Malaysia’s ‘Green Walk’ started with 70 participants on November 13 in Kuantan. After 13 days and 300 kilometers of walking across the country, the march ended in the country’s capital which was participated and supported by more than 15,000 people. The ‘long march’ was organized by the Himpunan Hijau group to protest the construction of the Lynas Advanced Material Plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
The proposed plant is expected to be the world’s largest rare earths refinery. But residents and environmentalists have long opposed the project because of its possible detrimental impact on the health, safety, and environment of the community. Early this month, Malaysia’s High Court has rejected petitions to stop the building of the plant which led various groups and individuals to organize the ‘Green Walk’.Part of the plan is to present the group’s demands to the Parliament and the Prime Minister when the delegation reaches Kuala Lumpur. But the marchers were prevented by the police from getting near the government building. The crowd peacefully dispersed on Monday morning.
The Malaysiakini team provided updates of the march during the weekend:
4.20pm – Jalan TAR – There is a bit of rain here but the crowd is growing exponentially. Latest estimate: 10,000.
4:53pm- Dataran Merdeka – The crowd is swelled to well over 15,000 now and they are currently grouped up near the northern most tip of Dataran Merdeka
Tan Kai Swee witnessed the spontaneous support given by ordinary Malaysians to the marchers:
Evidently, the Green Walk has taken on a life of its own.
The Green Walk has been well received by villages and towns along the 300km route. Malaysians from many other parts of the country are also participating in the walk. Many just came to provide financial and logistics support for the participants.
And a hero’s welcome greeted the leaders of the action in Dataran Merdeka:
After 14 days of walking, at an average of 25 kilometres per day, rain or shine and sleeping wherever the Malaysian public is kind enough to accomodate, the 300km Green Walk finally reach within metres of the Dataran Merdeka.
On this final day of the walk, 20,000 people turned up at Dataran Merdeka to give Wong Tack, the leader of the 300km Green Walk a hero’s welcome.
Below is a video testimony of some participants of the march:
HeeJW, who joined and blogged the march, gave Global Voices the permission to republish photos of the Green Walk.
Through the hashtags #greenwalk and #himpunanhijau, Malaysian netizens reacted to the Green Walk:
@szeming87 Everybody blame #Greenwalk causing traffic jam this morning. C'mon, the congested cause by gov block the merdeka square, not the people!
@danleemz Anyone saw any news of #greenwalk #himpunanhijau on tv news now? I did nt see any. Just because it was peaceful they didnt report it?
@sicfallacy If u said that e numbers joining ur #GreenWalk represent majority, then I'm afraid that we will have Kpop artist as our PM in the future.
@seademon #GreenWalk idiots coordinate using mobile phones and computers laden with rare earth metals
@j_rubis Turnout at #GreenWalk was awesome. Nice to see so many families. Glad I could make it. Managed to catch them at Taman Melewar too last nite.
@VersedAnggerik Remember Mahatma Ghandi abd his Salt March? The #GreenWalk is exactly that. We are peacefully protesting against environmental injustices.
@JustineMeiErn So much respect for #GreenWalk peeps who've been on foot for more than a week. Even kids & elderly. Welcome them 4pm at Dataran Merdeka!
@anonVG So just because some opposition politicians joined/support #HimpunanHijau, it makes the entire cause invalid?
@edmundbon The police behaved well today. No police to control traffic (ought not be the case) but better>stopping walkers.