What message is Penang sending to children?

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“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

- Anne Frank

COMMENT | I read with dismay the news report of a Penang Island city councillor wanting the police to look into the matter of the participation of children at a climate change protest by NGOs hostile to the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) initiative.

I get that this project is controversial, with public opinion is mired in partisanship and there are people who support or oppose the project. This call by the city councillor for the police to harass the NGOs is typical of BN era politics, which was supposed to be in decline in Malaysia Baru.

The hypocrisy is evident. Back when Pakatan Harapan (in its various incarnations) held protests against the Umno/BN state, children were always brought along. Indeed, personnel of the state security apparatus expressed (to me) their irritation that protesters were bringing along children, claiming that these protesters were using children as some sort of human shields. My response to this was always, why would they need human shields?

If you go on social media, there are hundreds of pictures of children in Bersih T-shirts protesting with their parents. They are even pictures of infants in Bersih garb. When I attended the anti-Icerd (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) rally, there were children there too.

There is a discussion to be had about the role of children in protest rallies...

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