Walking Green

Walking by the road
I walked 10 km last Saturday, 24th November. A fraction of the total 300km Green Walk from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur, a part of the anti-Lynas campaign against the setting up of the rare-earth processing plant in Kuantan, of which the by-product Thorium is harmful to the people and the environment.

I joined them at Hutan Rimba, the second last gathering point before they reached the final destination. They started the long march since 13th November; they had been on the road for a long 11 days. The oldest participant was 71 years old. She told her companion earlier, “If I died in the middle of the road, please carry my body with you to the Parliament.” And the Parliament was the final destination where they delivered the memorandum to the authority.

Walking past bridges 
The rain fell, the road was wet but the steps roared. Just like in the movie Forrest Gump, when Gump left his home to run, he was alone, and later some passerby joined him. Soon after, he gathered a larger crowd unexpectedly with him. It was the same with the ascetic leader Mr. Wong Tack; he started with a small group of 40 people. When I joined from Hutan Rimba, I strode along with a crowd of two thousand people wearing green t-shirts. Placards and banners cried out the declarations. Cars in passing honked to show their support. A few miles long, there were we, like a green snake slithering the road.

When the march arrived at Kuala Lumpur the second day, people joined in from everywhere, swamping the group with a mass of twenty thousand when they finally reached Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square).

Walking in the city
Arriving at their destination, 14 days later

The only difference between Forrest Gump and Wong Tack is, Forrest Gump started with confusion, ended with tiredness; Wong Tack began with enlightenment, ended up with a firm battle.

Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are playing a pivotal role in every campaign nowadays including this 14-day long march.  Once again, we saw photographs, texts and poems shared and spread fast, flooding Facebook with myriad of discussions and awakening thousands of Malaysians. The social media tools have been proven to be a potent weapon for the majority powerless individuals. History was made when social media brought about the rise of the people against the governments in North Africa and the Middle East countries in 2011. 

We condemn Lynas and the Malaysian government for their haste decision and the negligence of public interest, but to majority business organizations, corporate social responsibility just stops at the company level, or is only a formality to present to customers their concern about the society, or lasts until the Certification of Environmental Compliance (CEC) for their products as proof. Wealthy companies can put up a good show, but not many of them actually pour their heart into it. I definitely applaud those who do.

The Green Walk campaign changed their initial plan afterward; they refused to hand over the Memorandum to the Prime Minister, instead they demanded the premier to receive it by coming to the Independence Square on 26th November. What an excellent decision, in my opinion. The people are the boss. The Prime Minister is indeed the chief servant serving the country. As for corporations, if you have a heart, show it by going to your customers, not the reverse; and also show your heart of concern for the society by walking the talk. 

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Walking by the road I walked 10 km last Saturday, 24 th  November. A fraction of the total 300km Green Walk from Kuantan to Kuala Lump...