Six months after its opening on May 4, 2010, the Penang Speakers’ Square is still drawing crowds. It consistently attracts crowds of about 100 listeners every Sunday evening. The biggest turnout so far was a capacity crowd of about 200 people on Aug 8 when the theme for the evening was Ramadan.
Mooted by a few members from civil society and NGOs early this year, the State Government agreed to the setting up of the first Speakers Square in Malaysia. Several meetings were held with State officials, the MPPP and Police and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng finally officiated the launch of the Speakers’ Square on May 4. Initial skeptics and critics predicted that the Square will not last more than a few weeks. A few were sure that the Police will arrest the speakers and put a stop to the Square. However these people were proven wrong. The Square has attracted a loyal following every week. There is a group of regular speakers including one from Putrajaya who comes up every month to speak. Even tourists and visitors from out of state have made the Speakers’ Square a tourist attraction. The Penang Speakers' Square is now listed in Wikipedia's speakers corners of the world.
|The Chief Minister officially launching the Speakers' Square. In his speech, the CM said "Speakers can even criticise the State Government".|
|Some prominent guests at the launch. Tuan Hj. Sulaiman Abdullah, Dato Eddy Choong and Dato Anwar Fazal|
|The Chief Minister thanking some Penang activists and members of the Speakers' Square founding committee in his office.|
Regular faces at the Square:
|Andre Loh, the guitar man|
|Dalbinger, one of the youngest speakers|
|Mr. Lim, another regular speaker|
|Alfred (left) singing with Andre. A good singer with a baritone voice, Alfred also speaks fluent English, Bahasa Malaysia and Hokkien.|
Past events at the Square:
|Youths putting up a skit to request the State to enact the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act|
|Protesting against the inhumanitarian blockade of Gaza|
|Candlelight vigil: Solidarity for Beng Hock|
|Celebrating Father's Day|
|A sing-along session|
|"Malaysians for Beng Hock" campaigners came all the way from Kuala Lumpur|
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THE recent spate of infants being abandoned by their mothers was a heated topic at Speaker’s Square in the Esplanade.
Speaker’s Square founding committee member Andre Loh said the lack of sex education was linked with baby dumping.
“Too much emphasis is placed on achieving academic excellence.
“We should educate children on sexuality and relationships from as young as the age of 8. Begin by teaching them to respect the opposite sex,” he told his listeners on Sunday.
“We often speak of human rights but we are neglecting the rights of our children and the responsibility that we owe them. Be patient with them, teach them. Check their bags, check their homework,” he said.
He advised parents to spend more time with their children and be aware of their needs.
He also urged parents to cut their children’s online activities such as Internet chat, Facebook and Twitter and interact with them instead.
“Working parents who send their children to babysitters on weekdays and only see them on weekends should spend more quality time with their children.
Another speaker, 35-year-old Mal from Putrajaya, spoke on mixed marriages.
“There is nothing wrong with marriages between people of different races. In fact, children of mixed marriages benefit more as they will grow up in a multicultural environment at home,” he said.