Probably, nobody knew if Wong Chin Huat was actually locked up in Brickfields police district headquarters but that did not turn people off. Why Brickfields was a mystery of the day. I joked to a friend that it could have been that somebody threw a dice and decided which poor officers would have to suffer a candlelight vigil. Another question is, who was the dice thrower?
One thing was certain. For some people, it did not matter. What mattered was that Wong Chin Huat should be freed.
Over 50 people (I would not be surprised if the number reached 100) including journalists showed up eventually although at first, there were few people.
What do you expect anyway? It was supposed to start at 21:00 Malaysian time. No. That does not refer to UTC+8 mind you.
Those that showed up early got the honor of being arrested. Altogether nine of them all in the first round of arrest. Merely showing up probably did not cause their arrest; lighting a candle did that. Candles were also the reason why a second group endured arrest. Included in the second group was MP for Serdang. In total, 14 individuals were, well, placed under the care of the Malaysian Royal Police.
The way the arrest was conducted was funny in a sense. An officer, probably a high ranking officer because he brought with him a stick with white tip, did shout a warning. He said if people do not disperse by the count of 3, the police will arrest everybody.
He did count, only too fast. 1… 3. Barely a second passed before somebody could register, “oh, maybe it is time to leave”. Neurons do not quite work at light speed, I suppose.
A lawyer did come later and went in to discuss with the police about the first arrest. Once done, the lawyer answered questions from reporters. According to him, the police justified the arrest as a mean to discourage an even larger crowd from gathering in front of the police station.
Also interesting was that the police did not allow the lawyer to meet the detainees. They reasoned that the detainees did not specifically request for a lawyer. This is probably an important point: if you ever get arrested by the police, make it clear to them that you want to speak to a legal counsel.
It was newsworthy enough that Malaysiakini published the whole thing on their website. It was newsworthy because it could be a precursor to what will happen tomorrow.
That scare tactics could have worked, if the arrest did not happen too early. Not too many people were there in the first place and many came late.
The same tactic was successful the second time. The police threatened to arrest anybody that was still standing in front of the station, unless the crowd dispersed by the count of 10. Being the chickenshits that these peaceful protesters are (me included), we dispersed. But like in any small peaceful protest or vigil or call it whatever you want that I have been to, crowd re-gathered nearby.
There was a game of cat-and-mouse for a time but nothing untoward really happened after that. No more arrest. And after all that, all were released before midnight.
If anything, this little protest will prove tame. Tomorrow in Ipoh will be another story.
In any case, it will be unfair to equate the cause of Brickfields’ little party with the cause of Ipoh’s party, which is expected to be massive . I do still take defecting as a right. It is not immoral.
Nevertheless, after all been said and done, politically, I would like to see an election in Perak. That would tie up a lot of loose end and allow us to move forward.
 — The police tonight arrested 14 people who had gathered at the Brickfields police station in support of activist Wong Chin Huat, but they were all released hours later. [Vigil: Police detain 14, all freed hours later. Wong Teck Chi . Malaysiakini. May 7 2009]