Bersih 3.0 was billed as a peaceful assembly, but certain unruly elements ensured it would be remembered as anything but peaceful (pix by Hussein Shaharuddin for The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bersih 3.0 rally, billed as a peaceful demonstration by its organisers and supporters, turned ugly when tempers flared and unruly demonstrators refused to heed warnings from authorities on both sides.
Saying the organisers had "admitted to have lost control" of the rally, the Malaysian Insider reported there had been several incidents of violence from both sides as police fought to regain control of affected areas of Kuala Lumpur.
"About 1,000-odd protestors spread along Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut continued to defy police orders even after the rally ended at 4pm, taunting and jeering the men in blue," the portal reported.
"Things took a violent turn when a police officer was seen dragging a man across Jalan Tun Perak, which resulted in Bersih supporters attacking the police with broken bottles, mineral water bottles and broken concrete slabs," the writer, Shazwan Mustafa Kamal wrote.
"Amid the chaos, rumours are being spread that at least four protesters have died in the melee, with claims that one was even shot dead, further fuelling the crowd’s anger," he further wrote.
The article also reported that a convoy of police vehicles, one of which was carrying KL's mayor, was attacked with bottles and slabs of concrete.
Bersih organisers were reported to have denounced the violence and quickly denied any involvement, saying the incidents were the work of "agent provocateurs".
The portal also reported that protesters had overturned a police car near the Sogo shopping centre.
"Angry protestors later attacked a police car which then crashed into at least two people while trying to flee, wrote the Malaysian Insider's Clara Chooi.
"The angry crowd then surrounded the policemen but volunteers from PKR’s Jingga 13 formed a human shield around the officers, saying 'don’t blame them, it’s not their fault'," Chooi wrote.
Videos of the incident, taken from different angles, appeared on Youtube, with one showing the car veering wildly after it appears the driver was hit by an object thrown by a protester. The car appeared to ram into several people before crashing, after which the driver was taken out of the car by protesters and the car was turned over. At least one person can be seen in the videos being assaulted by protesters.
Several bloggers condemned the violence, with some placing the blame squarely on opposition leaders and protest organisers.
Anonymous blogger Stop the Lies said the violence of agent provocateurs was exacerbated by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who the blogger accused of inciting protesters to storm Dataran Merdeka.
"The crowd was well behaved until they were riled up by Azmin who could not care less about being defiant of the law," the blogger said, adding that he had been told about the incident involving a police car being overturned by witnesses to the act.
"Well this is what Bersih is all about – to promote mob rule, violence and spoiling a nice Saturday afternoon for everyone.," he said.
Kickdefella wrote, "No one was disturbing their sit-in protest, until a stupid group of them caused trouble."
Another blogger, Kuala Lumpur Chronicle, said, "It is so disappointing to see Bersih 3.0 supporters behaving like this. My question is this, will Ambiga Sreenavasan be responsible for all the damage that was done in Kuala Lumpur today?
Syed Akbar Ali wrote a post entitled 'Peaceful Rioting' in his blog Outsyed the Box, in which he said, "Well, this is them. This is what they are good at. Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, I get this feeling that you will pay for this.
Blogger Jiwa Paradox posted a photo and video of the aftermath of an attack on a police officer and said, "See for yourself. Is this what they call peaceful assembly?"
Commenting in Malaysia Today, Lydiawati Osman wrote, "When actual independent supporters of Bersih were the ones marching, we approached the police in peace, we did not desire a confrontation with the police but just wanted the make our point heard loud and clear. If the rally had continued in this spirit, Bersih 3.0 would have a been a real and true success for the people and Government of Malaysia."
"Instead it is a real ‘success’ for Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat as BN will be skewered and vilified by the global media, with CNN etc. smiling with glee at the amount of entertaining footage that Azmin Ali and his band of hoodies has freely provided," she said.