Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

Sultan Ismail and Bukit Bintang

High traffic.

Order in chaos.

Vigil against ISA at Bukit Aman

Yet another protest.

This time, it is against the use of the Internal Security Act by the government against a reporter who reported a racially sensitive statement made by a politician belonging to the ruling coalition, against an opposition Member of Parliament who has nothing to do with the accusation which the government made against her and a blogger who allegedly insulted Islam (whereas in fact, he only insulted those in power).

So, I was there and as promised, more photos from the protest.

The police wanted the crowd to disperse and so, the crowd did so by walking toward a car park down the stream. From a gathering, it became a procession.

I was there early but had trouble joining the crowd because a police officer prevented me to do so. But being somewhat an anarchist myself, I found another way in. There, the police with shield were surrounding surrounding the crowd.

And so we walked and walked and made a couple of stops here and there, much to the annoyance of the men in blue.

Every time we made a stop, there would be a speech and reporters swarmed the speaker.

But we moved on when the police warned us to disperse yet again. They even escorted us with cars! I thought only politicians get police escort! Ambulances, fire fuck trucks and civilians like you and me do not usually get police escort! What a privilege!

There were really not kidding about escorting us!

The cat and mouse game lasted for over an hour. In the end, the police decided to mingle with us, trying to give the impression that they were willing to arrest folks at the vigil. These officers which kept distance from the vigil participants moved in concert toward the crowd. The balaclava clad personnel was nowhere in sight however. I am unsure where were the police special branch people were though.

After a while, the whole game was getting tiring and in stages, the crowd was getting thinner and thinner and thinner…

It was time to go home.

Protesting the Kelana Jaya protest for being dull

With all the rumors and hypes, I thought Sunday should be one of those days when history is written in the most dramatic manner. With talks of army on the streets, road blocks almost to the proportion of Bersih rally, police threats and the boast of expected one million attendees, the event turned out to be quite a dull affair.

I was filled with excitement at the prospect of a state of emergency or a military coup d’tat. Nat’s appeal only fueled my expectation of “something big” would be happening.

Today however, July 6, was sort of kiddies stuff which definitely unworthy of my time. I should have stayed at home and play Civilization 4 instead. But there I was and this is a story of how I spent my dull Sunday’s evening.

In fact, it is so dull that I’ll just let the pictures tell you what happened.

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Okay, it was noisy from the outside and I thought there were many people. Of course, I didn’t expect one million turn out because the organizer has a knack for exaggeration but I did expect the number to match Bersih. So, I was all excited. Still, the compound looked nothing compared to Titiwangsa Lake Garden on a weekend.

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“Wow. They have a stage!”, I yelled to my imaginary friends.

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And then I saw the crowd. “Is this a revolution?” Clearly, an oversize party on a Sunday’s evening but nothing inspiring. Hell, all that commies talk made the event less inspiring but I did prepare myself for those leftist propaganda but I was shocked at the disappointing turnout.

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Or maybe, being a libertarian and unimpressed with socialism, I am biased and critical of the gathering because there were actually more people around.

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Yup. Add another 10s to the equation and you get the amount of people there, which at maximum was definitely 1,000,000 minus 999,999 people. Okay, not quite but I’m sure that you get the idea.

The protest was so uninspiring — did I tell you earlier that it was boring? &mdash that a guy could lay down on oh so sexily.

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Maybe it was just me. Maybe I came at the wrong time. Reports have it that there were 10,000 earlier in the morning.

But I sort of told myself, the number should swell when Anwar Ibrahim comes. At first, the organizer said the man would show up after Maghrib. That probably meant 20:00. Then the organizer said the man would show up after Isyak. That probably meant 21:00.

But I told myself, screw it. I am going home. Besides, the populist speeches were starting to get on nerve.

Tearing down the grandeur of Stadium Merdeka

“Abang 24 jam awal.”

Oh, the pain of mistake. I have been anticipating Farish Noor’s third public lecture so much that I decided to turn up a day earlier. I took a look at my Facebook with my Blackberry and I couldn’t believe it that I overlooked the word “tomorrow” so clearly printed on the screen. All that effort of getting out of bed and traveling all the way to the heart of the city now seemed so utterly wasted.

