Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Disabilities Play A Prominent Role In Bersih - During And After.

DON'T KNOW if you guys noticed but disability seemed to not only have played a conspicuous part in the recent "outlawed" Bersih rally on July 9 but it still continues to make a major impact days after the event.

Pakatan leader Anwar Ibrahim was the most obvious one when he was injured in the demonstrations last Saturday.

News reports and eye-witnesses say teargas from the riot police was aimed directly at the opposition leader. 

Anwar and his bodyguard who tried to shield him were hit; the latter more seriously that required a surgery that went on for several hours to correct the damages that he sustained.

The good news is none of the incidents were fatal. 

Happily Anwar is back on the scene again - albeit in a neck brace.

PAS Deputy Chief Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu) also experienced a close shave with death in the demo that put him in a wheelchair. 

He claimed that a police lorry rammed into a motorcycle that he was riding on during the incident. 

The good news with him is that he is also back in the scene, though in a wheelchair that appears to be temporary.   
Both leaders were seen with strong spirits at a political speech event in Penang last night.
Sadly there was even a death on the day of the demo. A nearing elderly gentleman Baharudin Ahmad collapsed and died during the protests after being hit with teargas by the riot police, news reports say.

And who could ignore that disabled protesters in the street rally. Although they weren't in large groups, those who went for the rally tell me that their presence was very much noted.

Then there is the report of the current hospitalisation of Sungei Siput Member of Parliament Dr Michael Jeyakumar at the National Heart Centre in Kuala Lumpur for heart trouble.
Dr Jeyakumar, who is related to this blogger, is detained under the Emergency Ordinance Act along with several others. He was arrested before the Bersih march.  

Here are reports of all these stories for those who might have missed it. All news reports are from Malaysiakini.    
Thousands throng 'Bersih 3.0' ceramah in Penang
Susan Loone
Jul 12, 11
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They have been accused of hijacking the July 9 rally as calls of 'reformasi' - PKR's battle cry - reverberated on the streets of Kuala Lumpur instead of cries of 'Bersih' for electoral reforms.

Yet more than 5,000 turned up to throw a hero's welcome for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and PAS deputy chief Mohamad Sabu at the Seberang Jaya Expo site last night, a ceramah which the latter described as 'Bersih 3.0'.

penang bersih 3.0 rally mat sabu and anwar ibrahimBoth leaders, who arrived within 20 minutes of each other, made a grand entrance - Anwar entered sporting a neck brace and had to assisted as he headed for the stage, while Mohamad was in a wheelchair and was hauled up onto the platform by several security personnel.

A media frenzy ensued, with photographers jostling to take the best shot of the duo - their first appearance after their harrowing experience at the Bersih rally which included being tear-gassed and sustaining injuries.

Afraid that their leaders may sustain further hurt due to all the shoving, the emcee had to gently tick off the media for their enthusiasm and pleaded for calmness.

Judging by the mood of the multiracial crowd last night, the jubilation of those who joined the banned gathering in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday spilled over into this Malay epicentre of Penang.

During his session, Anwar spoke briefly, but was noticeably less energetic than usual, obviously due to the pain on his neck and back he suffered following the KL Sentral underpass incident, which PKR had described as a "criminal act".

He managed, however, to lambast Najib Razak for accusing him of faking his injuries, saying that the prime minister had "no sense of humanity" for belittling others when they are down.

"I am forced to wear this neck brace - it was the doctor's orders after he saw how bad the injury was to my neck and back... I did not ask for it," he said.

"Najib would even like everyone to think that I had purposely gone for (slipped disc) surgery in Munich so that I can come home and show the people," he chided the prime minister.

Renewed enthusiasm
Meanwhile, the crowd displayed a rare sense of renewed enthusiasm for the Bersih campaign by responding boisterously to their leaders' comments, clapping loudly or offering a remark of two.

