Malaysia: Bersih March

July 9, 2011

The leading edge of the march that was headed toward KLCC and Petronas Towers.
They were denied permission to hold their at rally at KL's Merdeka Stadium.

Today thousands of Malaysians participated in an (unauthorized, illegal) protest for election reform called "Bersih 2.0." Bersih means "clean" in Malay. Although the marches and rallies were peaceful, over 1,600 were arrested on a wide variety of charges and the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse some crowds.  (See Reuters story here.)

Noon Saturday with nearly empty streets. Jalan Bukit Bintang and
Sultan Ismail are usually the scene of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I got on the monorail (shown here) to safely explore elsewhere.

Police had set up roadblocks on major highways leading into
the city to minimize protesters access to the city center.
(This and the next two photos were taken from monorail
with raindrops on the windows.)

Police and police trucks were stationed in many major intersections.

I saw some small crowds that may be been prevented from joining
the large march and seemed to be milling about without direction.

I rode the monorail from end to end twice.  It did not stop
at several stations in the vicinity of the march routes. Then,
at the Sentral end, people were no longer allowed to board.
As you can see, the monorail was empty, except for the
driver and me as it then left Sentral.

On a whim I got off the monorail at Bukit Nanas, rather than return to Bukit Bintang.  Suddenly, from the vista of the monorail platform I saw thousands of Malaysians chanting and marching down Jalan Ampang (peacefully and without any police blockades here).  I had stumbled on one of the larger marches the moment it had reached Bukit Nanas.

One of my first views from the monorail station platform above Jalan Ampang.

Each time I thought this march had ended yet another throng would come along.

A young man waves a yellow t-shirt in the shadow of the Petronas Towers.
(Some people were arrested or detained for wearing the Bersih yellow t-shirts.)

The rally near the Petronas Towers (KLCC).

For more on the demonstration and the government's extensive efforts to stop it, see (sympathetic to the protestors) here. For the pro-government perspective, see any KL newspaper such as the Straits-Times, the Sun, and the Star.