Thursday, May 24, 2012

More outdoor photography excursions


Dilapidated wooden shack

BnW sunset


Water droplet

Night traffic

Night traffic

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bersih 3.0 Chaos? Much more than that.

Disclaimer : This post is written from my personal experience and the views here are mine alone. The pictures posted in this post are taken by (unless stated otherwise) by me. Vocabulary in this post could be a little colorful for some readers taste.

About 9 months ago on the 9th of July 2011, I attended Bersih 2.0. Boy did time fly and suddenly its time for 3.0. This time I decided that I would attend wearing the yellow Bersih shirt. Unlike last year where I went solo, I had 6 other companions with me. And so begins our day to join thousands of other citizens in a peaceful protest calling for fairer and cleaner elections.

April 28th 2012.

After meeting up at a nearby mamak stall, we decided the best way to get to Dataran Merdeka would be to take the commuter from Seputeh to Brickfields and walk from there. We boarded the train at 7am and reached KL Sentral around 10 minutes later. While making our way on foot to Dataran, we started to see heavy police presence and fellow countrymen trying to make their way to Dataran as well. We stopped awhile at Masjid Negara for a quick break. From there we continued on the main road the Dataran but found the way barricaded and guarded by the police. We backtracked abit and headed towards the Pos Malaysia building hoping to find a way through. As we approached the post office, we saw that the way was blocked as well, by a police line and several police personnel. It was there and then we met a fellow protester and asked him "Boleh lalu ke? (Do you think we can go thru?)". He just smiled and said "Boleh! (Of course!) Cuba kita jalan ramai-ramai (Try walking together in a big group)" and he led the way. Down to the basement parking we went and through it we emerged at Pasar Seni, one of the designated assembling areas for protesters to gather.

Beautiful sunrise at the KTM station
These 2 people were the ones that led us through the post office to Pasar Seni

 We headed to Pasar Seni's KFC and had breakfast and sat for a long long while because it was still kinda early. While eating we saw hundreds of law enforcement units walking outside. Wondering what was going on, a few of us went and take a look. Once outside we saw more and more protesters arriving and milling about in Pasar Seni. The few of us walked towards the general direction of Dataran and saw a police blockade which consisted of only maybe 80-100 police officers and their superior. After snapping a few shots on my trusty Pentax, we headed back to KFC to change into our yellow shirts and get the rest of our group to start heading out towards Dataran. We just easily circumvent the block of policemen by walking through the sidewalk that was right beside them. It seemed kinda redundant that they were just standing there when protesters could so easily penetrate through.

We continued further up to Jalan Makhamah Persekutuan and saw a huge crowd of protesters, both Bersih and the students that were protesting for free education. We saw many with the Guy Fawkes mask holding up placards posing for pictures with others right next to their tents. Slightly further up we encountered the first heavy blockade. Heavy as in "razor-wire, road barricades and huge police presence" heavy preventing us from reaching Dataran. I saw that the Bersih supporters took the liberty to "decorate" the blockade. We stopped there for a moment to soak in the atmosphere and snap a few quick shots before taking a detour to Masjid Jamek.

We headed through an alley next to the Loke Yew building towards Masjid Jamek. Upon arrival, there were literally thousands of fellow protesters filling up the streets, milling about and chanting together. The atmosphere was "festival" like, as if we were there to celebrate instead of protesting. Now do not misinterpret "celebrate" with causing rampant chaos and havoc. That was not on our minds. "Celebrate" as in celebrating the gathering of thousands in solidarity, the thousands of multi-ethnic citizens gathered for 1 cause. It is abit difficult to describe the atmosphere in words. Everywhere I turned there were different groups. Some sitting, some standing, some holding banners and placards, some riding bicycles in a group, some with entire families accompanying them, some getting interviewed by the press and some waving their native state flags. This goes to show that regardless of age, gender, race, religion, distance and whatever else the government THINKS is hampering true unity, all were gathered here for 1 true cause that concerns all Malaysians.


