Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases — that’s anarchy.
Freedom is about being able to formulate available choices, to argue over them — and then, having the opportunity to choose. So wrote the American sociologist, C. Wright Mills.
The draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) is the very antithesis of Freedom. That is why more and more Malaysians today are speaking out against it. To date, 64 people are still held inside the infamous Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping without due process of the law. And who knows how many more will be dragged through its portals kicking and screaming in defiance.
In recent months, our Malaysian hero RPK of Malaysia Today was incarcerated for the 2nd time in his life — this time, for 56 days. Teresa Kok, MP for Seputeh, was briefly a guest on some trumped-up charges, while Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was almost a guest after being arrested under the act.
Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, issued the order for Tan’s detention (purportedly ‘for her safety’ as well) but wisely made a U-turn on his intentions (so did the police taking her to Kamunting from Bukit Aman; they U-turned at Ipoh and brought her to Penang to be released instead). Although both were held relatively briefly, it has become clear that the act has gone beyond its intended purpose.
Inspired by the DAP-organised Freedom Run that had taken place a month earlier, we too, decided to add to the ever-growing voices of discontent over this dastardly act. While the Freedom Run was a a 350km relay that started from Klang and ended at gates of Kamunting Detention Centre, we decided to follow the same route but riding all the way in a group instead.
The DAP Freedom Run -- there were no lack of relay runners all along the route.
And so, on Dec 5, at 8am in the morning, we met up at Nan Feng Bak Kut Teh shop in Klang and started our ride from there.
There was no fanfare, no VIP to flag us off, no crowd to cheer us except for some curious Bangladeshi workers nearby who were probably wondering what the orange t-shirts were about. Oh yes, the t-shirts — they were a gift from Guan Sin, who writes at his airkosong.com blog.
Below is a pictorial essay of our ride:
From left to right: 2 mutual friends (unfortunately, I can't remember their names) who came to join us for the 1st day's ride, Meng, Joseph, me, Jorge ready to roll off outside a Bak Kut Teh shop where we had our pre-ride breakfast.
On the busy road out of Klang
At a Malay warung where we stopped for a drink, I couldn't help noticing this ad for a wife-pleaser drink supplement. It actually ryhmes!
Yin crossing the bridge near Simpang Ampat
Rolling along idyllic country roads near Sitiawan
Joseph flashed his t-shirt to all and sundry whenever he had the chance
3 bents in a row
At first day's end in Sabak Bernam, we stopped at fellow cyclist Low's sister's husband's father's coffee shop where we had a late lunch. Low, who could not join us for the ride, graciously offered his family house for us to bunk for the night.
The next morning, we made our way to Low's family home/sundry shop/coffee shop sum/bird's nest factory/oil palm estate to enjoy a home-cooked breakfast. Low's mother practically insisted on it. Here, Low's brother Michael, the resident barista is whipping up his famous 'Kopi kau' for us. It was hard for us to say goodbye but duty called...
From left to right: Michael Low, Meng, me, Yin, Joseph and Jorge taking a break from stuffing ourselves.
Enroute to Taiping, Yin took a puncture but Joseph (the man with the undisputed record of 5 punctures in one day when we previously rode from Taiping to KL) replaced the tube for him with practiced ease ... obviously.
At 6.30pm, we arrived at Taiping and promptly headed for the Lake Gardens where we treated ourselves to a big meal before our planned candle-light vigil at Kamunting
However, it was not to be smooth riding after all. On the way, a heavy storm drenched us with such a fury that we had no choice but to take shelter in front of a Courts Mammoth showroom.
Finally, the rain let up and we made it to the gates of Kamunting Detention Centre without further incident. It was still drizzling but we didn't care. The cops inside were alerted by our camera flashes and came out to investigate. We didn't care either.
Unfortunately, Jorge and I had to catch the 9pm bus back to KL so we couldn't hang around for too long. Just as well, we made it to Kamunting bus station with 5 minutes to spare. The bus was practically empty except for 3 other passengers, so we had the whole baggage compartment to ourselves. Jorge's big-assed recumbent almost didn't make it but after some shoving and pushing, it finally slotted right in. Whew!