Weekend Twitter storm the beginning of a tempest to sink PSR?

Online campaigns will be used for resistance at a time when physical protests are difficult, says Khoo Salma Nasution, a spokesperson for the movement and member of Penang Forum.

(FMT) – An online social media campaign against the Penang South Reclamation (PSR) project has seen a tidal wave of support in recent days, adding to growing calls for its cancellation.

A “Twitter storm” initiated by users Penang Tolak Tambak on World Environment Day on Saturday propelled the cause to the attention of social media users nationwide, with the hashtag #PenangTolakTambak trending in Malaysia and their account managing to reach over 300,000 impressions in just a day.

Now, those involved hope it will show the Penang government that the issue has caught the attention of people nationwide and requires their reconsideration.

Khoo Salma Nasution, a spokesperson for the movement and member of an NGO, Penang Forum, said online campaigns like this have provided opponents a new avenue for resistance at a time when physical protests are difficult.

“With the MCO, we can’t physically protest, so we’re trying to do things through social media. It’s really good to see a local environmental issue trending on Twitter, I don’t remember the last time that happened, especially since a lot of people will look at this as a Penang problem,” she told FMT.

“We wanted the campaign to go national, because this issue affects everyone. It’s a huge environmental problem with the carbon emissions it will cause and the effect it will have on marine ecosystems, as well as how it will impact the livelihoods of the fisherman.”

Starting at 10am, volunteers started spreading the hashtags #PenangTolakTambak and #GenerationRestoration and retweeting its use, which allowed the topic to spread widely and drew the attention of NGOs like Urban Biodiversity Malaysia, who helped push the cause even further.

Khoo said the success of the campaign comes in part due to the growing calls of the project’s cancellation from a variety of sources, with Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and civil society groups all voicing their opposition over the last week.

With momentum building against the project, she said this won’t be the last time the movement tries to mobilise online.

“The response (online) has been very meaningful to all of us involved, it shows how much people care about this issue.

“Young people are very environmentally conscious and active on social media, so we hope more young people can engage when we do our next Twitter storm.”