After quickly dusting off my helmet, I was looking for my riding boots. The slippery and water proof boots would come handy it rained again. I checked if my mobile GPS unit still had some juice in it. I was lucky. It had some that could last probably a couple of hours.
Riding into the winds, I wasn't sure where to go. Finally, out of the blue, I decided to check out Stadium Merdeka, where BERSIH is planning to gather this 9th of July.
I leisurely took Jalan Kinabalu heading east bound, and as I neared the stadium vicinity, turned left into Bulatan Merdeka. It was a short road ahead and before passing Kuan Yin Temple, I took another left turn into Jalan Stadium. There I stopped by the road side for a while and faced my head to the right. There it was! The majestic and imposing Stadium Merdeka with all its glory and history right before my eyes.
The last time I was this near to Stadium Merdeka was when the nation was celebrating its 50th independence in 2007. A few months before the big celebration, the stadium was restored to its original condition of 1957. The 40,000 capacity stadium was reduced to 20,000 as it was back then. I must admit that I still get goose bumps every time I look at this magnificent heritage building.
As I rode my bike slowly through Jalan Hang Jebat, Jalan Hang Tuah, Jalan Sultan and Jalan H S Lee, I noticed that the roads are not exactly wide avenues with commanding views, as normally expected of roads leading to a stadium. They were narrow, winding and had no ample curb space. The areas bordering these roads were either covered with impenetrable dense tall trees, construction scaffoldings or shop lots with crowded 5 foot way.
When you are standing in Jalan Hang Jebat, you can barely see people gather in the other roads. And vice versa. The roads have many blind-spots! At a glance, you won't be able to determine the size of crowd in the vicinity. Not so perfect for a gathering whose impact and success depend largely on how big a crowd that can be cramped into one single photo.
Not far from the stadium several houses of worship dotted the area. In fact the stadium is surrounded by a Sikh temple and Kuan Yin temple to the west, Gospel Hall Church to the north and Masjid Al-Bukhary to the east. There are numerous schools plus several indoor stadia surrounding the stadium too.
After surveying the place myself, I come to a conclusion that the Stadium Merdeka is hardly an ideal place to gather a boisterous 100k crowd, let alone 300k! In the first place, you can't fit that many people into the stadium. That means majority of them will be spilling over to the streets I mentioned earlier. They have no choice but to occupy the narrow, winding, blind-spotted roads. That means most of them won't be able to see their friends if they happen to be in the other roads.
I suppose one wont be able to get maximum adrenalin kick, that feeling of invincibility derived from the basic and primordial "hunting in a pack" instinct when the herd is separated into smaller groups.
I am afraid, they can't even do the Mexican waves without those darn trees breaking the momentum! Heck, you may even end up fertilising the trees for free when the nature calls with the lack of outdoor toilets!
Now let's look at the security aspec (I am not an expert and don't pretend to be one).
What if, for what ever reason, the crowd got wild and become rowdy and the police have to come in to restore order? I bet you those calm and tranquil sacred houses of prayer seem so inviting. They will be the first choice to seek refuge in.
And if, God forbid, the police are forced to storm those places, CNN and BBC TV crew will be filing their live stories while taking jibes at blasphemous and sacrilegious Malaysia. In the mean time, their bosses in Atlanta and London will be sighing in relief for they now have tantalising visuals and sound bites worthy of breaking news for the next two to three days. Step aside Mr GTP and Mr ETP, there is a new kid on the block and it's sensational!
Consider next Stadium Shah Alam. If you look at the photo below you will see the vastness of the stadium compounds. The stadium was made to accommodate100k people with ample parking. Your cars won't be towed and impounded by Shah Alam City Council if you happen to park indiscriminately. The boss is around what? Just make sure you don't have red ribbon tied to your car antenna.
In the stadium, the crowd will be seated comfortably, shielded from rain and the scorching sun. They can enjoy better view of what the organisers are doing and with the electronic video screens at both ends of the stadium, it will be a blast!
I have used the toilets in Stadium Shah Alam before whenever Sabah was playing Selangor and I can assure you that they are much more better than Stadium Merdeka's. After relieving yourself, you can start your Mexican waves. This time the waves will be able to complete the circle around the stadium uninterrupted, except maybe when they reach where Nik Aziz, Karpal and Anwar are seated. Don't go booing them because it takes a lot of effort to stand up that many times and flung your hands into the air if you either a fragile elderly man or having chronic back pain or wheel chair bound (no disrespect intended). Have mercy!
You know, if the organisers throw in some free T-shirts, drinks and foods and you decide to do BBQ with Bob Marley's Redemption Song playing in the background to suit the mood, you could have a tail gate party of your life!
Isn't it wonderful to have home turf advantage?