The mixed crowd of young and older men, women and children, sat on the grass patch and the more experienced ones rolled out their own mats, while it was business as usual for the operators of a nearby pasar malam.

penang bersih 3.0 rally participant with yellow shirtBefore the ceramah begun, many who just returned from the Bersih 2.0 rally on Saturday, were heard eagerly sharing their stories with friends and acquaintances.

Tales after tales of police brutality against peaceful protesters such as physical assault and the firing of tear gas directly into a retreating crowd which they witnessed "with my own eyes" were heard.

Although Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai and the police have refused to accept responsibility for the firing tear gas into the Tung Shin hospital near Puduraya, a Seberang Perai municipal councillor Oon Neow Aun said he was at the scene and witnessed the incident.

Police also arrested a shocking figure of 1,667 for taking part in illegal rallies and defying police orders to disperse, all of whom were released that night.

Government leaders, especially Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein had refuted claims that the police force was brutal.

One-minute silence for Baharuddin

Meanwhile, Mohamad, who is widely known as Mat Sabu, arrived from Langkawi in the midst of a one-minute silent for Baharuddin Ahmad - spouse of PKR Setiawangsa women's chief Rusni Melan - who died of a heart attack after he was chased by police during the rally.

The police have denied involvement in his death, saying that Baharuddin did not die out of complications arising from exposure to tear gas.

penang bersih 3.0 rally lim guan eng and other speakersPenang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who initiated the silent memorial said it pained him to see his friends injured as the result of the police's reaction against the protesters.

"But nothing can be more painful than to know of Baharuddin's death, so let us remember him," he said.

"And no matter how much pain they are suffering, these two leaders have come... this is the kind of leaders we want, those who would go through thick and thin with the rakyat," he added, referring to Mat Sabu and Anwar.

Despite having to go for leg surgery this Friday, Mat Sabu, who spoke in his wheelchair, was in high spirits as he entertained the crowd.

"Najib lies! Najib lies! Najib lies!" shouted Mat Sabu, asking the crowd to echo him several times as he related a series of incidences where Najib "flip-flopped" in his handling of the Bersih rally.

However, despite all the bad blood between the opposition and the police, Mat Sabu said "all is not lost yet".

He advised the force not to be partisan since "if tomorrow BN is gone, you will still be around".

He urged the police to protect the rakyat, not Umno.

"But if you protect Umno, if they fall, you will fall also," he added.

"It is still not too late to act professionally in your duties... do not work for Umno, which is rotting internally."

'Tear gas gun aimed directly at Anwar'
S Pathmawathy
Jul 12, 11
10 friends can read this story for free
The police stood prepared with their anti-riot weapons, with one of them aiming his tear gas gun at Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. That's what his bodyguard Fayyadh Afiq saw, and he immediately took action.

As he heard the order to fire, Fayyadh said he pulled Anwar away.

Numbed by high dosages of medication, he said his left cheek, on which a metal gas canister landed when the police fired, has not stopped throbbing.

NONERecalling the incident, he said: “We exited KL Sentral and proceeded marching through the enclosed shelter at the back, where the buses stop.

“Other bodyguards and I were with Anwar and a few other leaders were walking in the front, forming a long column, when I heard a faint sound.

“I am sure it came from an officer using a loudhailer, but with everyone shouting around us, I could hardly hear a thing,” Fayyadh told Malaysiakini.

He then turned towards the riot squad, assembled and ready, and did not need to take a second glance when he spotted the weapon pointed at Anwar.

And then it happened. Fayyadh said he pulled Anwar to the left and immediately felt an excruciating pain as if he was given a heavy blow on his face, followed by a stinging, piercing sensation all over his body from the tear gas.

NONEThe 25-year-old, who sustained a broken cheekbone, added that all he could think about was the safety of his boss as they fled the plumes of tear gas.

“We tried to rush Anwar to safety, we ran towards KL Sentral and that's where he tripped over a pothole and fell.

