After departing home at around 10:00 to reach Masjid Jamek at around 11:00, only to move around from there to Central Market and later to Dataran Merdeka to witness myself the heavy police presence in the city, getting drenched in the rain while waiting for the rallying crowd, following the crowd all the way to Istana Negara, in the rain until the crowd broke up at around 17:00, and then visiting the Hang Tuah police station, simply just curious how the detained participants of the rally were doing, and reaching home at round 19:00, I am tired. I cannot feel my legs and my brain is simply refusing to churn out words. Thus, photos.

Some rights reserved.

The police blocked off all entry points into Dataran Merdeka. Though I was not there when it happened, this was close to the spot where tear gas was launched. The rain might be a blessing because it rendered the tear gas useless. Rumors had it that up to 80 people were detained. TV3 says 15. Al Jazeera, 23. According to Sonia Randhawa, at least 20.

The above photo was taken around 13:00, just before the cloud decided to release everything on this fair earth.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

There were 2 copters hovering around Dataran Merdaka. Both kept circling the Padang, probably updating the police force of the situation on the ground with an bird’s eye view. For your information, Dataran Merdaka was full of members of the Federal Reserve Unit, reporters but not participants of the rally. Oh, yeah, and me!

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

The day started ominously cloudy. It rained from early morning. The rain took a pause only to pour much heavier later. I was caught in the rain and took shelter at the Kuala Lumpur Library which sits right next to the Royal Selangor Club. At around 14:00, it started to relent and noise could be hear from across the field.

In retrospect, I have no doubt that that noise was associated with the confrontation between the crowd and the police which involved tear gas. I rushed across the Padang to find out what was going on. It turned out, the crowd had decided to skip Dataran Merdaka, which was to be the main rallying point, and head to the final destination, Istana Negara instead. That decision had probably kept the rally from becoming violent.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams.

Given the Prime Minister “saya pantang dicabar” warning, honestly, I feared for the worst but things went smoothly and that convinced me to join the crowd instead of following them behind the police line, which was what I did earlier. I do not know how did I get the privilege but I think, if one has a DSLR, some liberty stands mightily in the face of tyranny. The police seemed to give me some kind of respect, probably mistaken me as a reporter. Or maybe, they had a larger cake to deal with. But boy, at the Istana, some said it was 20,000, some 40,000, others insisted there were 80,000 people. Whatever it was, the size of the crowd was sufficiently large, as far as the eye could see, for one to say it was uncountable!

Li Tsin overhead an old lady remarked: MILLIONS!


Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

Here, the Police is seen rushing to reinforce the human wall. Quite unnecessary since the crowd was remarkably organized and disciplined.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams.

A line formed by the organizer of the rally separated the crowd from the police line, thus preventing any untoward and unwanted incident from happening. I was amazingly impressed and confident that this would be a peaceful rally, which it was. I felt safe mingling with both the crowd and the police.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

A rally participant recording a speech made by somebody.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

Police. Yes, I crossed the police line with impunity countless of times. And I love my D40 even more for that. Okay, okay. I am getting over myself.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

A leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Khalid Ibrahim with a songkok wrapped with a yellow cloth, and in the background with the turban, Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS, were preparing to hand over the Bersih memorandum to a representative of the King.


Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams.

Look at the boots! Awesome. I want one.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams.

Yeah, it was starting to become boring. This is clear through my mediocre effort at creative photography, whatever that is supposed to mean.

Some rights reserved. By Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams

They passed the memorandum to the Istana. In the photo, Anwar Ibrahim, Khalid Ibrahim (Are these guys brothers? I know, I know. That is lame.) and Lim Kit Siang.

If you notice, the photos have some kind of glow. I did not do any digital editing to cause that; it was the rain. The rainwater affected the lens; on whether for better or for worse, I am quite unsure.

More photos later. For now, I am grateful for having a bed to lie on.

Before I end, I would really love to hear what the highly intelligent-insulting Information Minister has to say. Previously, he shouted out loud that it is ridiculous to expect a large groups of people to congregate to support the rally. He should be eating his words right now. But I bet he is used to that, anyway.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

p/s — a video on the tear gas episode (via):

Wow. The scene is quite different than the one I had gone through today.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

pp/s — for photos on the clash at Masjid Jamek, Kickdefella was there.

