At about 4pm, about 10,000 people had gathered at KLCC, only to be forcibly dispersed by the police.
KUALA LUMPUR: Supporters of Bersih 2.0 clashed with the police at several locations in the city here today. After failing to breach the police cordon at Istana Negara and Stadium Merdeka, the protesters ended up at Petronas Twin Towers at KLCC at about 4pm.
Eye-witnesses said the size of the crowd was about 10,000. They were there addressed by PKR leader Chua Jui Ming and PAS’ Hatta Ramli.
The crowd then sang the Negaraku.
“More people are coming,” said former NUJ president Hata Wahari, who was spotted in the crowd, adding that the crowd stretched for at least five kilometres.
Firing tear gas and spraying chemical-laced water, the police managed to break up the crowd from KLCC. The crowd retreated from KLCC, breaking into smaller groups.
It is unlikely that there would be any more large gatherings today. Bersih leaders are saying that their rally was a succes despite the fact that they have failed to submit a memorandum on electoral reforms to the King.
Flashpoints in the city centre
The protesters had a running battle with the police throughout the day as they were sprayed them with tear gas and chemical-laced water. Many were also arrested.
The downpour at about 3pm failed to dampen the spirit of Bersih supporters who had swelled to about 30,000 scattered over several locations in the federal capital.
The Bersih supporters faced off with the police at several locations but the most severe and violent confrontation happened along Jalan Pudu, in front of the Tung Shin Maternity Hospital.
The police also “raided” the hospital, arresting even those who were sitting there and resting. They charged into the hospital with their batons held high.
The supporters were sandwiched between the police on either side, beaten and had tear gas fired on them before a solution was reached to allow then to proceed to Jalan Sultan.
Numbering from 2,000 to 3,000, the Bersih supporters from the private maternity hospital began chanting several slogans and sang the Negaraku before proceeding with their march.
There was also another showdown at Pasar Seni, better known as Central Market, when Bersih sympathisers had tear gas fired upon them.
Some of them wearing the banned yellow Bersih T-shirts had regrouped after dispersing from Masjid Negara earlier. They had defied police orders to disperse.
The crowd seemed adamant in not wanting to move, and was egging the police to fire canisters of tear gas and water cannons.
Police have also fired tear gas against a group of Bersih supporters at the Klang bus stand, near the Central Market.
It is also learnt that splinter groups were “instructed” to move towards KLCC after the police cordoned off the roads leading to Stadium Negara and Istana Negara.
It is learnt that Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad was injured in the melee that followed in the aftermath of the police action.
Earlier, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was also hurt during a confrontation with the police at KL Hilton Hotel.
Bersih organisers initially wanted to hold their rally at Stadium Merdeka but never got the approval from the stadium authorities and the police.
They also wanted to present a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, calling for free and fair elections in the country.
Chants of “Bersih” and “Hancur BN, Hidup Rakyat” reveberated as many of the protesters wave the Malaysian flag, drawings cheers and applause from onlookers.
Almost 1,000 people have been detained, including opposition leaders from PAS, DAP and PKR. Also detained were several Umno Youth leaders who had their own rally against Bersih.
Federal police said eight leaders were arrested. They are Mahfuz Omar, Salehuddin Ayub, Mohamad Sabu, Fauziah Salleh, Tian Chua, S Ambiga, Hadi Awang and Azeez Rahim.
The police said that they will release all those detained by 9pm tonight. Criminal investigation chief Ku Chin Wah however told Pakatan Rakyat MPs and Bar Council representatives that those arrested would be released earlier.