‘Friday for Future’ climate change rally today now a talk, says organiser

Tourists carry umbrellas on a hot day in Putrajaya. ― File picture by Miera Zulyana
Tourists carry umbrellas on a hot day in Putrajaya. ― File picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 ― A global student movement fighting for climate change in Malaysia will no longer be taking its voice to the street today as the organisers failed to get clearance from the police.

Aroe Ajoeni Sulistyoritni who started the movement dubbed Friday for Future in Malaysia said the demonstration scheduled to start at 2.30pm outside the University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) campus in Kampung Datuk Keramat here is off as the organisers had not applied for a police permit in advance.

“So legally it's not allowed,” the 19-year-old Indonesian told Malay Mail when contacted today.

She related that for the past month, she has been acting alone in speaking out about climate change here but was recently contacted by 20-year-old college student Aidil Iman Adid, whom she described as an “influencer on Twitter” keen to join her fight, adding that the rally was supposed to take place two weeks ago.

“After he spread the word more than 10 are planning to join me.

“The problem was I just met Aidil two days ago and I applied for the permit yesterday but the police did not allow it,” said Aroe, a UTM student.

Aidil is known to speak out about environmental issues on social media; his Twitter account @sunfloweraidil records 16,800 followers.

Aroe, a self-professed environmentalist battling global warming said the group has decided to hold a discussion on climate change at a cafe in the nearby Gurney Mall at 3pm instead.

She added that the police also advised her any placards shown during the talk would be deemed unlawful.

Aroe said she was also surprised told by the police that even if she was marching alone, she must still request for a permit.

“I don't see a reason why they won't allow it. I just stand by the road by myself, as climate change isn't touching politics, it isn't sensitive to anyone. I'm not fighting for any political groups or religious group but if the police wants to find trouble with me... I don't know,” she said.

Aroe has been standing outside of her university alone every Friday afternoon for the past month with a placard to bring more awareness regarding climate change.

Her belief gained traction after she created a Twitter account and uploaded the Friday for Future photos two weeks ago.

One of Aroe's newfound friend is 26-year-old Baviniaraj Rajendran who works in a legal office.

She was the one who advised Aroe to obtain the police permit after the movement became more visible on social media.

“It's not the police's fault. We do have to give a 10 day prior notice but I also went through the Act and it stated that the organiser cannot be an individual under 21 years old,” Bavaniaraj told Malay Mail, referring to the Peaceful Assembly Act.

“But if we have a legal drinking age of 18, why can't we allow those under 21 to organise a peaceful assembly? I don't understand the discrepancy here. It is too broad. It mentions an assembly consists of a number of people at a certain place who gather.

“This could mean anyone, including a few friends in a public space,” she added, voicing her disappointment.

She pointed out that Friday for Future is non-political and it is not sensitive to anyone's religion. It goes across the board and it affects not just Mother Nature but also humanity itself.

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