The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Uprising Rally) or simply KL 112 was organised by political leaders from Pakatan Rakyat and non-partisan members of various civil society groups as a final showcase of election issues before the 13th general election is called by June. After going to the last Bersih 3.0 rally and experiencing the fun of being shot with tear gas and running aimlessly on the streets of KL, I actually look forward for this kind of rally again. So I made plans with several of my Twitter friends to meet up in KL to take part in this historic rally.
Anticipating traffic gridlock and roadblocks, I took the LRT at Bukit Jalil and got out at Masjid Jamek station in downtown KL. There were noticeably less police presence this time around since it is now not illegal to have public gatherings (it was illegal before, shocking I know). Nevertheless they still decided to close off Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square) for whatever reason which only they know. I guess they didn't get the memo that this rally was to be held at Stadium Merdeka about a mile away.
So what was this rally all about? It is basically to highlight all the people's issues and grievance against the government, be it clean and fair election, stopping Lynas, Felda public listing, petroleum royalty demand, free ISA detainees, woman's right and more. This is our last chance to do so before the general election somewhere between March and June this year.
I was joined by my Twitter friends which I just met once before at Central Market and made our way to Stadium Merdeka.
So these are some of the people's grievance - phantom voters and giving out ICs to foreigners.
Oil royalty demand.
United against animal cruelty (aww so cute).
Fair and free election and rising living cost.
Unanswered love for Lisa Surihani.
Looking for long lost friend and national football matters.
Or just goofing around and having fun.
The crowd was huge but peaceful and orderly. It warms my heart to see the carnival-like atmosphere as rally-goers of all race and backgrounds come together for a cause. Unlike UMNO's General Assembly which were telecast live for a week on TV, these people were not paid to come here. Instead they all spent their own money, energy and time to come here today. After seeing all this, I truly believe we had a good chance of having a new government later this year, God-willing.
Had the government allowed us to assemble peacefully 4 years ago, all the tear-gassing, water-cannoning, police brutality and violent arrest would be so unnecessary. KL 112 proved that the people is mature and capable of gathering in a civil and disciplined manner. Businesses in the city thrived from all the extra visitors to KL today and since KL is already jammed 5 days a week, another day of traffic doesn't make that much of a difference.
The 30,000 capacity, open seating Stadium Merdeka was packed to the brim with people of all races, gender , walk of life and they travel from all over Malaysia to show their displeasure of the ruling government.
My generous estimate would be 45,000 crowd at any one time in the stadium, 10,000 more outside the stadium and if you count the visitors coming and going the whole day they would add up to around 400,000 people.
Ibrahim Suffian of Merdeka Center noted that apart from showcasing the capability of organizers this rally also shows the enthusiasm and energy of the forces opposing the government, underlining the fact that the coming polls contents will no dount be the toughest that the ruling coalition will face in its history.
As we entered the stadium, I got separated from my friends and the huge crowd rendered the mobile phone network useless. So after listening to some speeches and touring the stadium, I decided to go home around 3:30 PM. This time around there were no long queue for train ticket, no running away from tear gas, water-canon and brutal police forces. For once I can walk gleefully to the train station (which was not closed) to make my way home.
Although I kind of miss the smell of tear-gas in the evening, I still can't forget how dreadful it was. Thankfully we had none of that this time around. KL 112 was truly a resounding success. UMNO-owned TV3 station spun the news later tonight and called it Shamsidar rally after Azmin Ali's wife and focused on the few dozen people bringing kids to the assembly. Seriously, they could not go any lower than that. It's no wonder I stopped watching Buletin Utama years ago.