Ever since Greta Thunberg skipped school to demand climate policy outside the Swedish Parliament last year, more and more youth are holding strikes for climate around the world.
On Friday 15th March 2019, a global climate strike was held to further pressure governments into taking climate change seriously. Youth predominantly in the US, UK and Europe went to the streets to protest.
In Malaysia, a group called Bangkit4Iklim, inspired by the movement by Greta, also joined in the strike. I was aware of this through social media but I couldn’t join at that time as it was a workday.
I wondered what would happen if I did a work strike. I figured that I would be at a disadvantage rather than reaping benefits. So I just kept my eyes on the media.
Last Sunday, April 21st, I finally got a chance to attend a climate rally held by another youth pressure group Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY).
Just to clarify, Bangkit4Iklim and KAMY are two separate groups but they essentially consist of the same people. I have no idea why or how exactly the latter group came about but Bangkit4Iklim was formed in response to the global climate strike led by Greta.
Ahead of the rally which was branded as #MYClimateRally, KAMY encouraged people to join the rally at SOGO Kuala Lumpur and to fill up the online form of demands to be sent to MPs on Earth Day.
THE DAY AS IT HAPPENED
I left my apartment and walked to the LRT station. The weather looked promising. No sign of impending rain, thank God.
Sunday train times took longer than usual. I managed to find a seat in an almost filled train. It was going to be nearly an hour journey so I got myself as comfortable as possible and listened to a podcast episode (Kinjaz Podkast EP40: Hardship is Inevitable, So Love What You Do).
I reached Masjid Jamek to change train lines. Coincidentally, I met up with Reza who I knew was going to be there. He was carrying a placard that said “System Change Not Climate Change” — my favourite slogan.
We reached LRT Bandaraya and walked to SOGO which was a shopping mall right next to the station. That was where the meeting point was.
We found the organisers who were already at the main entrance of SOGO with more banners. I saw a handful of police officers and army people standing by. Soon, more people with banners and placards arrived and we were ready to rally.
A short briefing was done to let attendees know of the flow of the rally.
The speeches and chants began!
- Amalen talking about him having lived near the beach in Kuantan (my dad’s hometown woohoo!) his whole life and seeing sea level rise every year.
- Shaq Koyok, from Orang Asli Temuan tribe in Selangor called out to developers to stop the destruction of their land.
- Reza being frank that he doesn’t know how to stop our addiction to fossil fuels and eating meat as both are huge contributors of global warming.
Chants led by Syaqil:
Hey hey ho ho
Climate change has got to go!
Power to the people
People got the power
We’re getting stronger every hour
Alam sekitar milik kita
(the environment belongs to us)
Tolak, tolak pembalakan
Tolak, tolak penambakan
(no to logging, no to land reclamation)
The planet, the planet
The planet’s on fire
Malaysia bukan tong sampah
(Malaysia is not a trash can)
What do we want?
When do we want it?
We ended the group rally with a group photo. This climate rally was featured in a few news media:
Note that I was just a participant of this rally. I wasn’t part of the organising team. I’d like to say well done to KAMY for organising this and letting youth voices be heard. I admire your passion and dedication to this movement. I hope that our collective voices will be heard by the MPs.