Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sogo saga: The true story

The defining moment of the Bersih 3.0 rally is not the firing of tear gas and jets of chemical-laced water by riot police at the hordes of demonstrators.

It is also not the moment when demonstrators broke the barricades and the barb wire fencing off Dataran Merdeka at the junction of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja.
The defining moment is how a police car ended up on its side outside Sogo department store on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman during the Bersih 3.0 rally on Saturday afternoon.

This incident has been played up by the mainstream media and also the police to portray the lack of respect for the law and the hooliganism of the demonstrators.

This incident has been used to portray the Bersih 3.0 rally as being far from peaceful and those taking part were violent thugs who attacked policemen on duty.

Thus this incident has to be examined properly.

Luckily there were lots of brave cameramen and videographers that day and many video clips of the incident, including the 'official' version by the police, are available on YouTube. Many of these cameramen and videographers were bashed up by the cops, but that's another story.

The first clip of the overturning of the police car that I watched on Saturday afternoon was from Malaysiakini. The second clip was from the police. Later I watched a few more clips from other sources.

It can be easily discerned that the 'official' police version was edited to make it appear as if the Bersih demonstrators mercilessly attacked the hapless cop who drove the car. 

The dazed cop who drove the police car being helped
out by two Bersih demonstrators. This is the scene left
out of the 'official' police video clip of the Sogo event.

In the police clip, you will see a man jumping on the roof of the police car as it makes its way slowly past hundreds of demonstrators. Whether that man is an agent provocateur is not known, but he obviously 'inspired' the other demonstrators to kick the car and smash its windscreens. That man is seen hopping off the bonnet of the police car and running away.

From all the video clips that I saw, the sequence of events went like this:
1) A police car moves slowly through the sea of demonstrators.
2) A man climbs onto the police car and jumps several times on the roof, hops onto the bonnet and onto the road and runs away.
3) Demonstrators kick the police car and the body is dented.
4) Demonstrators throw water bottles and road cones at the police car.
5) The cop driving the car loses control of the vehicle and it veers to the right and crashes into several people who were on the sidewalk outside Sogo. The car hits a wall with a loud thud and stops. (Mainstream media reports said three people were injured, one seriously.)
6) Demonstrators rush towards the car. Someone wearing a crash helmet tries to open the driver's door and when he is pulled away, he starts punching and kicking the demonstrators. He is then beaten up by demonstrators.
7) Several men wearing yellow and red T-shirts surround the car and they put up their hands and are heard shouting "Sabar! Sabar!"
8) One man in yellow T-shirt opens the door and helps out the dazed cop, places his hand on the shoulder of the cop and leads him away. A man in red T-shirt is also seen helping the cop. Someone is injured because he can be seen lying on the ground and there are blood stains on the pavement.
9) The demonstrators think there is someone trapped underneath the police car. At least two people can be seen kneeling down to look under the car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang di bawah tau!" A girl's voice is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!" and several people lift the cop car from the right side and the car lands on its left side.

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the events leading to the demonstrators lifting the police car which lands on its side. A girl is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!"

From Malaysianews:
This clip shows demonstrators kicking and throwing water bottles at the police car as it makes its way slowly past the thousands of demonstrators. It also shows the police car veering to the right and hitting several people who are standing on the pavement outside Sogo. This clip also shows a man in yellow T-shirt helping the dazed cop out of the car, placing his hand over the cop's shoulder and escorting him away. It also shows the events leading to several people lifting the police car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang dibawah tau!" before the car is lifted and lands on its left side.

This shows more or less the same scenes as the previous clip from another angle. The crash victim can be seen lying on the pavement in this clip. The man in red T-shirt is seen helping the cop along with the man in yellow T-shirt.

This clip shows the crash from another angle:

This is the most comprehensive clip on the accident that I have seen so far:

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the man who was hit by the police car being placed on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance.

From the police:
This is the official version from the police. It has been obviously edited to make the demonstrators look bad.

Please watch all the video clips and judge for yourself.

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