Speakers Square: One year later

Exactly a year ago, Penang chief minister, Lim Guan Eng launched the Speakers Square, which is located at Dataran Millennium, Padang Kota Lama.

Penang is the only state in Malaysia to have a Speakers Square which provides a space for the public to air their views.

On May 9, 2010, the first series of speeches were given from Speaker Square.

A number of NGOs like Suaram, Aliran, Sembang-Sembang Forum gathered to air their views. It attracted a good crowd of about 100 people.

 

Ever since, there had been gatherings by various NGOs or individuals, touching on different issues.

 

Some of the notable gatherings were a skit on the Freedom of Information Act, protest against the blockade in Gaza and a candlelight vigil in solidarity for Teoh Beng Hock.

There were also celebrations of different themes, which manage to draw a good crowd.

Father’s Day was celebrated at the Square on June 20, 2010, where senior fathers of various races jointly cutting a cake, with an extensive coverage by the media.

The largest crowd gathered at the Speakers Square was 320 people during the “Say Sorry Day” organized by Suaram.

This event was organized following the news that Malaysian youth, Yong Vui Kong, had been sentenced to death in Singapore for drug trafficking.

Occasionally there were fun and music at the Speakers Square, when there were some musicians singing songs on human rights, justice and solidarity.

Founding committee member, Andre Loh (right) was one of the regular musician in Speaker Square.

“The speakers come from various walks of life. The speakers and performers are apolitical. Speakers generally focused on issues which concern them and expressed their hopes and desires,” said Loh.

Most of the events in the Speakers Square has not created any problems except for the “Abolish ISA” gathering on August 1, 2010, where a few activist was arrested after a harsh exchange of word between the two opposing camps.

Speakers Square’s first year anniversary celebration will be on May 8, 2011 and will be attended by Lim Guan Eng and State exco, Chow Kon Yeow.

“Come and celebrate the anniversary of Speakers Square. There will be speeches, music and sing-along, and as one of the founding member, I will be giving a report of Speakers Square,”

“Speakers Square gave us the opportunity to express and share our love, hopes and desires for one another, in a spirit of peace and brotherhood,”

“Having said that, we should take cognizance of the impact of what we say on others. If we continue to focus on the needs of the people in what we say, rather than on our personal needs, Speakers Square will lead a long life,” said Loh.