By 2pm the crowd size increased to about 40,000, and at its peak hit about 80,000.
KUALA LUMPUR: Police roadblocks have been set up at all major roads leading to the city ahead of the Bersih 3.0 rally scheduled for the later part of this afternoon, but this has not stopped the participants from flooding the federal capital.
Roads affected are Jalan Bangsar, Jalan Loke Yew, Jalan Mahameru, Jalan Parlimen, Jln Tun Razak, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Syed Putra, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Sungai Besi and Jalan Tun Sambanthan.
It is learnt that 58 roads leading into the city have been closed and all major roads leading to the historic Dataran Merdeka is also closed to traffic.
Police presence has also been beefed up at all LRT stations in the city. Although roadblocks were set up in the early hours of the morning, it did not deter participants from “infiltrating” it.
Many have gathered at selected locations in the city awaiting “orders” from Bersih officials to start their march towards Dataran later in the day.
Reports on the ground reveal that Central Market, which is a stone’s throw away from Dataran Merdeka, is teaming with participants.
The walkway from Central Market to Dataran has also been declared off limits by policemen on duty.
The crowd, estimated at 1,000, was milling around Masjid Jamek LRT station right up to the intersection to Dataran Merdeka as of 10am.
Chants of “Duduk Bantah” is echoing along Jalan Tun Perak to Dataran Merdeka.
The court order issued two days ago against Bersih chairperson S Ambiga and Bersih organisers and the public is prominently displayed at the junction of Jalan Raja, about 30 metres from Dataran Merdeka.
The court order was to bar Ambiga, Bersih organisers and the public from entering Dataran Merdeka for the next two days.
As for the police, they have secured Dataran Merdeka, standing behind barbed wires placed to ward off the participants.
There is also heavy police presence along Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, opposite Jalan Petaling.
More than 4,500 Bersih and Himpunan Hijau supporters have started gathering in Chinatown, near Jalan Sultan and Jalan Tun Cheng Lock.
Some have taken to walking along the nearby alleys and lanes, shouting, “Hancur BN, Hidup Bersih!”
A few even struck daring poses in front of the police; something rarely done in previous demonstrations.
They are, however, not making any attempt to stop people from slipping past around their line, and appear tolerant of photographers and posers.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 participants have gathered at the traffic intersection of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Raja and Jalan Tun Perak.
Hawkers doing brisk business
Shouting “Bersih”, “Duduk bantah” and “Reformasi”, the majority of them are seated on the roadsides under the watchful eyes of the police who have placed barricades.
Bersih committee member Wong Chin Huat, who was at the Jalan Petaling intersection, said he did not expect trouble at Chinatown.
“It’s quite safe here. If police stopped us, we’ll sit down and speak with them.”
“I don’t think the police will be stupid enough to fire tear gas in this area. If they did, the [backlash] would be worse than what happened at Tung Shin Hospital last year,” he said.
He added that people were openly donning Bersih T-shirts, a far cry from last year.
“Last year, people were hiding everywhere, and wouldn’t come out until it was time to march. This year, everyone is out in the open,” he said.
With the crowd swelling, hawkers are doing roaring business at all affected roads with their eateries swarmed by hungry Bersih supporters.
Opportunistic hawkers selling mineral water bottles and canned drinks have also been spotted plying their wares to the people present.
In the meantime, more than 50 policemen have formed a human wall, blocking the Jalan Sultan crowd heading towards the Pasar Seni LRT station.
Calling the government traitors and manipulators, he said it was about time Malaysians woke up and demanded for their rights.
“I came here early because I wanted to avoid the roadblock, but also because I wanted to see the crowd grow in size with my own eyes.
“I was a disbeliever last year, but not this year. I cannot take the high level of corruption in this country any longer,” said Marlia Husin Sani, 31.
Lee Kim Swee, 55, said: “I’m as old as our nation. I never thought I would do something like this. I was here at 4am and I am not tired. Being among the crowd is rejuvenating. “