The #LAWAN protest. The symbol of hope for a better Malaysia.
Organised by the Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (SSR), the protest was done in an effort to demand the resignation of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his entire cabinet, to ensure that the parliament sittings would be held fully and there would be automatic moratoriums for all. Held yesterday, on 31st July 2021, thousands of people comprising mainly Malaysian youth, gathered in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to take part in the protest. The entire length of Jalan Tun Perak below the Masjid Jamek LRT Station was packed with more than 2,000 protestors clad in black with their artistic placards showing their full support towards the protest.
Despite the SOPs being followed with social distancing and everyone wearing disposable face masks, they were stopped by the police who said they were not allowed to enter the historic square of Dataran Merdeka, as the protestors made their way there.
According to the organisers, apart from Dataran Merdeka being symbolic to Malaysians, they chose the spot because the SOPs could be adhered to easily whilst in an open space with good ventilation. These protestors had to resort to protesting by sitting on the main road — chanting while holding the posters and banners. This was truly a historic moment for Malaysians and a good example of organising protests in the midst of a pandemic.
Despite many Malaysians showing their full support both virtually and physically for the #LAWAN protest, some celebrities have surprisingly shown their disagreement towards the protest. Notable ones include Elfira Loy, Chef Wan and Linda Rafar! Let’s take a look at their comments:
This famous pop singer who’s been posting a lot about the Palestine – Israel crisis has decided to speak up about the #LAWAN protest too via a posting that has been deleted. In her post which was reposted from Lesya Toh, Linda focuses on the middle finger shown by the protestors towards the policemen.
Her sarcastic caption reads, “Do these youths think they are great? by showing their middle fingers to the cops?”
After deleting the one-sided post, Linda proceeded to post on her Instagram Stories. She said, “I rarely post or repost about current issues but I’m scared if I don’t share things like these, Allah would ask me about my role as an Islam. As an artist that has followers, I should help people out there to be patient and to continue worshipping Allah. Protesting would not give any benefits. It’s better to sit at home and correct yourself while praying. Allah will help, not humans. Don’t use your brain to do such things that are non-beneficial.”
To counter her statement, the co-founder of the Malaysian Youths for Education Reform (MYER) Movement, Rifqi Faisal tweeted the actual happenings of the protest. He said that the police started driving through the protest crowd after telling people to practice social distancing. The police proceeded to turn their sirens on when the protestors were singing together in solidarity.
Following Linda’s statement, local actress Elfira Loy decided to chime in while reposting Linda’s previously deleted post. In her story, she asked, “Is this the way to protest?” This clearly, displayed her tone-deaf attitude towards the plight of the protestors.
Many hours later, she posted another IG Story to express her apologies. However, she still stated that protesting could be done in other ways, instead.
Harith Iskander & Chef Wan
Commenting on Harith Iskander’s Instagram Post, Chef Wan stated that these protestors don’t seem to prioritise their safety and their family. He also stated that politicians come and go, subsequently indicating that the protest is of no use. This was later supported by netizens who stated that this protest would only tire the front liners further if a cluster emerges as a result of this.
It’s quite clear that these celebrities were uninformed of the precautionary measures taken for the #LAWAN protest. Individuals with Covid-19 symptoms are not allowed to participate in the protest and people living with high-risk individuals are not allowed to participate too.
The temperature of the protestors had to be taken every day before the protest and as a precautionary measure, the protestors were advised to take a PCR or RTK test 48 hours before participating in the protest. All the protestors were requested to double mask and bring an umbrella to facilitate social distancing. Post-protesting, the protestors have to self-quarantine at home and use a home test kit to stay safe.