Anti-Toll Demonstration @ Sunway Pyramid January 7, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Economy, Malaysia, Photojournalism.
It was an odd place to pick for a mass demonstration.
Flanked by two lions, supposedly representing the Sphinx, Sunway Pyramid is an Egyptian theme park gone mad/bad. But bring thousands (this time, it wasn’t just the political activists) who stood firm on their right to assemble peaceably against the toll hike, and it became quite an amazing visual.
There were students, workers, trade unionists, off-duty journalists, housewives, fund managers and bloggers. I spotted a TV producer, a friend who works in public relations, a tech-consultant and some friends whom I’d not seen for a while.
Malaysia’s Most Influential Blogger, Jeff Ooi came, looking like ‘Rambo’, armed to the teeth with his D-200, slingbags of lenses and other photography accessories. He was, and is, very, very, *VERY*, upset with the toll-hike.
Dominique Ng, the KeADILan state assemblyman fly all the way to KL from Sarawak to grace the event, together with DAP state assemblyman Teng Cheng Khim and Member of Parliament Mdm Teresa Kok (known also as ‘The Sassy MP”).
The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) president, Syed Shahir and Secretary-general, Rajasegaran were a welcome sight; their dark blue banners held by their ranks. It was rare for trade unions in the past to be found protesting, but the economy moved them out to the streets, since the Government decided they didn’t exist.
Though there were some tense moments, especially when the police refused to allow the crowd to walk to a nearby park, there were no untoward incidents, not a drop of water or a whiff of teargas. As the ranks of the police swelled, more people joined in, from nearby shops and from the mall. The people who had marked it on their diaries to come out today were very very courageous, and I was honoured to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
As I walked through the crowd, I noticed the absence of those who speak too easily of freedom and democracy, but refuse to join, from day one, the very people, or simply, the rakyat, who have adversely affected by burden of hikes of tolls, petrol, water and electricity. Perhaps it was a case of them not being able to feel the pinch; these hikes would hardly had made a dent in their quality of life.
No mass arrests this time, save an irate driver who stopped at a toll-booth to distribute leaflets against the toll. He was kept at the station for a while, but was released around dinner time, thanks to the intervention of Tian Chua and human rights director, Yap, from Suaram.
(Photos later. Something’s wrong with both WordPress and FLickr upload service)