Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Where Tear Gas and Street Protests Meet

Over the weekend, while certain people were busy being unintentionally ignorant of the going ons around them, the streets of KL were abuzz with a peaceful rally against the ISA. Now, the keyword here is peaceful, and although we know that things can turn from peaceful to nasty in a matter of seconds (for instance the lion which seems so docile but suddenly decides to attack it's trainer), the police actually started with roadblocks on Friday night itself.

On Saturday, apparently even more police personnel were deployed to various areas where the rally was supposed to take place and there was even backing up from the FRU. It's interesting to note that demonstrations/rallies/marches/protests are deemed illegal in this beloved nation of ours, and therefore despite the numerous press releases and the assurance that this one was going to be peaceful (after all, it is a large group of people marching to give a memorandum to the palace) it was still illegal, and therefore the people who took part in it had water cannons and tear gas thrown at them even before they got unruly. In the end over 400 people were arrested for peaceful marching.

As I was scanning through the many articles written on my favourite socio-political website - Malaysia Today, and one particular article caught my eye. It states that the Minister of the Federal Territory claims that the losses for that day, due to the rally costs RM 100 million to RM 200 million. Of course this claim was quietly but efficiently put down by RPK himself like a hired assassin doing an incredibly clean job.

Now, regardless if that is the exact quantity of losses or not, what crosses my mind is that if the police and/or FRU had not fired the water cannons and tear gas, the rally or march to the palace would have been peaceful and the memorandum would have been passed on to the palace without any skirmish or arrests. Even the people not involved in the march would have been brave enough to visit the area and go shopping at the shops that allegedly lost their income that Saturday. It's like how violence has to be met with violence. If the people in the rally had turned unruly then only the use of tear gas or the water cannons can be justified. Why make an unruly mob out of something that was not-really-a-mob in the first place? Just a thought to ponder upon...

Note: This post was written mostly yesterday afternoon and had to be put on hold while I did other things that took me far away from the internet. The continuation today seems a bit weird as I had actually forgotten what this post was really supposed to be about!

11 comments:

  1. My thoughts exactly. Why water cannons or tear gas on a bloody peaceful march?

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  2. It's probably got to do with showing who's in power...

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  3. These people are morons la

    As optimistics as i try to remain, things just continue to look so bleak for this country....

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  4. Yeah, I know what you mean... kinda feel the same way too. But this is home Sigh...

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  5. Having arranged venue's for demonstration ? Does that make sense ? Naturally , all peaceful protest and demonstration takes place in public vicinity - rite ?

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  6. I don't know... what I heard is that there are rules for gatherings... you sort of need a permit, which they requested for, but wasn't granted.

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  7. MLK used to teach peaceful marching. But it's got to be difficult to maintain a peaceful and calm attitude when police are pelting you with water canons and such. It would be hard to simply keep marching, or just sit down peacefully without reacting to it.

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  8. That's exactly it... if they weren't pelted with water cannons and tear gas... it would remain peaceful

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  9. I really think this ISA law needs to be reformed and peaceful protest allowed. It's really not that unreasonable when you think about it. That ISA thing can totally be abused and free speech is a right everyone should have.

    We have a bunch of laws here called the Patriot Act made after 9/11 that started going down this road of detaining people who might be deemed a terrorist but there were all sorts of stories of guys that did nothing getting locked up indefinitely. There was also a good erosion of our civil liberties like the government being able to spy on anyone without getting approval from a court. You have to prove there is good cause to put someone under surveillance and the court must grant law enforcement the right to proceed.

    Unfortunately our last president felt he was a king and could throw all of this out the window which is sad because we are supposed to be a "free" country.

    While these nasty things started the government has relaxed a bit on them and while it will never go back to what it was, it is not as bad as it was under Bush.

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  10. Oh, yes... I've heard of the spying on people. I doubt it has come to that here, but I can't say for sure, either.

    Totally agree on the right to free speech...

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