  When we reached to the entrance of Dataran at Jalan Raja Laut, it was heavily blockaded by law enforcement units and thousands of protesters already sitting right in front of the blockade. Several individuals gave short speeches and leading the crowd in chants. As me and my companions were seated a SMM representative was hoisted up with a mic and a portable speaker asking everyone on the left and right side of Jalan Raja Laut to sit in and fill up the middle. A few minutes later the same person announced "Saya baru mendapat berita bahawa saudara-saudara kita di kawasan Bricksfields dan Pasar Seni telah merempuh halangan polis dan tengah jalan ke Dataran" (I have just gotten news that our fellow brothers and sisters in Bricksfields and Pasar Seni have breached the police blockades and are making their way here to Dataran) prompting the massive crowd to cheer with arms and voices raised high. After siting under the blistering heat for a while more, we walked around to look at other places and to get ourselves some drinks. Heck I bet those open stalls were making a huge profit from this Bersih rally.

As more and more key figures appeared some of us went back to the main crowd and some of us went to take a rest in a shaded area. I was in the main crowd for sometime before deciding to take a break with the rest of my companions. Suddenly something happened that brought every single person to their feet. The arrival of Ambiga and Anwar. I couldn't really hear their speech as they were quite a distance away, but suddenly there were shouts of "Rempuh! rempuh!" (breakthru! breakthru!) and the crowd surged forward into Dataran. And that was when the shitstorm started.

Of the other 6 that arrived with me, only one of them was with me at that particular moment as I got in closer for want of a better shot. Another 2 of companions were slightly further upfront than where I was. The other 3 were quite a distance behind us resting. As me and my friend moved in closer, I heard a familiar sound. The one sound I had hoped not to hear at all, one which precedes chaos. the sound of tear gas being fired. Before it even hit the crowd I turned around and said "Run! They've shot the gas! Run!" after retreating a considerable distance, the FRU from the left of me started firing gas as well. To my right there were people running into Masjid Jamek and Jalan Raja Laut. To my left the gas canisters landed a few feet away. To my back was Dataran where the first of the canisters were still emitting smoke. To my front was the DBKL building surrounded by road barriers. As I made my way towards the DBKL building, people were kicking down the barriers, providing a bigger escape route for all. A sea of bodies were pushing me and my buddy towards the staircase up into the walkway of the DBKL building. Imagine a staircase about 30 feet wide filtering into a 4 foot walkway and you see people already on the floor losing consciousness knocking on the glass doors of the DBKL building asking for shelter. And the DBKL officers just stood on the other side of the glass, arms folded, smiling and laughing at our predicament. Yes I saw all of that. I was fueled with rage at that instant but I could barely stay upright let alone do anything about it.

At that moment the surge of the crowd separated me from my buddy. I decided to run and prayed that I would meet him further up later. During all of this, the FRU kept on moving forward and firing tear gas, so I was constantly washed over by clouds of gas. About a 100 meters from where I lost my friend, my body started shuddering and I bent over in a mad fight to stay conscious. Though I did stay conscious, my body would no longer oblige my commands and I stood bent over there feeling my last reserves of sane and coherent thoughts vanishing along with my sight as I started to drop and embrace the darkness enveloping everything. Yet in the back of my mind my priority was the safety of my camera, I think it was the realization the I was still holding on to my camera that kept me awake just a few seconds longer, even though I was already on the floor . Those precious few seconds were what I needed. As I lay there, a kind soul came and kicked over a road barrier which was about half a feet away from my head. Lo and behold, as he unscrewed the cap, water came rushing out of the top of the barrier. Moving purely with my sense of self-preservation alone, I dragged myself to the gushing water and lay there with my face in it.

