The view from across the frontlines on the other side of the barbed wire fence was too calm to be true.
We had arrived at the Royal Selangor Club by 1pm and entered the Club upon presenting our membership cards. Donned in our royal club colours, we watched the serene vista from the Long Bar which was far from revealing.
What lay ahead of us was the pristine and carefully manicured grounds of the Padang. While the concertina of coiled barbed wire lay between heaven and hell, one thing was sure: not a single marcher managed to get to the Padang. For all intents and purposes, it remained untouched by Bersih.
Perhaps, because it was clean enough!
By 2.30pm, we realised we were sitting in the eye of the storm, fortressed by over 1,000 riot police and nobody was able to enter or leave the Club. The distant roar of the pressing crowd echoed across the green plain from both sides.
A little after 3pm came the thundering shots of tear gas; after a while we lost count how many times.
Soon after, the marchers got an unceremonial march by the police along the side of the historic field enroute to a waiting police truck parked behind the Selangor Club. As water guns rained down on the crowd from the trucks in front, they were trapped by a pre-meditated spray of tear gas canisters wafting down from the monorail embankment above. A telling sign of this move was when a big group of officers ran away from the frontline, knowing what was to come. A cheap trick by any book.
We watched nervously as the police trooped the arrested marchers to the mobile unit that was going to ferry them all to Pulapol (Pusat Latihan Polis). A senior officer was seen smacking both sides of the face of some protestors as if to awaken them, but it looked by a severe face clap deftly executed like a martial arts stunt. As more than 200 demonstrators were pushed and shoved forward, it was a sorry picture for any Malaysian to see. They were dragged by their collars (standard operating procedure I was told), some were kicked, cursed and slapped along the way.
Young, old, of all races and creed. Some walking barefoot in the sweltering sun and scalding road. As they passed a
terrifying pack of police officers on both sides at the Jalan Raja junction, they were shouted at and whatever else beyond our view.
We watched them with sadness, bitterness and helplessness, and secretly wished we had been on the other side of the barricade.