How Bersih 3.0 changed me… as a father, as a journalist and as a Malaysian.

bersih 1

bersih 2

bersih 3

The 13th General Election is finally here in Malaysia after a long wait! I’m a different person now than I was many years ago. I have covered every single BERSIH event and nothing has changed me more than Bersih 3.0. It changed me as a father, as a journalist and as a Malaysian! My friend and fellow journalist, Oon Yeoh, edited a book titled ‘Clean Sweep – The global triumph of Bersih 3.0′ last year and he asked me to contribute an essay about my experience. The book is now available in all major bookstores. And if you would like to read my essay, you can do so by not being a cheapskate and just buying the book! But if you’re still adamant about being a cheapskate… then click here to read it lah! Hahaha!

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Google’s top 2012 searches… that led to my website!


2012 according to Google
By Zan Azlee

DEC 28 ― The year is coming to an end and it is time to look back and reflect upon the momentous events of the passing year. I thought it would be a good idea to look back at 2012’s top ten searches on Google… and that led to my website, Fatbidin.com!

10. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

Number ten could be one that has given me the most pleasure this year. I disagree with everything this academician, TV host and writer ― whose real name is Tee Chuan Seng ― says. We had a brief heated exchange in our respective columns (his is in Sinar Harian), from which I emerged victorious.

9. Kabul

Being the gloriously brave war journalist and adrenaline junkie that I am, I went to Afghanistan to shoot a documentary. After a decade of war and after the Taliban, it’s quite a surprise that the country is still getting media coverage.

8. Bersih 3.0

This has to be one of the lowest points of the year. I witnessed things that I don’t ever want to witness in Malaysia again. The police were brutally attacking demonstrators and even journalists like a bunch of street thugs ― after they removed their nametags, of course. But the spirit of Malaysians that gathered, now that was a high point.

[Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

My top 10 reasons for celebrating National Day

My top 10 reasons for celebrating National Day
By Zan Azlee

AUG 31 — I haven’t come up with a top 10 list in a long time. And seeing that it’s National Day, I thought it would be apt to do just that this week!

(It could also mean that I’m already in the long weekend mode and am just too lazy to write something lengthy!)

So here’s my top 10 for why I am happy to celebrate this National Day: [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

We’re better off than Syria, Egypt and Libya… so shut up?

A Malaysian Spring? Not!
By Zan Azlee

JUNE 1 — It’s annoying to me when I meet people who say that we should be thankful to be living in a country like Malaysia and that there are so many countries worse off than us.

“Look at Somalia. They’re all hungry there.”

“Do you want us to be like Syria where people are being killed?”

“Thank god we aren’t Palestine!”

“The poor in India live a terrible life!”

“Look at the poor Iraqis and Afghans!”

“At least we’re not in a situation like the Malays in Southern Thailand!”

I don’t deny that Malaysia isn’t a bad country and I do have a very decent quality of life. I have work and can provide for my family. My family and I are very happy and there is no doubt it is because we’re living in Malaysia, and I am definitely thankful for that. But that does not mean we do not need to improve. And to improve, we need to have a benchmark. [Click to read to the read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Manipulating religion for worldly gains

Manipulating religion for worldly gains
By Zan Azlee

MAY 11 – One Muslim calling the other a kafir (infidel). Muslims simply declaring anything they feel like as being haram. All this while still in the heat of Bersih. What I am referring to is to the article in the New Straits Times which carried the headline ‘Nik Aziz the father of kafirs’.

And I am also referring to the country’s fatwa council declaring that it is haram for Muslims to be participating in Bersih rallies. The New Straits Times wrote that former IGP, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, says that PAS’ Nik Aziz is the father of kafirs. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Violence against Malaysia – My Bersih 3.0

Violence against Malaysia
By Zan Azlee

MAY 4 — I waited for almost a week before actually writing or posting anything much about the recent Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur. There were so many emotions, I wanted to make sure that I was calm and coherent before actually commenting on it. And now that everything seems ever so slightly clearer to me, the one thing that affected me most that Saturday was the violence that occurred.

The day had started early for me and walking all around the city, I felt the almost party-like atmosphere amongst all the Malaysians that had gathered. Dataran Merdeka, of course, had a heavy police presence. It was cordoned off with metal fencing and even scary-looking barbed wire. But, as I mentioned, the atmosphere was very festive and I guess the intimidation wasn’t working that well.

When the rally was in full force, I was standing alongside the leaders as they were giving their speeches and encouraging the people to sing. Once everyone was as close to Dataran Merdeka as possible, I heard the leaders declaring the rally a success and calling for the crowd to disperse. The crowd didn’t disperse and I made my way behind the barricade and police line with the help of my press tag. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Click on the thumbnails below to launch the photo essay.

I will be covering BERSIH 3.0 live

I will be covering BERSIH 3.0 live (28th April 2012).

Follow me on Twitter @fatbidin

Follow me on Facebook /fatbidin or /zanazlee

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Follow me on Socialcam @zanazlee

Come throw eggs with me. It’s the democratic way!

Democracy. It’s happening!
By Zan Azlee

APRIL 27 — The heat of the general election can be felt. Rumours have been rife about it happening in June, then September, and now back to June again. Squabbles are happening between the political parties. Squabbles are happening among the NGOs and squabbles are also happening among the normal rakyat.

