ON PROTEST DAY
I received calls very early in the morning asking whether it was safe to go to town, meaning the city centre. I'm not a policeman of course but I did make some calls and later went for a drive to check out the streets.
Traffic was less than normal and my thosai joint in Bangsar, Pelita, was rather quiet. On Sundays, Pelita Bangsar have a fairly good crowd. Some well-known and wealthy personalities would often park their Ferraris, Porsche and M5 BMWs while having a quick breakfast. Today, there were none.
News of the street protest by Hindraf must have discouraged many from venturing out. A friend informed me that policemen in patrol cars used loudhailers asking residents in Taman Permata in Ulu Klang to stay indoors! This, I thought, was really serious.
In truth, many parts of the city were quite normal. Motorists avoided the roads leading to KLCC and Jalan Ampang where the British High Commission is located. I attended a wedding outside KL and there was hardly any discussion about the steet protest.
I suppose only the city folks and those directly involved in the protest talk about it. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. But if one is to get information from radio news bulletin, then one will have to wait for hours before getting a two-liner. Sigh.
I guess the radio people don't want to cause undue alarm by extensive reporting of the protest. While this may be true, I'm of the opinion that a 'straight reporting' of the event will not lead to chaos or disturbances. To me, this is surely better than getting SMSs which need to be verified and double-checked.
I got more information fom taxi drivers than listening to the radio news bulletin. One taxi driver told me that the Hindraf supporters had gathered as early as 6am at Jalan Ampang while another said Police and protestors had ran into each other at Batu Caves last night. (And this was confirmed by TV3 news at 8pm - incidentally TV3 showed more footage of the protest this time than RTM).
What I'm saying is this - manage the flow of information rather than blacking it out altogether. Not putting the news out on news bulletin is irresponsible, perhaps even more irresponsible than SMSs sent by individuals whose sources of information are suspect.
MY ORIGINAL POSTING
IT'S another week of long and unnecessary traffic jams, courtesy of Polis DiRaja Malaysia. All roads leading to the city centre have road blocks, said to prevent the entry of unwanted elements for this Sunday's proposed rally organised by Hindraf, a Hindu-based NGO.
I first got wind of the rally when an MIC blogger sent me an SMS advising me and all his friends not to take part in the Nov 25 Rally. The text message have been circulating countless times. No one really knows if the rally will actually take place but we all know how we feel about being caught in traffic jams created by PDRM.
I don't really mind police road blocks if they achieve what they seek to do. When I passed the Jalan Duta toll booth today and heading towards the city, I joined all other motorists going through the bottle neck. All motorists in front me (easily 100 cars) passed by without having have to stop or being inspected.
On Thursday, I was caught in the traffic jam after exiting Putrajaya on the way to the city. And you must have friends who were caught in the snarl all the way from UPM highway to the Technology Park section of the KL-Seremban highway!
I'm not sure if those wanting to attend the rally would raise their hands and gleefully announce to the policemen on duty that he's on the way to the rally! And I'm also not sure if the men-in- blue would be able to single out the would-be protestors by just looking at the person.
Since the rally is planned by a Hindu NGO, would that make any Indian or dark-skinned fellow a possible participant, and have to be taken aside at the road block to explain their travel plans? How would a rally protestant look like anyway? Mean-looking with tattoo on his arms? I really don't know lah...
What about those who actually live and work in the city? Would they have to be inspected too?The unwanted elements could still sneak in to the city since the road blocks are not manned throughout the day. I wonder how they could be stopped from entering the city. And what if they troop in on foot?
My take on the road block is simple - make every road user suffer and get them riled up against the rally organisers! That's all! Get the public to curse the organisers and blame them for the traffic jams! Hopefully, the police reckon, less people will turn up for the rally.
I for one am not sure if street rallies, especially if they are violent and bloody, would yield the right results. It would certainly attract media attention, if not local then certainly the foreign lenses and scribes. I would prefer dialogues, genuine and sincere ones that is.
At the end of the day, after all the fighting is done, the feuding parties would still need to talk and iron out their differences. So why not engage and talk now rather than take the protests to the street with no real control of the outcome. Of course dialogue is a two-way thing...