On Sunday, 21 April 2019, I attended a climate rally held by a youth pressure group Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY).
Ever since Greta Thunberg skipped school to demand climate policy outside the Swedish Parliament last year, more and more youth around the world are holding strikes for the climate.
In Malaysia, a group called Bangkit4Iklim, inspired by the movement by Greta, also joined in the strike. At that time, I was still working a 9-5 so I couldn’t join.
I wondered what would happen if I did a work strike. I figured that I would be at a disadvantage, sacrificing one out of only 14 days of work leave per year. So I just kept my eyes on the media.
The following month, I joined KAMY in their climate rally.
Just to clarify, Bangkit4Iklim and KAMY are two separate groups but they essentially consist of the same people. Bangkit4Iklim was formed in response to the global climate strike so it’s temporary or ad-hoc. KAMY is a grassroots organisation mobilising civil society to declare a climate emergency in Malaysia.
Leading up to the rally which was branded as #MYClimateRally, KAMY pushed out a relentless social media campaign to encourage people to join the rally at SOGO Kuala Lumpur.
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 on an almost filled train. It was going to be about 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” — one of my favourite climate justice slogans.
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 his whole life and seeing sea-level rise every year.
- Shaq Koyok, from the 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 to 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 tongsampah (Malaysia is not a trash can)
What do we want?
When do we want it?
We ended the climate rally with a group photo. After that, I got the chance to hang out and have lunch with the organisers and their friends. It was nice getting to know them in person.
Note that I was just a participant in this rally. I wasn’t part of the organising team.
It was an interesting experience for me and I’m glad that KAMY organised this and let youth voices be heard. I admire their passion and dedication to this movement.