Gone were the days where getting signatures for petitions meant going from house to house just to convince individuals to support the specific cause! In this digitalized era, popular petition websites such as Change.org are taking the world by storm. Although a huge number of people would rather stick to an age-old method of letting people sign pieces of paper (which are obviously not environmentally friendly), the existence of online petitions have revolutionized the way we’ve looked at signing petitions. To add on here’s something straight from the history books! Apparently, the first documented petitions were made by slaves building pyramids in Ancient Egypt who petitioned for better working conditions.
It doesn’t end there — in pre-modern Imperial China, petitions were always sent to an Office of Transmission where court secretaries read petitions aloud to the emperor. The best part? These petitions could be sent by anybody but high preference would be given to the petitions that were persuasive enough to impeach questionable and corrupt officials from office. Now, this year, with the implementation of the Full Movement Control Order (MCO) and National Emergency, we’ve been confined to our homes for an awful amount of time. So, here’s 6 petitions that went viral for all the right reasons this year.
1. Save SMK Convent Bukit Nanas
In light of the expiration of the lease of SMK Convent Bukit Nanas, a petition has been created to save the 122-year-old school from being taken over by irresponsible people and to give back the power of administrating the school to the Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur. The description of the petition reads, “The SMK Convent Bukit Nanas alumni, its current students, teachers and parents were greatly alarmed at the news that the school’s land lease which is expiring in September 2021 has not been renewed by the Lands & Mines department. A judicial review of that decision took place on April 19th and the school was granted a stay of leave with the next hearing scheduled for May 4th 2021. In the meantime, we urge you to support the school by signing on to this petition for the renewal of the lease. With its illustrious history, the 122 years old institution’s contribution to the nation cannot be undervalued nor disregarded. The school has produced a long list of distinguished women serving the nation in many different capacities. The school represents all that is good in education and more – moulding young ladies in selflessness, cultivating a sense of duty, the pursuit of academic excellence and meaningful non-curricular activities. SMK Convent Bukit Nanas occupies an integral part of Malaysia’s history and not renewing the land lease endangers the uniqueness & the richness of that history. We need to preserve it for the future generation of young ladies who aspire to pass through its corridors.”
As a result of the overwhelming support towards this all-girls school, established in 1899, the lease for the school had been extended by 60 years on 22nd April with a whopping 27,531 signatories!
2. #PendidikanUntukSemua: Increase Non-Bumiputera Quota in Public Education Institutions
This long-standing battle between ethnic minorities i.e. non-Bumiputera citizens and the current education system has been heavily talked about for ages. This includes the dilemma with the non-Bumiputera quota in the public institutions which hinders students from poor families to obtain tertairy education. Recently, a Tweet posted by an evidently racist user sparked outrage amongst minorities. In her tweet, user, @m4ryyyyyy, stated, “In the nutshell, it’s always the non-bumi university-students who are shouting about not getting a placement. First of all, Bumiputera rights exist as a win-win situation for the Malays who reluctantly shared their country with foreigners & there are Malays who didn’t get placement FYI.”
This further evolved into a petition, started by The Loud Asians, which demands 5 things — increasing non-Bumiputera seat placements, prioritizing B40 and M40 applications irrespective of race, eliminating poverty among non-Bumiputera citizens, building more public universities and providing appropriate support to teachers and lecturers. So far, this petition has obtained 50,573 signatures!
3. End Police Brutality in Malaysia
Police brutality has become increasingly rampant in our country. From victims such as A.Ganapathy, Sivabalan Subramaniam and Umar Faruq, our police system has failed us countless times. These victims died miserably while in police custody. Take A.Ganapathy for instance! This 40-year-old Malaysian Indian man was brutally abused when being held in police custody which led to his untimely death. He was beaten with a rubber hose, leading to the amputation of his leg and on 20th April, he passed away, after spending a month in the ICU. The police should indeed be held accountable for his death. Many netizens were pushing for the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill to be passed in Parliament. Hence, the birth of the petition, urging people to support the implementation of the IPCMC Bill.
4. Contract Doctors Strike
The pandemic has made our fellow doctors tired and exhausted. Battling with the Covid-19 pandemic every day is no joke. However, the plight of contract doctors has not been taken into count by the government. These doctors do not have a secure future mainly because they are categorized as contract workers. They could be laid off with no mercy after years of studying and a heap load of student debt. Only a small percentage of them are usually given a position as permanent doctors. Hence, apart from staging a walkout under the Contract Doctors Strike, a petition was made to demand support for these young doctors!
A month ago, the nation was shocked by the abuse of a Down’s Syndrome child under the guardianship of her caretaker at the Pusat Perlindungan Rumah Bonda. She was in a sad condition when the authorities found her with burn marks on her neck, back, arms and legs due to being splashed with hot water. The alleged abuser, Siti Bainun, upon further digging seems to have a connection with politicians specifically from UMNO as she herself, was an active member! This resulted in a petition being created to demand three things — the investigation should be done with no double standards, the abusers should be brought forward to the court and Rumah Bonda should be charged too due to the fact that it’s unregistered under the National Welfare Department.
Although these petitions might be viewed as a waste of time by the general public, it is necessary to create petitions as such to spread awareness and educate others regarding this matter. The signatories would eventually represent the number of people who agree with the stance of the petition, hence, making the process of seeking justice a whole lot easier!