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Melvin San shares his personal experience at Bersih 3

I am very proud of my 2 younger children who were with me at Bersih 3.0 (my eldest is in Japan). They braved the tear gas, chemical-laced water and intimidation by the police and riot squad - they refused to leave until 4 pm, the official time that the organisers informed the rally would end. In the process, my son, Aaron was badly affected by the tear gas when he went forward to the "frontlines" to take pictures of the Police. I had to restrain my daughter, Audrey from following him.

When Aaron came back from the "frontlines" he had tears streaming down his face and mucus running freely from both his mouth and nose! Audrey and I were less affected by the tear gas as the wind was blowing away from us although the tear gas canisters landed very near to where we were.

Even then, it was very difficult to breathe, our faces itched and we had teary eyes. Instead of protecting the Rakyat, the police acted like thugs beating up whoever they could lay their hands on!

That day, Aaron and Audrey matured into adults who stood up to be counted and did not retreat even though the police and riot squad came very close to where we were! The whole area around Masjid Jamek, Petaling Street and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman was cordoned off and my 2 children and I had to demand that the police lift the barricades for us to get to the Pasar Seni LRT at around 4.15 pm.

When we walked towards the barricades, the police shouted at us from afar but we just continued walking towards them and demanded that we be let through.

At first they were reluctant to, but a senior officer told them to let us through and commented that they themselves cannot go home until all of us went home, but how can anyone go home when the whole area is cordoned off and the LRT Stations shut down! We had roti chennai and teh tarik at a mamak shop to wait out the closure of the LRT station, but the commotion did not abate outside as tear gas was still being fired in Petaling Street and Jalan Sultan nearby. We finally arrived home around 6 pm.

Incidentally, one of my Clients came up from Melaka together with his friend from PJ to join us for the rally. This Client has become a personal friend and related that when he rang up PJ Hilton the day before to book a room and requested for early check-in, he was told that the check-in time was 2 pm.

He appealed saying he was coming for the Bersih Rally - the reply was, "The Bersih Rally?.....yes Sir, you can check in early!" This shows the support Bersih 3.0 has among the ordinary citizens. Quite a number of families made up the Rally participants and around 50% were Chinese which is very encouraging but at the Rally we were all "just Malaysians".

People came from far and near, young, old and in-between. There was a couple where the wife was 70 years old and husband 80 years and the wife said, "God willing, if there is a need for Bersih 4.0, we will be there!". Even my secretary and her friends went too! They and the old couple were caught by the full brunt of the tear gas and chemical-laced water but they were not cowed!

Malaysians have finally thrown away the shackles of May 13th 1969 and will stand up to be counted. It is indeed a new dawn for Malaysia and despite all the cheating, gerrymandering and malapportionment, I am hopeful that come GE13 we can achieve the "CHANGE" that will see us claw back from the brink of being a failed nation!

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