But I was determined to make the best of it and I decided to take a walk with my camera. And it is amazing how small the city is. I guess being “older” always requires redefinition, just like my experience with the Perdana Lake Garden.

Starting from the Central Market, I walked toward Leboh Ampang to marvel at facade of buildings built back during colonial times. While on H. S. Lee, I spotted the famed Petaling Street and I didn’t recall when the last time I had walked through the street was. It could have been years and so, I decided to visit it.

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This was about 16:00 when the situation was not too disorderly. There were still activities but mainly on the sides. There was ample room to walk in the middle of the covered street, which westerners seemingly amused at the street culture.

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Another kind of foreigners were being hunted by the RELA team. A group of this voluntary force together with two or three police officers was seen checking for possible illegal immigrants. I saw several foreigners were taken away, possibly for failure to produce documentation.

It didn’t take long before I reached the end of the street and I had a choice of heading back to the train station for home or walk on. Since it was a blue sky day, I told myself, “what the heck, it’s a beautiful day.”

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Soon, after walking along Hang Jebat, just after Jalan Sultan, I found myself at the Merdeka Stadium. I walked around its parameter, looking for ways to get in. It seemed deserted and so, I didn’t think going to through front entrance would help.

While searching for ways to get in, I remember long ago when I watched a soccer match in the stadium. Those were the glory days of the stadium when it was actually useful. Back then, the stadium felt huge but today, it looked like some insignificant stadium.

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I had wanted to climb over but with buses and cars could be seen passing by, I gave up the idea. Besides, a police district headquarters was nearby. With a sign “intruder will be prosecuted” standing silent nearby, I thought spending the night in a lockup is not my idea of spending the weekend. So, I almost gave up up I got to the front entrance with a door opened, guarded only by a security officer whom was clearly bored.

It didn’t take much to get in.

At the gallery, there were collages of images, supposedly telling the story of this country. Like so many thing in Malaysia, the collages tell the story of UMNO. Sacrifices of other groups were total ignored. Even during the August 31 celebration held at the stadium which saw Tunku Abdul Rahman officially declaring a free Malaya, it was an UMNO event, not that of Malaysia. I’m only glad that many Malaysians thought the arrogant UMNO a lesson on March 8.

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I walked across the field. The condition befits a ran down community field. Without the sign “Stadium Merdeka”, I would think this was just another pathetic stadium deserved to be torn down for redevelopment.

I felt sad that I felt nothing when I stood in the middle. The magic of the stadium had died long before I ever thought of this moment. Despite priding myself for being a rational person and refused to label myself as a nationalist, I could sometimes find myself taken by notable moments. A speech, an injustice, etc. I know that I am always moved by anything appealing to the idea of liberty. Yet, there was the stadium, here I was in it, at best indifferent, at worst disgusted at the fate of the building. An old shophouse in Kluang would awe me more than Stadium Merdeka.

Really, if this is the state of the stadium, a redevelopment exercise is overdue.

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On the other side of the field, two persons were dismantling metal pieces for unknown reason. They seemed to be employed by the management of the stadium, which is Perbadanan Nasional Berhad.

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At the stage, I saw the shadow of the wording of Stadium Merdeka down on the field. That perhaps the best part of the whole excursion. I walked down and looked up toward the wording. The sun was shining right behind it, with the cloud blocking part of the sun and blue sky everywhere else. It was beautiful and I wanted to memorialize it.

Alas, the camera died on me.

“Well, time to go home.”

More photos from the KLAB 2008

There were a few prominent individuals at the festival. At least, the ones that I recognized. Some are friends while others, while, I’d like to know them more closely due to their interesting character.

The most respectable there was probably the celebrated sasterawan negara, A. Samad Said.

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The Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera, Penang was there.

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Friend and the youngest candidate for the previous general election, Nik Nazmi Assemblyman for Seri Setia, Selangor was there.

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Kam Raslan was there.

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I honestly can’t remember her name.

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Amir Muhammad!

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Eli the Amazon warrior the Assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan, Selangor was there. So was Nat.

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Nat is supposed to blog here. But he hasn’t posted anything here yet. For that, I think I’m entitled to post this up here for the world to see. Hey, hello Philly!

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Sharon and Marina were there.

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And the controversial Astora Jabat was there too.