What happened next is a bit hard to describe and even more so hard to believe. It was as if my brain and body received a jumpstart. Every system in my being is rebooted instantly. It felt like a total revival. As I stood up and person standing right infront of me gave me a handful of salt and told me to eat it and keep on running. That I did without hesitation, not wanting to be stuck in that pitiful condition ever again. As I reached clear air, I stopped to catch my breath and wipe my eyes. While gathering my thoughts I looked up and saw 3 of my companions that were behind me when the shitstorm started about 20 meters ahead of me. I ran towards them shouting "I lost K!(the friend that was with me) I don't know where he is. I'm afraid that he's passed out". According to JY (one of the 3) I looked 3 quarters dead, eyes and face red, running haphazardly towards them shouting that I've lost one of our friends scared the shit outta him. Without waiting, we ran back into the gas to search for K all the while kept getting pushed back by the constant gas barrage by the FRU, but we persisted and finally God favored us with a wind that blew the gas back towards the FRU. We searched for K heading back very, very, very near ground zero and risking arrest. But I told them this was the place where I lost him, and if he isn't here he is probably somewhere else. We stopped and asked the medical team whether they had seen someone with K's description. He said no but we could wait there and see if they bring in anyone else that could be K. To hell with waiting, the FRU were still advancing and firing. Now I bet most of you were wondering why didn't we just use our bloody phones. Trust me all of us did. Our signals were jammed and no calls could be made.

After making our way further up the road, JY regained use of his phone and called L. L told us that K has joined him and A. A huge breathe of relief. Me and JY headed towards the rendezvous point to meetup with the rest of our companions. Once there and everyone was gathered, the 7 of us started heading off again because the FRU were being relentless, still advancing and firing on UNARMED citizens. We walked, ran, jogged quite a distance, many detours were made because we were constantly chased by the FRU from Dataran and closed in by another FRU unit coming in from another route. Its as if these animals have the intention to kill us. If Bersih 2.0 was chaos, then "chaos" would be an understatement for 3.0. After running to Bukit Nanas we stopped to recuperate and I took portraits of everyone of us there. After resting we headed towards the monorail station to get back to KL Sentral and from there a cab back home. But I have to say, I sweated more on the packed monorail than I did the entire Bersih rally. Plus a scene where K lost his cool on the monorail because of the reckless pushing, and he rained spittle down on commuters around him as he shouted and raged at the uneducated people that didn't understand the meaning of "stop pushing" and "train is full". Once down at KL Sentral, all of us took cabs back to where the cars were parked and headed to a nearby stall for dinner , where we discussed what happened and reliving each individual story. After that it was home and rest.

Now I do agree that those who broke through the barrier has to come out and answer for what they did. I know it was done without malice towards the police, but more of wanting to liberate Dataran Merdeka but the fact is you guys broke a court order.

And the police, FRU and ESPECIALLY DBKL. If you got the balls to do what you did (its all over the internet) COME OUT AND OWN UP TO IT. Don't hide behind the skirts of your superiors with your shit stained panties all in a bunch. You attacked, harmed and terrorized unarmed citizens and JOURNALISTS. You can say "arahan dari atas" ( orders from above ) but now your superiors are not owning up as well saying they gave no such orders. And to the superiors, your time is coming up, the bell tolls for you. You will all answer to your crimes after GE 13 is said and done. This didn't have to be ugly. You made it ugly.

Alot that has transpired is left open for speculation such as : -

-Undercover cops in the Bersih crowd
-FRU will mobilize regardless provoked or not (lets be real. After what we've seen, the FRU only needs the slightest of reasons to start firing)
-Bersih was hijacked by the opposition

and many more. I would say all of these speculations are open for debate and are entirely possible but we each have our own views and opinions on these matters. If any of you would like to discuss or voice out your views and opinions, feel free to leave a comment.
But 1 thing I'll say that definitely isn't true is that this was a riot. NO if this was a riot we wouldn't be so stupid as to attend unarmed. Looting and burning would have happened if this was a riot. Casualties would be everywhere if this was a riot. Your useless barricades wouldn't even stand 5 seconds if this was a riot. We attended a protest. We attended unarmed. We did no damage to public property. Don't you dare blame us for what you did. Cowards.

All in all I hope this year more and more citizens realize that their voice is the true power of a democratic government and will stand up for their rights for free and fair elections and the next Bersih rally (if there is one) will show a bigger turnout.

-Hidup rakyat-


Monday, July 11, 2011

My Experience - BERSIH 2.0

Initially, my intention of going to this rally is just to gain an insight as to what life as a photojournalist might be like. I most definitely got more than I bargained for.

Before I begin, here is a quick insight into what BERSIH 2.0 is about for those who are ignorant, those who said the rally is plain stupid, believers of the ruling party's conspiracy theories and well technically all those who are IGNORANT.

