#PuisiDarurat and the art of poetic dissent
As of early this week, a total of 24 youths have been called up for investigation by the Malaysian police following a nationwide road convoy on Saturday (July 24, 2021), for allegedly breaching Covid-19 restrictions, despite all of them staying inside their own vehicles.
The convoy itself is in support of an upcoming non-partisan, youth-led street protest under the banner of #Lawan (Malay for "fight", or "resist") – against the government's mismanagement of the country amid the pandemic.
Ahead of this, a mini gathering was already held in the historic Dataran Merdeka a week before that, where participants waved a black flag which has symbolised resistance and carried effigies of corpses wrapped in white shrouds.
But another protest has also been taking place alongside the physical rallies – taking on a more abstract and artful route: the #PuisiDarurat campaign which reached its peak on the same date of July 17, but is still going strong on social media.
The campaign has been named after the state of Emergency, which was proclaimed in Malaysia allegedly to handle the pandemic but instead has seen freedom of expression getting more curtailed, even ahead of its expiration on August 1 this weekend.
How can local art, specifically poetry, move the public in this day and age? Are times of strife a fertile breeding ground for the scene? And how can activists leverage literature to mobilise a crowd?
We spoke with organisers of the #PuisiDarurat event, poets who participated, and others in the scene to learn more about using words as a means of struggle after the jump, for subscribers only. 👇
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