As they were trapped in the middle, with both exits leading to Jalan Tun Sambanthan sealed off by police, the only way back into the central transit hub was the narrow escalator and staircase, recounted Fayyadh.
Shah Alam MP receives six stitches

After they managed to manoeuvre out of the chaotic situation, he said, they retreated to Anwar's rented suite at Hilton Hotel, located at another corner of the transportation hub.

NONE“Once up in the suite, we wanted to head to the hospital because a few of us were injured from the melee. But the police guarding the hotel entrance refused to let us out,” he said, muttering profanities under his breath.

After approximately an hour, they managed to wriggle through the police on duty and made their way to a nearby private hospital for treatment.

NONEFayyadh underwent surgery yesterday, with a titanium plate inserted to stabilise his face bone.

Also injured was Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad of PAS, who said one of the tear gas canisters fired directly at the crowd hit him on the head.

Khalid, who sustained six stitches on his head, said the riot police at KL Sentral's public bus and airport shuttle route sandwiched him, along with the top leaders of Pakatan and Bersih 2.0, as well as the protesters.

NONE“We stopped when we saw the FRU policemen block our way, and we also noticed the FRU moving in behind us. Without warning, they started shooting tear gas and they were aiming at the demonstrators.

“I turned around to look at the FRU (members) behind us, and suddenly my spectacles flew and there was blood everywhere,” Khalid told a press conference yesterday.

“The doctor who checked me was surprised that the wound was a very clean cut, just like a slice with a knife. This would only happen if tear gas was aimed directly at the people,” Khalid said.

Protesters trapped

These claims were also backed by PKR vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and N Surendran, who were at the scene and recounted similar descriptions about the police crackdown on the Bersih 2.0 rally participants.

ipd kl bersih 090711 nurul izzahNurul had said that police trapped the demonstrators within the KL Sentral underpass, on both sides and fired tear gas from both ends.

Aside from Anwar and Khalid, several top Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat leaders were at KL Sentral during the rally on Saturday, including Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan, steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah, PAS president Hadi Awang and DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.

They had gathered at the KL Sentral vicinity as they were all among the 91 barred from every other key location for protesters to gather, including, Jalan Syed Putra, Jalan Istana, Jalan Bukit Petaling, Jalan Bellamy and the area surrounding Istana Negara leading towards Stadium Merdeka.

Despite heavy surveillance and a complete lockdown in the capital city, ten of thousands traversed the streets, with a large majority in support of Bersih's cause for electoral reform, while a small fraction, made up of Umno Youth members, marched in a counter rally.

NONEBersih 2.0 organisers declared their protest a success, claiming an estimated 50,000 people had marched despite police warnings, and where 1,667 people were arrested.

The government, on the other hand, lauded the rest of Malaysians for not taking part in the street demonstration, and said only 5,000 to 6,000 took part in the Bersih rally.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak rejected the allegations of violence on the part of the police and accused Anwar of masterminding the rally and manipulating rally organisers to bolster his ambition to become prime minister.

“Just hit by a little tear gas ... and his photo and video were on YouTube as though he was beaten up, and landed in the hospital,” Najib had ridiculed at an Umno-Malay NGO gathering at the Putra World Trade Centre on Sunday.

Mat Sabu: Police Land Rover rammed me
Joseph Sipalan
Jul 11, 11
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PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu today claimed police rammed a truck into the motorbike he was riding en-route to join Bersih 2.0 protesters last Saturday.

NONEVisiting the Selangor state assembly building in a wheelchair, the usually jovial leader took a more sombre tone as he recounted his harrowing experience.

"I was on a motorbike on the way to Masjid Negara, when suddenly a Land Rover rammed into us. I didn't know it was a police Land Rover at the time," he told journalists at a press conference.

"The impact threw me off and I was rolling on the ground. They then brought me into the Land Rover and took me to a clinic in Jinjang, which referred me to the hospital."

Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, said he was eventually released for outpatient treatment, but decided to seek further checks at the Selangor Medical Centre, which confirmed a far worse injury than initially thought.

