It was a brilliant night, weather wise… people power and youth spirits in the air..
A call for a peaceful gathering at our own Freedom Square, Dataran Merdeka – a symbol of our country’s independence, one of the most popular spot for locals and tourists to visit… especially on a night like this… for a group of people to speak freely of current socio-political issues, especially one that is hotly debated by individuals, civil society members and politicians.
What did the Government do? An order was given DBKL and PDRM combined to seal off the Dataran for “safety reasons”. Not even visiting families (long weekend) and tourists were allowed in.
When we pressed for reasons – we were audience to a 20-min comical duet between a PDRM ASP and the DBKL officer-on-duty telling us the other party was in charge… some samples of the duet dialogue:
- “PDRM only closes the road… the Dataran is governed by DBKL.”
- “DBKL rules say cannot enter between 1am and 6am (normally) but tonight the PDRM officers are here and they say no one can enter”
In the end, we were referred to a duet of boards hidden by the branches of an overgrown tree… a board that dates “1972”. The DBKL officer tried his best to read off it… the best he could do was telling us “so you see, we have rules…. you can enter the Dataran before 1am… but PDRM say tonight cannot” he started the chorus again without missing a beat.
Bottomline – this group of intelligent and spirited citizen, made largely of youths whose peers are either busy at home on social media sites or downloading bootlegs, or at some parties taking candy pictures of themselves, was denied a platform once again.
Not to be deterred, they found their space at the footsteps of the Bar Council. The KL People’s Assembly by the Occupy Dataran group did convene afterall – peacefully, democratically, intelligently and with extremely constructive discussions and arguments.
Shame on DBKL. Shame that it wasn’t allowed under the biggest flag pole standing.