This started to sound like a sequel to a movie but Wong Chin Huat was still there in lock-up and the pressure had to be maintained. Unfortunately, a smaller group of people joined this one compared to the day before although as the night progressed, more members of the society including politically prominent individuals started to show up as the whole affairs dragged well into the wee morning. By the time I left close to 03:00, it had not ended yet.
This time, the police was more polite the first time around, requesting those attending the vigil to disperse. “I would advise you to disperse”. This is very unlike Wednesday when an officer shouted like a mad man.
Polite or not, for the police, it did not work. Freedom of assembly is a natural right of every free citizen, especially so when the assembly is peaceful and pose no hazard to public safety. Given this stance which I think many at the vigil hold, the next chapter was written in stone. The polite officer resigned and a mad man took over. A number of people wearing black and holding lit candles were arrested when the mad man announced to the world of his arrival. Others, they were simply far enough to be out of reach of the officers. They lived to fight for another day, so to speak. Well, another hour actually.
Anyway, I was there early and I can tell you that those who were arrested were prepared to be arrested. “If they want to arrest us, let’s not run away. Let’s be arrested.”
I said to myself, yeah, right. Speak for yourself. I do not want to be detained. I am a chicken, with capital C.
So, they were in and some who were not taken in hang around farther down the road, waiting for something else to happen. Some began contacting people for help. Not long thereafter, legal counsels started to show up.
A friend much earlier joked about the itinerary of the whole affairs. Meet at 20:30 at Brickfields’ KFC restaurant, at 21:00 at the police station and 21:30 inside the lock-up. For those that got arrested, that was more or less the schedule.
Just like yesterday after the first arrest, the size of crowd started to swell again. Not close to the size of the day before not respectable enough to probably make the police nervous.
I sort of relish having a protest organized in front of a police district headquarters. Though the group was small yesterday, it showed a sign that civil society is willing to rise up, even at the doorstep of a lion’s den. Well, I am exaggerating but you know what I mean.
MP Loh Gwo-Burne showed up. And then state assembly person Elizabeth Wong. DAP assembly person Jenice Lee who was arrested earlier in Ipoh for the big party showed up too, I think. The last elected official that was there as far as I know was none other than the man himself, MP Tian Chua.
I do not remember who joked about this but somebody highlighted that on Wednesday, DAP was on duty. On Thursday, PKR. Maybe PAS would come on Friday.
On Wednesday, lawyers were allowed to go in. It was a different story for yesterday; the police was playing hardball. They simply did not want to let the lawyers to see the detainees. These lawyers apparently were young guns on-the-job training to handle emergency arrests. So, they were new and likely inexperienced. That is probably the reason why the police stood their ground rather well.
A senior lawyer was there and she refused to interfere since she wanted to get these young legal aid lawyers to gain some valuable experience.
For those arrested earlier, they were placed in an open space. There was a roof and the space was well-lit but it was open nonetheless.
Probably out of frustration not given access to legal counsel, the detainees started the best thing of all: protesting inside of police compound!
How about that?
If you cannot protest outside, protest inside. Haha!
They sang Negaraku and the crowd outside joined them in chorus.
That got the police angry and there was a commotion after that. Shouting match occurred. People outside who were still free were worried about the whole effect but in the end, nothing happened. It was just one of those harmless confrontations that put pressure on the police to release them.
The police did not buy that and instead, the detainees were relocated to rooms inside some building.
And, the second round of arrest came.
“Saya bagi anda 3 minit untuk bersurai.”
“Saya bagi anda 2 minit untuk bersurai.”
In a typical maniacal manner of a mad man, when time was up, he shouted, “Tangkap! Tangkap!”
In retrospect, the episode was funny but when I was there, it was not as hilarious as I currently find it.
We left and decided that we should adjourned to a nearby eatery and come back later if the detainees continued to be detained. But some legal counsels on duty stayed behind and unfortunately, they were pull in by the police.
We only found out about this when we were happy drinking out tea and coke in a restaurant. The senior lawyer was fuming mad upon finding this out. Some of us thought the police were making a big mistake. I suppose, for the legal aid lawyers, they all got more than they bargained for.
Around midnight, we decided to return to the police station. More lawyers from the Bar Council came and they launched 5 police reports against the police.
Around this time, Tian Chua showed up. And god, he looked terribly tired but seemed ready to be arrested yet again in KL after being arrested in Ipoh earlier.
Nothing eventful happened after that. I was up close to 03:00 until I decided I needed my sleep.
The next day, heh, as in right now, hundreds of lawyers are protesting in front of the Jalan Duta Courthouse.
A domino effect is underway and we will see where will this lead us.