"I was suffering from constant pain in my leg, so I went for a check and the doctor confirmed I am suffering from a torn ligament and now I will have to go for an operation this Friday to put in plates," he said, indicating to his right knee.

Also present at the press conference was PAS' Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, who was also allegedly injured on the back of his head by a tear gas canister fired directly at the crowd at KL Sentral.

Khalid, who got six stitches on his head, claimed riot police at the station's airport bus route sandwiched him, along with Pakatan and Bersih 2.0 top leaders and protesters, as they attempted to march to Stadium Merdeka.

'My spectacles flew'

"We stopped when we saw FRU blocking the way, and we also noticed FRU moving in behind us. Without warning, they started shooting tear gas and they were aiming at the demonstrators.

"I turned around to look at the FRU (members) behind us, and suddenly my spectacles flew and there was blood everywhere," he said.

NONEKhalid said he was then brought in for treatment, claiming that even the doctor who treated his wound was shocked to see the extent of his injuries.

"The doctor who checked me was surprised that the wound was very clean cut, just like (getting sliced by) a knife. This would only happen if tear gas was aimed directly at people," he claimed.

Khalid was incredulous over the police's behaviour in allegedly brutalising Bersih 2.0 protesters, particularly for the alleged assault on Mat Sabu.

"What is this? It is as if he (Mat Sabu) is a big time drug smuggler. He's lucky only his leg was injured."

Khalid also slammed the police for allegedly firing tear gas and a water cannons into the compound of the Tung Shin hospital along Jalan Pudu, accusing the men in blue of acting like the "protectors of BN".

"Don't take sides. Stop behaving as defenders of the BN government... Your job is to take care of the rakyat," he said.

'Najib a liar'

Mat Sabu also had little good to say of the police's actions on Saturday, calling them a bunch of "gangsters".

NONEBut his harshest criticism was reserved for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, whom he called a "liar" for back-tracking on his promise to allow the rally to be held at a stadium of Bersih's choosing.

"First he says we can use any stadium, and when we ask to meet him, he denies our request. Najib is a liar, and he is not qualified to lead Malaysia."

Mat Sabu declined to comment when asked if he would urge Pakatan to demand for Najib's resignation, though he had no qualms launching more barbs at the premier.

"(Resigning) is up to him (Najib). But he is a liar. At least say you will investigate (claims of police brutality)... He is only qualified to be Rosmah (Mansor)'s husband," he said in a snide reference the self-declared First Lady of Malaysia.

500 attend Bersih rally supporter's burial
Abdul Rahim Sabri
Jul 10, 11
10 friends can read this story for free
The late Baharudin Ahmad, who passed away in the midst of yesterday's police assault on the Bersih 2.0 rally in the heart of Kuala Lumpur yesterday, was buried at 12.55pm today at Lembah Keramat Muslim cemetery in Taman Seri Keramat Tengah, Kuala Lumpur.
funeral baharudin crowdIt was reported that up to 500 mourners accompanied the funeral procession to the cemetery.

Baharudin, 58, was reportedly with his family at the KLCC leg of the Bersih gathering yesterday when he collapsed after being hit with tear gas that was being fired by the riot police to quell the rally.

He was rushed to Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) and was declared dead shortly after.
The police have claimed that Baharudin had suffered a heart attack and denied that he had died from exposure to tear gas.
Baharudin was a PAS member, his wife, Rusni Melan, is PKR Wanita Setiawangsa branch chief.
Cops interrupt procession
Roughly 500 mourners followed the funeral procession to the burial grounds, including NGO members and Pakatan Rakyat and Bersih 2.0 leaders.

funeral baharudin vanAmongst them were PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar, Hulu Kelang rep Shaari Sungib and Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) chairperson Badrul Hisham Shahrin.
Prayers and chants of “Allahu akbar” punctuated the duration of the procession.

Along the way three police cars on separate occasions interrupted, and the mourners responded chanting “Allahu akbar” to the cops.