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Kuala Lumpur Alternative Book Festival

My Facebook looks busy due to various invitation to events related to the ongoing Kuala Lumpur Alternative Book Festival at the Central Market Annexe. Since there are people that actually took the effort to invite me via Facebook, I thought, I might as well give it a visit. Besides, I unfortunately decided not to go to Endau-Rompin with my fellow hikers in the Nature Society. So, my weekends were empty and attending the book fest would be a good way to fill it.

The KLAB, as people are calling it, sells mostly local publications. More importantly, it is held in conjunctions of World Press Freedom Day. But who cares for all that. I was there for the chicks.

My first stop was the Center for Independent Journalism’s exhibition. Guess what are they bitching about? No idea? Let me give you a clue:

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Biased MSM.

There was a talk associated with that and Jacky Ann Surin was one of the speakers. She basically repeated her presentation at BUM which was held earlier on Thursday. Oh, didn’t I tell you that I attended the second BUM on Thursday?

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The other speaker was Zainon Ahmad, the editor at The Sun.

Next, Faisal launched a BERSIH coffee table book.

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I took a lot of shots at the BERSIH rally (here and here as well) and Faisal for some reason like one of it. So, one of my photos is featured in the book and because of that, I got a complementary book. Hurrah!

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General scene early on.

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Then, it was Farish Noor’s public lecture #2.

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Farish: I’M MACHO. LOOK AT ME! ROAR!

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OMG! The girl in red is CUTE!

Olympic torch relay in KL

I was there when the relay started at Dataran Merdeka and I was there yet again to witness the torch relay on Jalan P. Ramlee under the heavy rain.

It started quite angrily for me. I had wanted to protest peacefully with no intention to disrupt the relay. Along with me was a camera and a placard with the word “liberty” written on it. Volunteers from China were not happy and forcefully took my placard away after physically harassing me. And so, I found out the hard way how violent these volunteers were. I’ve already described my experience at KL for a Free Tibet (and photos of another protester being harassed by the abrasive volunteers from China; my words there are harsh because I don’t take coercive kindly) and so, I shall refrain from retelling the story here.

But more photos are in order.

I caught a glimpse of the flame. First was at the Dataran Merdaka:

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Security was really tight. Apparently, the security personnel were there to protect PRC volunteers, not the Malaysian citizens or everybody at large. While pro-Beijing people were allowed to display their political placards, those sympathetic to Tibet were not. In fact, when the peaceful pro-Tibet protesters were assaulted by the PRC volunteers/thugs, the police arrested the pro-Tibet protesters, not the ones committing the assault. The police did nothing to stop the pro-Beijing thugs from harassing those that disagree with PRC’s policies.

I shouted FREE TIBET when the Torch passed in front of my and was quickly grabbed from behind by a volunteer from the PRC. Mind you, not by a Malaysian police officer but a PRC volunteer instead. I pushed him back and made a complaint to an officer: the officer did nothing however but thanks the heaven that the PRC thug walked off, probably thinking that he might get himself in trouble if he continued to apply force against me in front of police officers, however timid these officers were against these PRC nationals.

Once the Torch left the Dataran Merdeka, I went straight to the Petronas Twin Towers to get another corru board to make a brand new placard just like the one robbed from me by the PRC volunteers.

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The previous banner was like this, only prettier since I had time to do it properly:

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This one took me less than 10 minutes to complete. That board is about the size of an A3 paper.

It rained after that but the Torch runner went on regardless.

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This guy went off the bus to wait from the runner with a lit torch.

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Notice the police presence. This must be the most protested Olympics in recent memory.

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There were isolated small protests and all of them were forcefully suppressed by PRC volunteers with unsanctioned coercion power. Your truly was one of the victims and he got himself cited in an article in a local daily:

Another scuffle also ensued before the run in Dataran Merdeka when a group of Chinese national students took away a banner emblazoned with the word “Liberty” from a 24-year-old woman known only as Gek.

It was learnt that the group hit Gek’s head at least three times and chanted “One world, one dream, one China”.

The situation was defused when another woman calmed the members down and told them not to create trouble.

It was revealed later that the banner did not belong to Gek, but to Hafiz Noor Shams, 26, who said he came to the torch relay “to witness things”.

Asked on his intentions in bringing such a banner, Hafiz said that it was only a one-word banner.

