“Saya berlari untuk BERSIH 2.0”
All roads to Dataran Merdeka were cordoned off today, but it is not because of another Bersih rally.
Instead, the iconic square acted as the finish line for the annual Standard Chartered KL Marathon, thus had to be closed off to vehicles.
Nevertheless, the event still attracted its fair share of Bersih supporters who used it as a legitimate reasons to be in Dataran Merdeka and make a point.
Back in April 28, about 100,000 Bersih supporters had surrounded the venue, only to be pushed back by the tear gas and water cannon fire.
This time round, Bersih supporters could freely wear yellow bibs which read “I run for Bersih 2.0” and rush into the square.
Dubbed the Let’s Bersih the Marathon Kuala Lumpur 2012 event, the idea was concieved through Facebook users.
“We couldn’t get into Dataran Merdeka (on April 28) but in Malaysia’s largest marathon, we can!” read the group’s Facebook event page.
According to one of the organisers, Julie Wong, around 500 bibs were given out to runners.
The idea was concieved by a group of runners who supported Bersih and wanted to run with the movement’s logo, said Wong,
Not all were receptive
At the same time, another smaller group of about 10 were cheering participants along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
Standing by the roadside and holding Bersih banners, runners gave them high-fives as they jogged by. Several also chanted “Bersih, Bersih” in support.
The only problem they faced, according to representative Yu Ren Chung, was a man who came up to them and accused them of dragging politics into a sports event.
“What are you doing? Looking for a fight?” the man told the group before walking away.
After being approached by the hostile man, the group informed police personnel present and then continued with their cheering, said Yu.
Finally, they jogged past the finish line at Dataran as well, carrying their banners and cheering “Bersih”.
Retiree KT Wong (left), 55, is no stranger to marathons and is a fervent Bersih supporter.
The 42.2km marathon is his 28th outing, and it is not the first time he has sported a yellow shirt to ‘run for Bersih’.
He also wore yellow to an event in Singapore last October, several months after the Bersih 2.0 rally in July.
Asked how it felt to finally cross the finish line and run into Dataran, he said it felt “wonderful”.
Having also attended the rally last April, he lamented how the authorities had wrongfully kept the public away from Dataran Merdeka.
“The problem shouldn’t even arise,” he said, contrasting the “wonderful” run he had today with feeling “restricted” on April 28.
An auditor who wanted only to be known as Chee (right) said she found out about the campaign through Facebook, and came with her aunt.
She could not make it for the Bersih 3.0 rally, so she decided to run the 10km race and “create awareness” for the cause instead.
The 25-year-old hopes elections will happen later rather than sooner, as it is a busy time of year for her.
Bank executive Siah Kwong Liang, who ran the 10km race, also decided to “run for Bersih” simply to show support for the movement.
“I went for the rally (in April) but I left by 3pm (before the first tear gas canister was fired),” the 31-year-old said.
The event, which began as early as 4am, was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Kuala Lumpur Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail.
It is unknown if they came across any of the Bersih runners while handing out prizes.