Each political party is claiming itself to be the righteous one. NGOs are pushing their agenda, taking advantage of the heightened social awareness. The rakyat are scattered. Some are just blind faithful to the side they are supporting. Many are on the fence while more just think that there’s really no quality choice.

Then there’s the media. We all know how all these years the mainstream media has always been tightly controlled (or self-controlled) in favour of the party in power.

But it looks like things are changing. Last year, I was a “live” guest on a radio station and I happened to mention Bersih 2.0. I was immediately interrupted and censored. This year, that same radio station, on the same show I was on, actually had a whole episode discussing the upcoming Bersih 3.0 quite openly and honestly. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Top ten reasons to oppose the Peaceful Assembly Bill

I oppose the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

Top ten reasons to oppose the Peaceful Assembly Bill
By Zan Azlee

NOV 25 — I disagree with the Peaceful Assembly Bill which is being tabled in Parliament at the moment and I know that many sane Malaysians also disagree with it. There’s been (and will be) tons of people writing and voicing their thoughts on the matter and here’s my list of top 10 reasons why I disagree with it: [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Democracy, Islam and Malaysia’s ruling party

I can’t seem to get BERSIH out of my head! Here’s my latest column at The Malaysian Insider.

Democracy, Islam and Malaysia’s ruling party
By Zan Azlee

JULY 22 — I think the ruling party in Malaysia has become a little bit confused about how they should be governing the country in this day and age. We’ve all heard it mentioned that they fight for the rights of Malays and Islam . . . so much so that they are beginning to sound like a broken record.

Now why do I say they’re confused? Well, they seem to have this thinking whereby Islam rejects democracy when it is really the opposite. They seem to think that the people should not have a voice and that the majority is what they determine instead of what the people determines.

By denying the people their right to express themselves and to determine how they are governed, as in the case of Bersih 2.0, they are really rejecting the Islamic way. But it’s hard to blame them when many of the Islamic countries around the world reject democracy too and seem to embrace autocratic rule. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Why did the police do what they did at BERSIH 2.0?

And this week, my column deals with… what else… BERSIH 2.0!

Why did the police do what they did?
By Zan Azlee

JULY 15 — The tough policeman with the huge muscles grabbed me by my shoulders and flung me towards the sidewalk not caring that I had a press tag around my neck. I struggled to keep my balance and not drop my camera. I barely managed to not trip over the curb.

“Halau cameraman itu! (Get rid of that cameraman!)” screamed the policeman’s other colleagues.

My crime? I was shooting a bunch of arrested demonstrators being led out of Tung Shin Hospital and through a police line. The detainees had their hands “cuffed” and looked pretty much subdued. However, as they were led through the line, they were kicked and punched by the police.

I was on assignment for The Malaysian Insider to gather video footage of the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9. But I couldn’t get enough footage of that incident since I ended up behind police lines along with other members of the media, cordoned off from what was happening. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Click here to see the rest of my coverage of BERSIH 2.0 (includes photos and video).

Fat Bidin… on assignment at BERSIH 2.0 rally, 9th July 2011

It was a proud day to be a Malaysian. And I was on assignment for The Malaysian Insider… shooting a video package of the event (the above video is the result). I was suppose to meet and interview Khairy Jamaluddin (UMNO Youth Chief), but he got arrested as soon as he step foot into Bukit Bintang (but his group numbers were too few and they marched too short a distance to have any relevance on that day! Sorry KJ!). I was also suppose to meet Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chair of BERSIH 2.0), but she was arrested too soon as well (her group, on the other hand, rocked KL!). I was also stuck at the Masjid Jamek and Pudu stretch and could not go anywhere else, so most (all!) of my coverage is from that area.

My former student, Isabelle Lai, is now a journalist for The Star! How proud I am! Muahaha!

Empty streets… before the rise of the Malaysians!

I love my job!

The police were all ready from the night before… and they look set for some arresting!

McDonald’s taking care of their customers!

The crowd was definitely more than 10,000 strong just in Pudu alone.

But they never made it to Stadium Merdeka. Chemical-laced water and tear gas made sure of that. But rest assured… the crowd’s voice has been heard!

Linus and I just got smoke-bombed!

Albert/Malek and I had to finally sit down to recuperate from the tear gas.

Woooo!! Scary men!

I saw some violent arrests being made on non-violent civilians. My buddy, film director Liew Seng Tat, got arrested and he said he was kicked and even hit after he was cuffed. If you watch my video above, you can see him briefly in the background being led away by police… and also more violent arrests on others. He also said he had a great time in prison and enjoyed dropping the soap at every opportunity he had! Hahaha!

People running away from the tear gas.

Dr Sivarasa Rasiah (PKR) and Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham (DAP) tried to negotiate with the police to allow them to march peacefully.

Their negotiations failed and they were arrested!

The line of riot police were there… and they cordoned off the media behind it. How the hell were we suppose to do our jobs? I managed to sneak up and do some shooting up ahead. I saw cuffed detainees who were being led away. And as they were being led away, they had to go through a line of FRU police, and through that line, they were kicked and punched even though they were cuffed. I didn’t get to shoot that long as one policeman grabbed me and chucked me aside (you can see it in my video above… you can even hear the police screaming “halau cameraman!”) and told me to go away or else.

Nevertheless, the crowd was massive and loud. I was proud to play my part in democracy.

Malaysiakini.TV caught me on video running like a little bitch! But in defence of my macho-ness… the police were firing in my direction!


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