The Bersih 2.0 rally (also called the Walk for Democracy) was a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur held on 9 July 2011 as a follow-up to the 2007 Bersih rally. The rally, organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), was supported by Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition of the three largest opposition parties in Malaysia, but was deemed illegal by the government. Bersih, chaired by former president of the Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan, were pushing the Election Commission of Malaysia (EC) to ensure free and fair elections in Malaysia. It demanded that the EC clean up the electoral roll, reform postal voting, use indelible ink, introduce a minimum 21-day campaign period, allow all parties free access to the media, and put an end to electoral fraud.

I started my journey from home and took a bus hoping that it would stop at KL Sentral monorail as announced by several websites online. This however was not the case. The entire traffic in Old Klang Road were redirected to Seremban Highway. Not even Mid Valley was accessible. Undeterred, I walked to the nearest KTM station and took the rail until KL Sentral and started my walk to Stadium Merdeka. During my journey I documented the entirely empty streets of Kuala Lumpur (which is always congested and extremely busy). I started following the crowd from the Pasar Seni LRT station and was a bit baffled at why they were not walking towards Stadium Merdeka.

So I followed the moving flow of bodies from Petaling street to Jalan Pudu. After taking several pictures, chaos ensued. Chaos that was provoked by the riot police and the FRU.

(In my pictures you will note that there is at least a 400 meter gap in between the ralliers and the law enforcement units, and non of the ralliers were anywhere near them or even provoked them)

What I saw was ralliers just walking and mingling. I was looking into my viewfinder to get the next shot when I heard a series of firearms discharged. I looked towards the FRU side and saw tear gas canisters flying towards the general area where I was standing. In a detached side of my mind I was thinking "I guess I'm about to find out what it feels like" while watching the canisters continue on their arc towards the masses.

Two realizations hit me as I watched the canisters land around me. The first was "Run fool run!!" and the second was "This is unprovoked! I'll never forgive myself if I didn't get a shot of this". And so I ran towards the riot police while the thousands behind me ran in the opposite direction

(Must have been quite a sight to see a lone figure in white holding a camera with a ponytail and a slouch hat run towards the police through the tear gas. Hope someone has a picture, but I doubt it hahaha).

During my sprint I switched my lens to my trusty 80-200mm lens while scrunching up my nose in a effort to try and not breathe in the stinging fumes with tears welling up in my eyes. I lined up my camera and got ready to photograph the moment they fired the second wave of gas canisters.

It started raining heavily out of nowhere and I thanked God for the rain even as I got drenched along with my camera, for it extinguished the gas canisters and provided some relief for my eyes. It was then I decided to "field test" the weather seals on my camera and thus remained unsheltered to get off some quick shots. Glad to say my camera held up against the elements. (PENTAX for the win!) I stayed around a little longer taking some more shots until the FRU and riot police moved to another location.

Still baffled as to why the ralliers did not march to Stadium Merdeka, I decided to make my way there. Along the way people asked me what happened and some friendly people even offered me the plastic bags they were using to shelter their head to protect my camera (Bless them). I actually had my own plastic bag prepared in my pocket but didn't want to waste time wrapping my camera in case I miss an important moment.

The truth of the matter was made clear when I reached the stadium. Despite the approval from the Agong that BERSIH may use the stadium as a rallying point, the police had cordoned off the road and placed barb wires to block ralliers. Water canons and more riot police were standing by behind the wires. After a few shots, I went up to the pedestrian bridge to try and get a better shot. I was so lucky that I decided to move from where I was to the pedestrian bridge. Once again I thanked God as the area I was standing a minute before was fired upon by the water canon. However well my camera had held up against the rain, I'd rather not test its resilience against a water canon. The short spray by the water canon provided the BERSIH ralliers with amusement as instead of hitting the ralliers, it was a friendly fire towards the police on the front lines.Cheers and claps erupted from the BERSIH crowd as we watched the police get a taste of their own medicine.

