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Historic moment as pupils from two Malaysian schools join in Youth Strike for Climate

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Anil Netto reports on a new wave of environmental awareness sweeping among the youth of southern Penang.

A wave of environmental consciousness is sweeping across young people in southern Penang Island.

Pupils from two schools in Malaysia created history this morning by becoming the first Malaysian schoolchildren to participate in the Youth Strike for Climate global campaign, which is taking places in a series of Friday protests around the world.

The Sungai Ara Tamil primary school organised a “postcard-making competition against climate change” this morning with over 100 pupils participating. Five winners of the postcard competition were awarded prizes and lots of small consolation prizes too.

Half way through the event, heads turned when another hundred pupils from the nearby Al-Itqan primary and secondary schools, accompanied by teachers, trooped in.

They had come to join in the youth climate event bearing the theme “Climate Strike for Better Future” in a rare but welcome show of multi-ethnic unity of purpose.

At first the pupils from the two schools, seated on the floor, chanted slogans in separate groups in the open-air hall.

The Tamil school pupils were joined by pupils from the Al-Itqan School nearby

But then they came together and enthusiastically chanted, “Climate justice!” “Selamatkan bumi kita!”, “Save our planet!” and “No climate change!” As they moved together as one group, rain began to patter against the zinc roofing like showers of blessing.

History is made in Penang

The Tamil school principal, Sangga Sinnayah, the enthusiastic driving force behind the project, said his school had worked hard to instil environmental awareness among the pupils with a range of green initiatives. (That is really another story.) He said teachers and pupils were concerned as they themselves could feel the weather getting hotter these days.

READ MORE:  Penang mega-reclamation: NGO wants project termination despite scaled-back plan

So Penang folks can take credit for being the first state in the country to have its schools participate in the Youth Strike for Climate global protest.

But the irony is that the coast off southern Penang Island is the site of a highly controversial land reclamation project spanning 4,500 acres. The reclamation site covers major fishing waters where 3,000 licensed fishermen cast their nets while a few thousand more unregistered fishermen and fishing enthusiasts will also be hit.

Southern Penang Island will also be affected by the six-lane Pan Island Link Highway, which will fly over – and degrade – the Sungai Ara Linear Park and worsen air and noise pollution.

The park in Sungai Ara is the pride of the local community, and its visitors are alarmed by the plan for the highway. The Sungai Ara River, which flows through the park, boasts the cleanest river water in the country. But if the adults have their way, the river will have to be straightened, and ugly pillars will sprout by the banks to support the overhead highway, marring the visual impact of the park. Fumes and noise from passing vehicles will disrupt the serenity of the park.

Balik Pulau, a short distance away, is also no longer the tranquil oasis it once was, as it has not been spared ‘development’ of the concrete-and-asphalt variety. The pace of this sort of ‘development’ is expected to quicken in the months ahead.

It makes you wonder what this new generation of young nature-lovers in southern Penang Island will make of the ecologically damaging plans cooked up by a small group of adults – and left behind as their legacy.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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Ravi Nair
Ravi Nair
15 Apr 2019 9.54am

Excellent and Beautiful to instill Concern on Climate change at a very young age. But what happen to the youth of UM, UiTM, UIA & all other hundreds of Universities in Malaysia??? No protest or holding card on Climate Change?????

14 Apr 2019 1.19am

NO climate change is what these children said…
Indeed there is NO climate change as there also is NO global warming ask yourself why the words are changed from warming to change???

That pampered 16 year old Greta didn’t want to fly becaus of CO2 instead she was driven in an electric car??? What crap… Any idea how many children suffer and die of mining the lithium for the batteries???
I guess the kids from Sungai Ara have no idea

Concerns about the southern island developments and other areas with over- development yes, there you got something real

Concerning about 5G needs much more attention, that’s destroying not only the health and lives from children, people and animals it will effect and ruin the entire planet.

Deyvanai Arumugam
Deyvanai Arumugam
15 Apr 2019 7.33pm
Reply to  Miami

Dear Miami, thank you for your concern on this topic.Yes this is very first intiative to create an awareness among our school community about current climate change and the impact. We have facing some crucial moment due to excessive climate change in our regional area. This happened after few mini jungles cleared up for some development projects on 2018. This phenomenon caused destruction on our banana plantation at school backyard. Students of SJKT SUNGAI ARA has a great awareness on recent pattern of climate changes and the consequences of global warming. Kindly visit the school to know further about our eco- projects. Regards.

Deyvanai Arumugam
Deyvanai Arumugam
16 Apr 2019 9.33am
Reply to  Miami

Dear Miami thank you for your concern. Yes our students educated well about climate change and consequences of global warming. Previously I have wrote a brief note as a reply to you, unfortunately it doesn’t appear here. Kindly visit the school to know more about ongoing Eco- projects. Thank you.

Aliran admin
16 Apr 2019 10.11am

Your earlier comment appeared below the other article about the youth strike for climate.

16 Apr 2019 5.57pm

Dear Deyvanai,
Thank you for your reply and invitation. I would love too and certainly will do when I am back in Penang. I am very into eco-projects and forest schooling. Have you heard of the Kin Tekos School in Russia?

Warm regards,

My concern for your pupils is the Friday Hype …the following something without knowing what the real reason is…too dangerous!!!

16 Apr 2019 9.22pm
Reply to  Miami

Dear Miami thank you. Its really great to hear about your key interest. Pardon me, till today I don’t have any idea about the school. Definitely, will check about Kin Tekos School, Russia soon. Our kids will be happy to know and hear from you. Hope you can pay a visit to our school when time allows.

My concern for your pupils is the Friday Hype …the the following something without knowing what the real reason is…too dangerous!!!- I can sense your worrisome and knowledge on aforementioned topic. Hope we can meet you in person to know further about it. Have a good day and best wishes for Kin Tekos Shool, Russia. Regards.

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