PETALING JAYA - Malaysians living in Hong Kong felt a sense of deja vu as they watched millions of Hong Kongers march in the streets in mass protests against the controversial extradition Bill in June.
The demonstrations had largely been peaceful with around two million protesters hitting the streets during the rally's peak on June 16.
But on Monday night, which was the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China, the protests escalated into violence with thousands of angry young protesters storming into the legislative council building and vandalising it.
Malaysians living there said they flashed back to the Bersih rallies as reports of passionate protesters, police brutality and assault against journalists surfaced.
From his apartment in Hennessy Road where the main protests took place, a finance manager who only wanted to be known as Wong could hear the crowds chanting from afternoon to the wee hours of the morning during the June 16 protest.
"It was surreal to watch ... from my window, I could see people all around my apartment building," Wong, 30, said.
He said the people were laughing and joking during the "passionate but light-hearted" protests.
"It reminded me of Bersih," he added.
Wong said just like Bersih, he and his Hong Konger friends had discussed conspiracy theories that the handful of violent protesters at the Legislative Council building were moles planted by the authorities or were paid to create a ruckus.
"At every protest, there seems to always be a select small group that will instigate," he said, adding that this group of people was not an accurate representation of the otherwise calm protests.
Two MRT stations away from Hennessy Road, consultant Chai (not his real name), who took part in the Bersih rallies, said despite the media portrayal, the Hong Kong protests had been peaceful.
He said he still felt safe on his daily walk to the office, adding: "If anything, I think the protesters here have been very clean and well organised."