10 Julai 2011

Umno Youth's Patriot rally fizzles out in the rain

Umno Youth's Patriot rally fizzles out in the rain
The build-up to the Patriot rally was almost epic.

Not only were there promises of thousands of people, a sideshow ofsilat exponents were supposed to appear alongside the Umno Youth members and “wage war against the Bersih 2.0 activists”.

NONEIn reality, it was a case of 500 noisy supporters suddenly appearing at 1.30pm, two-and-a-half hours later than when Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said they would be there.

To be fair, text messages and tweets were circulated close to midnight last night about the change of plans, reminding me of a conversation this reporter had with an Umno man just on Friday about how hard it is to mobilise their party members in the morning.

“They will come up with all kinds of excuses one lah,” he said.

Even if Khairy had given a press conference the day before about the movement's plans to march from Bukit Bintang to Stadium Merdeka, it would appear that the police were not too bothered to even show up.

NONEMaybe there were already scores of plainclothes police personnel early in the morning, apart from the ones visibly behaving like the police (holding walkie talkies while attempting to take pictures of everyone else discreetly).

Maybe they did not want to scare away the numerous tourists who seemed to be unaware of the events that were about to unfold.

Even with the tardiness, Umno Youth's timing was fortunately just right when they suddenly appeared at Jalan Bukit Bintang, just five minutes after about 1,000 Bersih protesters marched through the alleys of the Sungai Wang area towards Jalan Pudu.

Stand-off with the police

Suddenly appearing almost out of nowhere, Petaling Jaya Utara Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah climbed atop a pick-up truck, giving away the bright red Patriot T-shirts to their supporters as well as curious tourists.

NONEBy then, their supporters had arrived at Jalan Bukit Bintang, later to be met by Khairy who received a hero's welcome despite therestriction orderon him. (Jalan Bukit Bintang was not listed in the restriction order.)

“If the Election Commission is not clean and fair, how could they have won five states and deny BN a two-thirds majority?

“(Bersih 2.0) does not have a clean intent. This is all clearly the opposition agenda to topple the government,” he said when addressing the supporters.

Linking arms and marching in the front line, he led the group slowly with all intent to march to Stadium Merdeka, even if it meant crossing paths with the earlier group of Bersih 2.0 supporters who were already blocked by the police, just 200 metres away from them.

NONEBut despite their fiery chants of “Hancur Bersih” and “Hancur Anwar”, it later became clear that a clash with the opposing camp was the last thing on their minds.

Many of the Youth exco members were seen trying to rein in their members, a handful of whom were baying for some blood and action, telling them to get back behind the line as they inched forward slowly.

But after moving for no more than several metres, the group encountered the FRU barricade and water cannon trucks that had just rolled in, as though they were waiting for them.

Clashing with the police

Moving closer and closer to the FRU human barricade, what was about to happen threw everyone off-guard.

NONE“Ready? One, two, three!” Khairy shouted before leading the Umno Youth members to charge at the FRU personnel.

Some of the Umno Youth supporters scuffled with FRU personnel before the police opened up a tear gas canister, sending the protesters scurrying away in the rain.

It was only several minutes later that the police found Khairy standing under a shack at an open air carpark, recovering from the effects of the tear gas, before whisking him away.
Putera Umno chief Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim was also arrested.
NONEAfter a round of negotiations with the police, Umno Youth exco member Megat Zulkarnain Omardin ended what was to be a very short procession, calling it a moral victory.

“The police were very fair and they didn't take sides. Umno Youth doesn't want to clash with the police, unlike the Bersih 2.0 demonstrators who provoked the police, forcing them to respond in an aggressive manner.

“So now we choose to disperse peacefully,” he told reporters after the rally.

He also confirmed that apart from Khairy, exco member Lokman Noor Adam and two others were arrested.


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