Key Events That Took Place in 2020
The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM)
The demoralizing murder of George Floyd incited large protests against police brutality and systemic racism on the streets of America and digital platforms with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter trending. The BLM movement was founded in 2013 with its core mission of eradicating white supremacy and combating violence inflicted on Black communities by the state. Soon enough, it sparked a worldwide reckoning and protests erupted on nearly every continent in support of the protests in US whilst denouncing racism in their own countries and reckoning with some of its colonial atrocities. This movement garnered media attention in every part of the world and is one of the biggest historical events of our decade.
The United States’ Political Crisis
In January, President Donald Trump was faced with an impeachment trial on the accusation that he had asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, but was acquitted shortly after a month. He had also shockingly ordered an airstrike to kill Iran’s top General, Qasem Soleimani, which had instantly escalated the tension between the United States and Iran. Amidst the instability, the United States is beginning to see new hope as Joe Biden won the 2020 US Presidential Election, along with Kamala Harris being the first Asian-American Black woman elected as Vice President, making a remarkable breakthrough in the American history.
The story of climate change has unfolded over decades and today we find ourselves on the brink of a cataclysmic climate change because of the ignorant decisions made in the past. This year was marked by extreme weather events from the distressing and devastating bushfires in Australia and wildfire in California, severe flooding and monsoon rainfall across South and East Asia to harsh droughts in South America. The US also officially withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement the day after the elections on November 3, but President Joe Biden has announced his utmost intention to immediately re-join the agreement on the day of his inauguration.
With young climate activists participating in Fridays for Future all the world demanding world leaders to address environmental issues and Extinction Rebellion strikes demonstrating, the global economy is slowly going green. Eight out of ten of the world’s largest economies including China and Japan — two of the largest emitters in the world — have set goals to reach net-zero emission within decades.
Hong Kong Protests
Fueled by the strong outrage against the proposed extradition bill in 2019, the protestors had covered up the nooks and crannies of various Hong Kong streets for more than a year. This movement was stretched and perpetuated into the spring of 2020, though it was eased due to the coronavirus outbreak. Subsequently, this has led to the birth of ‘one country, two systems’, after China’s National People’s Congress formally consented to the decision to develop national security laws for Hong Kong.
The UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 and officially left on January 31, 2020. Beginning the first of January, the free movement of people and goods and services between the UK and the EU will come to an end. There will be a huge difference in the lives of many Britons in terms of travel, immigration, trade and many more. There will no longer be a role in the UK for the European Court of Justice which means there will also be significant changes legally and institutionally.
Fear and uncertainty engulfed refugees in Malaysia as online hate speech rises and xenophobia escalates particularly against the large Rohingya refugee population. According to a report by Al Jazeera, more than 2000 people have been rounded up by Malaysian authorities since May 1 in a series of sweeps through communities with high undocumented migrant workers and refugees in the name of combatting the Covid-19 pandemic. Detainees were taken to cramped, unhygienic detention centres. Fellow Malaysians expressed anger and frustration over the lack of compassion and lack of concern for the rights of refugees. They have taken it online which sparked a digital protest on all social media platforms with the hashtag trending #MigranJugaManusia.
Some of the protest demands were to stop criminalizing migration and release those arrested and to ensure all detainees are granted access to safe and full healthcare services.
The Sexual Harassment Bill
Sexual harassment is unfortunately an ongoing issue across the globe, and Malaysia is taking the initiative to curb this problem. The Non-Governmental Organisation AWAM (All Women’s Action Society) Malaysia has dedicated laborious effort in assisting the victims of sexual harassment every day, and most importantly, raising awareness on the Sexual Harassment Bill using various social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, as well as reaching out to institutions and impactful influencers. They’ve utilised educational approaches like infographics, storyboards, and online forums to further spread the significance of the issue, and to encourage meaningful discussions among all groups of people. Finally, it has made a huge step forward in December 2020 as the petitions to table the Bill was finally read in the Malaysian Parliament.
Parlimen Digital (Digital Parliament) is a simulated online parliament held on the 4th and 5th of July to propose, discuss and pass new policies and laws on economic and education issues affecting the Malaysian youths of today and also address the pandemic we are currently facing. This youth led initiative provided a platform for the 222 youth representatives to represent their constituents and voice out their concerns apart from increasing awareness of parliamentary proceedings. One of Parlimen Digital’s core objectives was to prove the feasibility of conducting a virtual parliamentary session while complying with the necessary restrictions due to the pandemic. This simulation has managed to encourage a diversity of perspectives and promote inclusivity with those from the OKU and Orang Asli communities among the representatives. Youths were hailed for their inspiring speeches and passion in pushing forward the issues they advocated for with exemplary behaviour with no derogatory remarks made unlike the ones seen among some of our country’s MPs. It is certainly refreshing to see our generation being politically aware and taking a firm stand to make change for their communities.
The New Prime Minister of Malaysia
A week after the shocking resignation of Mahathir Mohamad as Malaysia’s Prime Minister in February 2020, Muhyiddin Yassin, formerly the Minister of Home Affairs under Mahathir, is now Malaysia’s new Prime Minister. This marked one of the most unprecedented moves made by the Malaysian politicians, and the country now questions whether this will spark new hope among the Malaysian politics, or a higher expectation should be imposed on the government.
The Issue With Budget 2021
In November 2020, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul announced that the Malaysia government intends to spend more on development projects in 2021, with the objective to generate more employment opportunities, waste management, and to “restart” Malaysia’s economy. However, this was met with heated discussions among Malaysians such as the revival of JASA, salary cut for front liners and civil servants, and inadequate coverage to move Malaysia into a “green recovery journey”.
[Written by: Emma Chee and Cassandra Marcos]