gave me pause.
We continued walking but the cops caught up to us at Jalan Langgak Golf. One Inspector Azmizal started his tongue-lashing, his anger worsened by reports of his men being injured, or so he said.
He collected the all our identity cards and singled me out, apparently since I stood out.
“Why are you here? I could have you hauled to the station on suspicion of rioting. What’s wrong with you people? why can’t you stay at home? Isn’t it peaceful enough for you here? You still get food to eat right? I have Indians on my team too, you know. All we want is to keep order. You want to join the mob and get injured, or injure more people?”
“You, why are you with these people? You look educated enough, why are you part of this?” All these questions coming from the guy with hardly a word in from me edgewise.
How do I tell the guy I was there to take pictures? We bloggers aren’t exactly the darlings of the establishment are we? So I shut my trap and heard him out. I asked him if I was being arrested. He stared and said, no. But please leave the area, he added.
Having gotten my IC back, I made a few calls and sat down for a while. Then I got up and the cops in the Land Rover started following me. So I stopped and asked, “Can I tumpang?”
An East Malaysian riot cop made space and so I got my first ride in cop transport. In between I had a brief conversation. Told the guy I wanted to take pics for my blog. “You don’t seem like part of the gang, he said.” Then they dropped me.
I resumed my walk. Then another roadblock and being questioned by another cop. Explained and continued, and found I lost the way and backtracked. One of the riot cops said, “Come sit down”.
Joined him and he pointed me towards a bottle of water. Had a grateful gulp and started chatting. He bitched somewhat about being there since 1am the previous night. Hadn’t had a meal, and sitting there in the blazing late-morning sun waiting for orders isn’t the best way to spend a Sunday, he opined.
“But these guys la!” Tell me, what the hell is all these about? Can’t you guys go through proper channels? Everything ada saluran.” I told him if they were being heard, there wouldn’t be a crowd this size today, and he and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Another cop kept saying his “kepala masuk air” moved over to the side and napped on his backpack. (below) Poor guy.
Yet another, wanted to take my pic and I returned the favour. Here’s a pic of him taking picture of me.
I continued talking with the cop, and got up close and personal with a tear gas canister. It says made by Federal Laboratories, Pennsylvania. Hmm….
I thanked the friendly cop for the water and went back to my car. A second round from Jalan Semarak and I got to Yap Kwan Seng where the sting of tear gas lingers.
Got to KLCC and consumed by the surge of crowd. It was like Thaipusam, but no one was smiling, and the mood is somber. Cries go up and down.
These pics are from Stephen Francis. My camera battery kong by then.
I saw all there was to see. Asked the balding guy next to me why he came. He said, “This concerns all of us Indians doesn’t it?”
I asked a saree clad auntie being led by a younger girl where she’s from. She said Sungai Buloh. Why was she there? “We have to come out. Maika (MIC) people have neglected us.”
Hmm…I was thinking….It’s not just about the temples is it.
I went home. An Indian neighbour asked me. “If we go and sign, do we get RM1 million each?”
I laughed….without much humour. Sheesh!!