“But they are free to interpret however they like,” he said, admitting that he was pro-Tibet. [Minor hiccups and a handful of arrests during run. The Star. April 22 2008]

I don’t like like how The Star reported the news. Like what Marina said to me through IM, it is as if I admitted to a crime. But after all, The Star is owned by a local political party, MCA after all. The Star was heavily biased but the recent election was a kick in the groin for them.

In any case, exercising liberty is not a crime. Harassment is.

Others whom plan to protest at other cities should be careful when these PRC volunteers are around. They have no qualm about using force to silent you. These volunteers which lived under suppressed society (Malaysians are suppressed too but at least, we are fighting back) have developed fascist culture of suppression where diversity of opinion are not acceptable. They know nothing about free speech or peaceful expression.

Protest peacefully though. Let teach them a leason or two about the real meaning of peace.

Pasar Keramat polling station, Titiwangsa, KL

The Gurney station was unexciting. There were some flags flying, a cafe right outside the station for a decent typical KL breakfast but that was about it. The crowd was pretty mild.

So, I decided to drive to Pasar Keramat and see what was going there. While the traffic to Gurney was smooth, the journey to Pasar Keramat caused my blood pressure to rise up slightly. The streets were congested: congestion is indeed typical around Pasar Keramat no thanks to it sitting on the veins that connect the northeast part of KL to the city center as well as the bad traffic flow planning there there but the election made it worse.

Being a local, I knew which route to take to outsmart the traffic and I found myself in front of the Pasar Keramat station in no time.

Unlike at Gurney, the booths of the BN and PAS were erected side by side.

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What? Looks empty you say?

Just to the right:

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They were shouting various slogans until a police officer requested them to tone down. The BN team was quiet, probably since they know Keramat is not one of those areas which BN could call it a stronghold.

Some took the campaigning to the middle of the street.

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Anwar Ibrahim was also there…:

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The BN candidate, Aziz Jamaludin casted his vote at here.

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He is the guy in blue shirt with a songkok on.

Close to 1PM, it started to drizzle and so, I went home.

Gurney polling station in Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur

A brand new day perfect for a brand new government! Just perfect of an election!

This is the first election that I am directly participating in as a voter. It is not the first election which I am eligible to vote; that election was the 2004 election. I didn’t vote then because I was in Ann Arbor and voting was a real hassle for me and many other Malaysians there. We would have to travel to Chicago; the distance was a turn off. Anyway, I was more attracted to the US Presidential election rather than the 2004 Malaysian general election. But now, I am back in Malaysia.

I hate lining up and I decided to wake up early today. After having my morning bath, I gathered my cell, mp3 player and camera to record the atmosphere. I took the car and drove it for a short distance to a school off Gurney Road. Yes, there is a Gurney Road in KL. Penang can go to hell.

Lines at Gurney

Polling stations opened at 8AM and I was there at around 9AM and I was surprise to find that the center was not packed at all. The voting process which I had to go through lasted barely 15 minutes and that mostly caused by me walking slowly to observe the surrounding. There were possible 7 streams and my stream had just me in the line. I was listening to the radio on my mp3 player and I found out that voters usually come between 10AM and 1PM. So, I hang around the place, shooting photos.

But Stream 1 and 2 were filled with old people and Stream 7 was mostly young people. Hmm… I wonder why.

The police threw me out because of that. LOL! Kindly of course. It turned out, camera is not allowed here. And the police seemed nervous, which is kind of odd. And thought I was a journalist! LOL! I love my DSLR. I should have made myself a tag and labeled it “KL Metblog”.

So, I walked around to see anything worth shooting. First in my mind was the entrance to the street. It was so full of banners! BN specifically.

Undilah BN

And in Jawi! It says Undilah Barisan Nasional.

Undilah Barisan Nasional?

At the entrance.

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The BN booth.

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PAS booth. This is situated at the other end of the road and less strategic than that of BN’s.

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All in all, the situation was pretty calm and boring. Definitely less exciting than the atmosphere at Pasar Keramat. That is for the next entry!

Architectural icons

Montreal laments how it lacks icon that the world could identify the city with. For the Kuala Lumpur, we already have an international icon and it is the Petronas Twin Towers. Without it, KL would join the rank of Montreal. I am sure that was what former PM Mahathir Mohamed was thinking in building the towers. To me however, the icon of KL will forever be the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
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