As I moved down from the pedestrian bridge to ground level, National Laureate Mr. A. Samad Said, also known as Pak Samad made his appearance. Resplendent in a yellow BERSIH 2.0 shirt, this fearless author made his way to the front with chanting and cheering from the BERSIH crowd to negotiate with the police. As time passed more and more key figures showed up. At one point the entire crowd in front of Stadium Merdeka started singing our National Anthem. Just the sight and singing along with fellow countrymen gave me goosebumps. As time passed more and more key figures showed up and the isolated BERSIH groups from other parts of KL finally arrived at Stadium. There was a massive march from them from Petaling Street.

The key figures gave speeches in turn. The last speaker even said a prayer for the benefit of the muslim people and it was he who said this -

"We promised the Agong that we will assemble here until 4pm. Lets show the country that we of BERSIH keep to our promises and disperse at 4pm. Agreed?"

The crowd roared their approval, cheers and applause erupted again. It was then I started to make my way towards the Kuala Lumpur KTM station. Another atrocious event happened at that venue. People dispersing and making their way home after the rally were fired upon with tear gas by the riot police. The riot police are evidently trigger happy gangsters in uniform. Nothing more.

As all can see, this was a peaceful march. It wasn't BERSIH who made the roads close. It wasn't BERSIH who provoked attacks. This wasn't an uprising. BERSIH is, was and will be the citizens of this country exercising our constitutional right to assemble and ask for FAIR ELECTIONS. Why is the ruling party so paranoid? If they truly have nothing to lose then why not submit to demands of fair elections instead of resulting to police brutality and spreading lies on the local media? 15 years ago ignorant or ill informed citizens would have believed these lies. This day, the internet is wide spread and information, pictures and videos are easily obtained. The rakyat can see and judge for themselves now.


907 will be the day I always remember. Not because of the police brutality. That is just a small stain on a bigger picture. But because 50 000 over Malaysians regardless of race, religion, language and beliefs gathered together in solidarity for a common cause. We marched together, joined hands, helped each other out when attacked, giving each other hearty slaps on the backs and shaking hands with each other. And despite unprovoked attacks from the police we did not retaliate. I'm proud to have walked beside all of you and sang the National Anthem with all of you. As I have said at the beginning of this post, my initial aim is the just get an insight into life as a photojournalist. But the ensuing events thereafter and witnessing many acts of unity amongst the people has cemented my resolve to be a part of BERSIH. In its own way BERSIH is so much more effective than 1Malaysia.

This post is typed in yellow in tribute to all those who I've stood beside, those who endured the brutality of the police and especially to the late great Baharuddin Ahmad. A true hero of BERSIH 2.0. You will not be forgotten. Justice for your untimely demise will be demanded.

Hidup Rakyat!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

50 Reasons. A comprehensive list.

A fellow graphic designer friend of mine shared this page authored by another Graphic Designer a while back. It was a nice read and many of it holds true among designers haha so here ya go.
50 reason not to date a Graphic Designer. (with some of my own thoughts and commentary)

1. They are very weird people. Those who have known me can testify to this hahaha!
2. There are billions of them in the world, like colors on the screen of your computer. Definitely. We're here to take over the world
3. They will analyse conversations in layers. I analyze everything!
4. You will spend the day assembling furniture from IKEA. Well so far not my own, but the ones my family buys
5. They drink and eat all kinds of weird shit just because they like the packaging. Indeed.
6. They hate each other. Only if we disagree violently :D
7. You’ll come out the last out of the movies because you have to see the full list of credits. Maybe~ ok fine half the credits O:
8. They cant change a light bulb or without making a sketch. Nah... I'd just rather change the light bulb and get it over with
9. They fuck up all the tables with their cutters. Oh yes indeed. Not just tables, anything that has a flat surface is not safe from us.
10. They rather study the paisley pattern on your outfit than listen to what you have to say. Take it as a way we avoid retorting with a particularly sarcastic remark.
11. They will fill your house with magazines and whatever is out there that has drawings. So far they are all only in my room. But they may soon encroach out and take over the house.
12. You never know if it is really an original or a copy.
13. They make collages with your photos. Hasn't occurred to me to do that yet. But the idea is appealing.
14. They do not know how to add and subtract, they just understand letters. Guilty as charged.
15. They idolize people who nobody knows and speak of them as if they were his colleagues. Indeed.
16. They take pictures almost daily and all are cut in weird shapes. Yeap I have a hot finger behind the camera but I mostly like to keep my photos intact.
17. They ask your opinion about everything but they do whatever they want. Hell yeahhhhhh
18. Everything is left justified, right or center unless they arrive late. Abit unfortunate for me since tardiness is one of my inherent traits.

