Democratic Promise

On the 30th of August 2012, I went down to Dataran Merdeka to photograph the Janji Demokrasi demonstration! This was at 9:11pm, when the demonstration was to start at 10pm.

From above.

I took the STAR LRT to Bandaraya and back, to get overhead shots.

Spotted in Masjid Jamek LRT station.

On the way there, there were banners, with the new Merdeka Day logo, with the Kementerian Penerangan Komunikasi & Kebudayaan’s sanction below.

Vuvuzelas seem to be the new way to celebrate.

From the inside – we could enter from this end. This was at 9:36pm.

The crowd wasn’t very dense, and the yellow shirts were not that common yet.

And yet, more were trickling in.

This was the barricaded part. Right: The same sign was at the fountain area (that was free access.)

The field was also barricaded.

A few steps back, I overheard Urdu.

A few more steps back, was a satellite dish, I assume for the outside broadcast (since there was a RTM van nearby.)

So why were the other people there? The official Merdeka Day countdown celebrations were at Bukit Jalil Stadium.

Kids in yellow, too. I wonder if they would ever learn about this in the history textbooks.

A lot more Indians spotted around. Some said that Bersih 3.0 didn’t have that many Indians, but I saw plenty this time!

The headband actually says 1Merdeka.

People being interviewed.

People recording and being prepared for tear gas, perhaps – however, there were no Federal Reserve Unit trucks around!

I don’t know what’s going on here.

The Sang Saka Malaya. Do you remember what the East India Company‘s flag looked like? (There are more flags that look similar over at Wikipedia’s Flag of the United States page.)

Selangorkini’s Merdeka spread, with the Pakatan-endorsed Merdeka Day logo. Because really, nobody likes the official 2012 Merdeka Day logo. You can Google it.

This is how you know you’re at Dataran Merdeka.

It’s always nice to see many different variations of yellow shirts, but all with that common theme of Bersih – for free and fair elections.

Janji Demokrasi was organized by Gabungan Janji, a coalition of 47-49 NGOs, with some of the organizing committee also being part of the Bersih 2.0 steering committee. Plus the gathering was initially announced as Janji Bersih, that was then rebranded Janji Demokrasi, but not many picked up on that, as you’ll see in T-shirts later…

Some dude educating tourists about the movement.

10:17pm, and you could see a lot more people around, much more in yellow, too.

Lots of bikes parked.

I didn’t know the DBKL had such sporty motorbikes!


It was 11pm and A. Samad Said, National Laureate, was not at the fountain, where he was supposed to recite the poem he had wrote for this gathering.

And so, the Unit Amal PAS led the crowd across the road…

The traffic passing there took pictures of us, too!

Crossing Jalan Tun Perak.

Another road to cross.

And then we reached Dataran DBKL, where A. Samad Said was to recite his poem.

A sea of yellow was already there!

That familiar feeling, from Bersih 3.0 – yellow as far as the eye could see!

On the other side, of course, being the DBKL officers on guard.

One big flag.

Then, we could spot the organizing committee – Maria Chin, and A. Samad Said sitting down.

Hishamuddin Rais was the emcee of the night, telling everybody to sit down.

The loudspeaker didn’t work well, making people talk in dubstep, so somebody brought a sound system, which didn’t seem to be used, either.

We all waited for 11:30pm…

…where A. Samad Said would recite his poem.

He spoke rather softly, plus the loudspeaker wasn’t very loud or clear – so Hishamuddin Rais recited the poem again for everyone’s benefit.

Spotted in the crowd: Mat Sabu, PAS Deputy President, and Tian Chua, National Vice President of PKR.

Mat Sabu took the loudspeaker for a while, to sing Sudirman’s Tanggal 31. Quite a classic Merdeka song, compared to the classic failure that was Janji Ditepati, universally panned, not just by pro-opposition people but by seemingly fence-sitting people as well. Fortunately that was it – no campaign speech whatsoever.

The Jingga 13 group also started singing the Janji Dicapati chorus, but they were barely audible.

This guy was loud and clear. He said “Janji“, to which the crowd responded with “Demokrasi!” (And later, “Bersih!“)

A Chinese guy wearing his support for PAS, an Islamist political party. Let it be known that there are Chinese people, who are not Muslims, who read the Harakah, a newspaper printed by PAS.

This Punjabi’s turban caught my attention. Also note the Guy Fawkes mask on a fellow Punjabi!

Then, Kill The Bill people gave out balloons…

…which we had to blow ourselves…

…to celebrate midnight, just 2 minutes away! We were all asked to sit down, which we did…

…but at midnight, everybody stood up! That was pretty epic.

Chants of Janji Demokrasi started again. A group nearby started singing Negaraku, the National Anthem of Malaysia.

This dude has a cool hat.

Kill The Bill people cleaning up, picking up garbage.


I then crossed the road back to Dataran Merdeka. There was a much bigger crowd now!

I had never noticed this here before.

Medic on a motorbike.

Michelle Hoo interviewing people.

Meanwhile, back near the fountain, there was some reassigning.

A kid with a Ben 10 balloon. I wonder who the firemen grew up idolizing.

I took the LRT to Titiwangsa to grab a cab. The LRT was open up to 1am for Merdeka Day.

And now, a bonus section – the various shirts! Here are two unrelated guys with A. Samad Said T-shirts.

On Jalan Tun Perak, DIY shirts.

Top-left was the first version I saw, using the Pakatan Rakyat-endorsed logo. Top-right says 709 – notice how demonstrations against the government typically have 3 numbers?

709 = July 9th 2011, Bersih 2.0 Rally
428 = April 28th 2012, Bersih 3.0 Rally
308 = 30th August 2012, Janji Demokrasi Rally
901 = 9th January 2012, Free Anwar Rally

I wonder why this wasn’t called the 830 rally, then. My personal preference is YYYY/MM/DD because nobody uses YYYY/DD/MM, so there is no confusion there, plus going in order of size, it makes sense, while MM/DD/YYYY does not.

These shirts were sold near the waterfall at Jalan Tun Perak. Not sure where the right-most shirt came from, though.

This is the same shirt, with 308 and the Pakatan Rakyat-endorsed logo, but much bigger. I have to say the logo is very visually stimulating.

And finally, a unique take – Bersih in Jawi!

Disappointingly, I did not see a single shirt having the official Merdeka Day 2012 logo, nor the Bersih 4.0 (unrelated to Bersih 2.0) logo! Would’ve loved to get a picture of that just for the record.

The gathering passed without incident, which was great. I have to thank the sensibility of the government for not ordering the police and FRU to chase us out, when it really is our constitutional right to gather. Also, only two people were arrested, for lighting fireworks (in case anybody forgot, fireworks are supposed to be illegal in Malaysia.)

If you have decided you want to do more for Malaysia, be a Polling/Counting Agent!

Sign up for the training here. It is open to all citizens of Malaysia – you don’t need to be a member of any political party or the Election Commission, to participate in making sure the elections are free and fair! I’ve gone for the course myself, and learned so much about the electoral system.

More here:
Bersih 3.0
Vote For Cleanliness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *