KUALA LUMPUR: More than 1,000 people braved the air pollution from the smoke haze today to attend a protest rally here to demand government action on climate change.
A rally organiser said a petition was being prepared which would be presented to Parliament next month, with seven demands.
Among those at the rally was Subang MP Wong Chen, who said Malaysia should adopt a transboundary haze law to hold companies responsible for their role in climate change.
“We have to make sure that the transboundary law is airtight and is designed so that the directors of the companies found guilty are personally liable,” Wong told FMT.
“I would like to see the burden of proof shifting towards the companies. They have to prove that they are not involved.”
Wong said he would bring up the matter at the Dewan Rakyat in October to suggest that satellite imagery be used to show the areas affected by haze, and have the companies involved come forward to defend themselves.
The protest rally, organised by environmental group Klima Action Malaysia (KAMY), was part of a global climate strike today, begun by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who ignited a worldwide movement demanding action on global warming.
Protesters marched from the Sogo shopping centre on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to Dataran Merdeka, carrying placards that read, among others, “A livable planet is Article 0 in human rights”, “You will die of old age, I will die of climate change”, and “No Earth = No Beyoncé”.
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar, co-founder of KAMY, said: “Climate change is not a thing of the future, nor is it a problem 30 years in the future. It is happening now.”
One of the rally-goers, Nur Alina binti Hassan, said: “All these climate justice movements haven’t really evolved in Malaysia and I want to be a part of this.
“Greta Thunberg is such an inspiration to me. Seeing how one young lady can start such a big movement in all countries is amazing and I’m so happy to be part of the movement she started.”
She said that it is a huge irony that this protest is happening during a time when the haze is such a threat.
“I really like how we’re talking about this as it is happening, so we can pressure the government to do what they can right now, before the haze becomes worse,” she added.