20 Responses to “[1441] Of from the frontline of Bersih rally”

  1. on 10 Nov 2007 at 22:57 Shazana

    Lovely! I was hoping to find an actual participants account of the event and here it is! I hope you dont mind me linking your blog in my post.

    I love your account of it all and how you stress how orderly and peaceful the rally was! Certainly much less scandalous than the account from TV3, RTM and NTV7! See my blog for links to the news cast from our mainstream media. 🙂 I will be checking your blog out more regularly!

    Btw, thank you for being there for all of us who werent able to and showing the government we mean business! 😀

  2. on 10 Nov 2007 at 23:10 Klaw

    I wish you were there at Masjid Jamek to take more of those awesome pics!

  3. […] like 1998 election in Malaysia? (Clearer Al Jazeera video there. Can see Jeff Ooi more clearly :D) [1441] Of from the frontline of Bersih rally (great pics! read how the photographer managed to travel pass police lines) Yellow March summarized […]

  4. on 10 Nov 2007 at 23:47 as

    good job there.

    baden-wuerttemberg, germany

  5. […] Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim Nathaniel Tan Maddruid […]

  6. […] local blogosphere is amassed with photos of the Bersih rally and I have contributed my share. But how was it like before the rally took place, before the tear gas, before the peaceful march to […]

  7. […] not shocking, but funny the Singaporean media is blacking out on this. […]

  8. on 12 Nov 2007 at 00:16 moo_t

    Make sure you have a dry box for your camera. Or put camera inside an air tied with dried beads, that will remove moisture from the rain.
    Moisture is bad for your camera and lens.

  9. […] is mine. The full picture was first published on Saturday, November 10 2007. This is the original […]

  10. […] Part I – Of from the frontline of Bersih rally […]

  11. on 16 Nov 2007 at 16:39 Mika

    Well, for many thousand it was a peaceful Demo,..For many thousand it was illegal. For many more its needed. But have us have to do stuck between teh crossfire. So many business was screwed up. tourist running helter,..Shows being cancellds. Ppl lost money. Ppl got stuck in the tfaffic for hours. HOw does this all answers or add up. For a simple symbolic gesture. I think its better the top ppl from each party just drive to istana to give the memo.,,Simple..


  12. on 19 Nov 2007 at 13:17 Hantu Laut

    You had good coverage of the event.Nice pics too.

    Now that the Agong and other rulers had distant themselves from the rally and the petition, it’s foregone conclusion that the rally had not achieved its purpose and desired objective.It is very likely the petition would be filed away or end up in the litter bin.

  13. on 23 Nov 2007 at 18:23 Hafiz Noor Shams

    Dear Mika,

    You can definitely blame the police for that. Most of the congestion was caused by police road blocks.

    Dear Hantu,

    I don’t support having the royalty involved. The reason why I was there is because of the threat the PM issued against liberty.

  14. […] the UK embassy, trying to get the British attention, and maybe trying to achieve the same success Bersih had achieved just weeks earlier. It amuses me while at the same thing, there is a slight disgust in me; I am not […]

  15. […] One of the more angering statements, to me personally, was made by a minister that had the cheek to claim that no force was used to disperse protesting crowd whereas on the contrary, clearly caught on camera, tear gas and water […]

  16. […] took a lot of shots at the BERSIH rally (here and here as well) and Faisal for some reason like one of it. And so, one of my photos is featured […]

  17. […] Gambar Encik Anwar ketika Himpinan BERSIH di atas aku ambil dari Hafiz . tyvm Sphere: Related […]

  18. […] that makes 12,000 protesters at around 15:00 hours Malaysian time, making it much smaller than Bersih, but large nonetheless but Malaysian […]

  19. […] That happened in 2007. I went down to the streets to protest not because I was enamored by Bersih, but because restriction to freedom of assembly. […]

  20. […] enjoyed photographing the police in their balaclava and boots during the first Bersih protest. It was no different last […]