Learn from Perlis school kids

Opinion  |  Azly Rahman
Published:  |  Modified:

I have always loved anti-war protests. In the early 1990s, I organised one in a Malaysian school when Desert Storm broke out. It was a good exercise in critical thinking, public speaking and poster-making for a school in Perlis

I stayed up till early morning, in my home library in Kangar, Perlis, listening to the news on Desert Storm. Having heard so much the phrase "Mother of Inventions" from the rock musician Frank Zappa, that night I hear for the first time the phrase "Mother of All Battles".

The next day, I helped the school organised Malaysia's first high school anti-war protest in the school compound. The New Straits Times came. They were attracted to this placard which read "Bush is a Coward" and "Bush is a Chicken" (At that time George Bush Senior was United States president).

The media carried the news. It was a great feeling to be able to express something of great significance and to go an extra mile educating children for peace, in a place as uncomplicated, laid back and pastoral as Perlis. These children were the best and the brightest of their generation. I am sure, wherever they are, they are still carrying the memory and the inextinguishable flame of peace and social justice.

Of course, a group of Special Branch high-ranking officers came down the following day to "interview me and my peace-loving student protesters".

I told them this: "I'd rather teach them to be pro-peace than to be pro-war. My role as educator is to also do that. Your children will appreciate this." They listened and learned, I supposed.

The following week, the government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad agreed to allow a national peace vigil in Stadium Merdeka to protest the bombing of Baghdad. What a contradiction!

That was 1990 - my year of teaching dangerously.

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