19. They hate Comic Sans with the same passion they love Helvetica. HAHAHAHAHA!
20. They use iPhone for everything, because everyone has one.
21. You can not decorate the house without consulting them. Ah well is not my house now but yeah stay out of my room.
22. They steal street signs. The thought has definitely occurred to me plenty a time even before I read this list but have yet to commit the act :D
23. Always carry their hands painted with something. Nahhh not me...
24. They buy dolls unfinished for them to paint. Just like stealing street signs. It did seemed appealing. But I have yet to do something like that.
25. Everything becomes something other than what it really is: cards as tickets, cards as … Yes. Inherent creativity does that eh?
26. When arguing, you will be nicknamed like the OSX spinning wheel (not affectionately) LOL!
27. Do not know how to dress without consulting the Pantone book.
Well I have no idea what the Pantone book is but yes general looks of appraisal from the public always suggests that I do not know how to dress. But of course I'm left handed and we're known to dress for comfort rather than style.
28. They hate Excel. Ewwwwwwwwww...... Hate with passion I might add
29. They read comics. Mmmmhmmmmm
30. They want to save the world only with a poster. An award-winning poster I might add.
31. You will spend the day brainstorming. Only when the time calls for it.
32. On vacation they will take you to countries that you do not know exist and have no beach. Nawww I love beaches but yeah I'll most probably go to an obscure country.
33. Museums are their second home. Nahhh... not for me
34. They know more positions than the Kamasutra. LOL now I don't know about that, only a few can testify and non willing to hahaha
35. They can’t go to a restaurant without secretly critiquing the menu design. Yes every single time.
36. They listen to music you have never heard of. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh yess.
37. They can´t cook a normal dish, they always have to experiment with new ingredients. Which is why aunty tries to keep me out of the kitchen.
38. They read rare books: stories of children, Semiotics … Now is that a bad thing?
39. When you are going to tell you something, everyone has read it in their facebook and twitter.
40. They have own iPods before you knew they existed. Not true
41. The orgasm they remember is when they heard that Adobe was acquiring Macromedia. Well macromedia was sucky until Adobe gave them a new pair of wings.
42. They have their own shops just for them and there are the most expensive in the city. Ah yes.... art shops..
43. They want to spend all the money in the Apple Store. Oh yes I so want to....
44. You will never understand their gifts. Yeap many a time I received an incredulous look to what I thought was a perfectly understandable gift hahahaha
45. They see ordinary objects and laugh. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA -refer to no.1-
46. You wake up in the middle of the night hearing them screaming “When is the deadline?” Oh yess... our personal nightmares forced upon us by faceless clients that wait behind our eye-lids every night preparing to give us a "good nights" sleep
47. They see CMYK and RGB like Neo sees the Matrix. LOL I never thought of it that way. But yeahhh...
48. They dream of the day nobody will make a single change to their designs. Ah... when will that much vaunted day come?
49. They rather pay for a font than for a special birthday gift. So far.. I've yet to pay for a font :D
50. They are always sleepy because they work 24/7. Eyebags are our legacy.

So yeah folks. 50 really good reasons why I'm still single.
But so much more like "50 traits of graphic designers" Hope this has been an enjoyable read up.


Recent project - Kuala Lumpur in Black and White

One of my recent photography outing along with my fellow classmates Ah Liang and Jian Seng.
Though I've taken pictures of Kuala Lumpur many a time, this time is quite different. Aside from the usual skyscrapers, I decided to focus more on the denizens of the city instead. I forgoed my DSLR for this little excursion and settled for a compact Panasonic Lumix instead while I loaned my DSLR to Ah Liang in hopes that he'll get the hang of operating one before he purchases one for himself.