About 70 people are participating in the 300km march from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur to pressure the government to disallow the Lynas rare earth plant from operating and highlight other environmental issues.
Led by Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack, a seasoned campaigner against Lynas, the group assembled at Kuantan’s MPK Field 1 at around 8am before departing, cheered on by some 400 supporters.
Among the participants are 12 indigenous people of Sarawak, who are protesting against hydroelectric dams project in their state. Also participating are Bersih steering committee members Liau Kok Fah and Wong Chin Huat.
Prayers and coconuts
The stand out participant is a 60-year-old man, who is attempting to march the entire journey bare foot.
According to Himpunan Hijau publicity chief Lee Chean Chung, prior to the march, Islamic, Buddhist and Christian prayers for safety were held.
The group also stopped at a Hindu temple later to smash 50 coconuts as an offering in conjunction with Deepavali, which is celebrated today.
“Liao and Chin Huat also smashed eight coconuts to symbolise Bersih’s eight demands for electoral reforms,” said Lee.
Lee said the groups is expected to walk 30km today and they will stay at Gambang for the night. He expects fine weather for the day.
Police and special branch personnel were spotted at the event launch, but but they did not interfere.
Wong Tack (right, clutching water bottle) told Malaysiakini later that he was very excited because he did not expect so many people.
“Today is Deepavali and I feel that it is very meaningful. We want to walk from darkness to the light.
“In this 13 days, the people will be united and we will walk to parliament to make our voices heard,” he said.
The group is expected to arrive at the gates of Parliament on Nov 26. The group has planned stopovers at Maran, Temerloh, Mentakab, Bentong and Genting Highland along the way.