Earlier, many Pakatan and Bersih leaders paid their respects at Surau Al-Muqarrabin close to the deceased's home in Keramat, Kuala Lumpur as early as 9am.

funeral baharudin bersihPKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and daughter and PKR veep Nurul Izzah Anwar, PAS deputy Mohamad Sabu and VPs Husam Musa, Mahfuz Omar and Bersih 2.0 chair S Ambiga were amongst those present.

The surau was packed when the body was being bathed and prepared for burial, with PKR exco member Badrol Amin Baharon leading the prayers.

The many leaders present were visibly saddened and some were visibly emotional.

In particular Ambiga and Nurul Izzah (below, left and right with Rusni, centre) with wept as they consoled the widow Rusni.

nurul izzah, funeral baharudin“This should not have happened. He (Baharudin) is a hero,” said Ambiga briefly before tears overwhelmed her.

Meanwhile fellow Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah added, “Bersih regrets that this has happened. It shows that the police do not respect the rakyat.”
“The rakyat had the right to be there (at the rally),” she said, choked with tears and unable to continue.

The heavy-handed police action to stop the protestors yesterday were also a talking point during the funeral.

NONESpeaking to reporters after the burial, PKR Wanita VP Gan Pei Nei condemned the police action in particular firing tear gas into Tung Shin hospital at Jln Pudu.

Gan, who is also Rawang assemblyperson, claimed that she was in the hospital compound when the incident took place and witnessed it.

She called on members of the public who had photos of the incident to contact Bersih 2.0 or Pakatan personnel.

Meanwhile Mahfuz and Salahudin Ayub said they were lodging a police report on their detention.

Their lawyers, they said, will attempt to seek redress.

Police stop 10 reps from visiting Jeyakumar at IJN
Nigel Aw
Jul 12, 11
10 friends can read this story for free
The police have stopped nine Pakatan Rakyat MPs and a senator from visiting Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar who had been sent to the National Heart Centre (IJN) during his detention under the Emergency Ordinance.

NONEThe nine MPs - M Manogaran (Teluk Intan), Khalid Samad (Shah Alam), Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor), Tian Chua (Batu), R Sivarasa (Subang), Nurul Izzah Anwar (Pantai Dalam), Hatta Ramli (Kuala Krai), Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah) - and senator S Ramakrishnan, arrived at IJN around 1pm.

They were then told by a doctor that Jeyakumar is under police custody and nobody is allowed to visit him without police approval.

Upon the Pakatan leaders' request, the doctor said he will help to negotiate with the police in getting the permission.
Special Branch officers stationed in front of Jeyakumar's room, however, insisted that the parliamentarians refer the matter with his superiors at the police federal headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur, over the matter.
psm declare asset 120309 jeyakumarDespite protracted negotiations with a senior officer over the phone, however, Manogaran said he was told the police need an offical letter of request to visit Jeyakumar (right), who is from Parti Sosialis Malysia (PSM).
Even the parliamentarians' request for the police to open the door to Jeyakumar's room and allow them to wave to the detainee from outside was denied.
The visibly peeved opposition politicians then signed a hastily-written letter and passed it to a police officer present to convey to Jeyakumar.
Jeyakumar was taken to the IJN on Saturday and has been warded at its Coronary Care Unit after complaining of heart palpitations.

According to PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan, Jeyakumar was interrogated by five policemen during his detention, which led to mental stress.

The police had allowed his sister to visit him on Sunday.

This is the second time the veteran political and social activist has been taken for medical treatment since his detention in Penang on June 26, along with 29 other PSM members and supporters during the party's 'Udah La Tu... Bersaralah' roadshow.

After an earlier accusation that the PSM activists were suspected of 'waging war against the Agong', six of the activists - including Jeyakumar - were detained under Section 3(1) of the Emergency Ordinance for allegedly threatening public order.

The evidence, police said, lay in various paraphernalia allegedly promoting communism, such as pictures of Bolivian guerrilla Che Guevara and Malayan communist leader Rashid Maidin.

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