With #Lawan, are Malaysian youths next on anti-democracy propagandists' sights?
13 min read

With #Lawan, are Malaysian youths next on anti-democracy propagandists' sights?

Malaysian youth activists are now being targeted by foreign propagandists, duplicating the anti-democratic tactics used against their regional neighbours in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
With #Lawan, are Malaysian youths next on anti-democracy propagandists' sights?

On July 31, a public mass street protest was held near the historic Dataran Merdeka in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Hundreds of youths in Kuala Lumpur turned up, with organisers claiming the figure could be as high as 2,000.

The #Lawan protest was the first since the February 2020 gathering to protest the legitimacy of the Muhyiddin administration at its inception. It was also the first of that scale since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Malaysia.

Organised by a loose coalition of youth groups and civil societies under the banner of Sekretariat Solidariti Rakyat (SSR, Malay for People's Solidarity Secretariat), the protest had demanded then prime minister Mahiaddin Yassin (also known as Muhyiddin) to step down, for the Parliament to resume sitting, and for automatic loan moratorium for all.

The government did not take kindly to the protest, which came as cracks in the Muhyiddin administration started to appear. He would resign as prime minister last week (August 16), just two weeks after the protest following a political tussle with former allies UMNO.

Domestically, several organisers were later called up by the police for investigation. Cabinet members and those aligned to the government had stoked fears of a spike of Covid-19 cases coming from the outdoor gathering (which would later be dispelled by the Ministry of Health).

But internationally, the #Lawan protest would face the same attack against other pro-democracy, youth-led uprisings such as the ones in Hong Kong and Thailand in the preceding years: the accusation that they were merely a ploy orchestrated by Washington and its state actors.

In the days following #Lawan, social media posts accusing of a hidden American hand behind the protest had sought to discredit and downplay the spirits of Malaysian youths – many of them with links to pro-Beijing or Kremlin sentiments.

Who are those behind this attempt against Malaysia's democracy, and how may these attacks affect youth activists' struggle in facing an increasingly authoritarian and fascist government?

We talk with activists, political analysts, and learn more about the foreign propaganda against Malaysian youths after the jump, for subscribers only. 👇

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