At busy Ramadan bazaar in Penang, young Malaysians call for climate action

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Heads turned at a Ramadan bazaar in Penang when a group of young activists and environmentally conscious pupils gathered to highlight the climate crisis on the day of a second global climate strike. Anil Netto reports.

The global event today comes two months after the largest international climate demonstration ever.

Over 1,600 cities in 125 countries are witnessing climate strikes on Friday, 24 May. Activists around the world feel that the situation is so urgent that governments should acknowledge the climate crisis.

Once again Penang leads – with probably the only event in Malaysia coinciding with the second global strike today.

Young activists from Klimate Action Utara Malaysia (Kaum) joined pupils from the Sungai Ara Tamil Primary School and a few other children to call for greater ecological awareness and climate justice now.

Statements were read out advocating a green lifestyle, zero waste and more cycling as well as rejecting land reclamation, with the overriding theme being the climate crisis we are faced with. The multi-ethnic group, carrying placards which read “Go Green” and “Save the Earth”, marched around the bazaar while chanting: “No to plastic bags!” and …

“What do we want?”

“Climate justice!”

When do we want it?”

“Now!”

Many of the vendors and shoppers, some of them clutching lots of plastic bags with food, looked either amused or mildly curious as they watched the young people chanting and marching past.

Activists waved containers at the shoppers suggesting them as an alternative to single-use plastic bags. They also carried placards bearing the message “Penang tolak tambak” (Penang rejects reclamation). A couple of representatives from established Penang-based NGOs observed the event.

READ MORE:  Schoolchildren converge in Finland for world summit on climate change

A guitarist accompanied the group with songs of solidarity and environmental awareness.

Keeping an eye on the group was the school principal, Sangga Sinnayah, and Parent-Teacher Association chairman Vimalan Narayanan.

Sangga said the pupils had received their parents’ permission to take part in the event. Two of the pupils were actually celebrating their birthday today – but they had requested their parents to delay their celebrations as they badly wanted to participate in this climate event. “They are learning so much by taking part in such activities,” said Sangga.

The future belongs to these young adults and children. But they are under no illusions about the serious challenges that confront us in the present, especially the climate crisis – and they are not prepared to sit back and do nothing.

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