Friday, December 16, 2011

The "Protester" is Time Magazine's person of the year

The "protester" was chosen because of recent street demonstrations in Arab countries like Syria, Egypt and Tunisia which called for regime change.

Syria protest
Egypt protest
Tunisia protest

Popular backlashes against economic turmoil and corruption among elites which sparked months of large-scale demonstrations in Spain, Israel, Greece and other countries as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement in major US cities and rare protests by large crowds in Russia against election rigging also resulted in the "protester" being named Time's person of the year.

Spain protest
Israel protest
Greece protest
Occupy Wall Street

Russian protest

For Malaysians, the most significant protest in 2011 was the recent street protest against the infamous Peaceful Assembly bill which even involved a walk by Malaysian lawyers.

Malaysian lawyers walk for freedom


KLCC Peaceful assembly gathering

Of course there are other protests in Malaysia worth noting like the one by students and prominent political figures like Nurul Izzah Anwar (Anwar Ibrahim's daughter) and Tian Chua after the suspension of a law professor from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

Nurul Izzah & Tian Chua

IIUM protest

There was also the shocking arrest of 15 students few days ago who demonstrated at KL Sentral. They called for the revival of academic freedom.

KL Sentral protest

The Bersih 2.0 rally made headlines all over the globe. Prominent figures like Ambiga Sreenivasan and Maria Chin Abdullah were among those arrested. Rally organisers claimed that Malaysia's electoral system is plagued with fraud - they want longer campaign periods, automatic voter registration and equality of access to the largely government-linked mainstream media.

Bersih rally

Time's decision to name the protester as the person of the year might encourage more people to protest everytime they're not happy about something. If this is the case, the Malaysian government can deal with it through their controversial Peaceful Assembly laws but what if it happens in other countries? Will other governments be tempted to come up with something similar to the Peaceful Assembly bill?

Obviously there are individuals who could've been Time's person of the year but given the number and frequency of protests worldwide, the obvious choice was the "protester".

Here's a list (in no particular order) of those who in my view had a good shout for the honour:

1. Admiral William McRaven (the one who led the US mission to kill Ben Laden)

2. Ai Weiwei (Chinese dissident)

3. Kate Middleton (helped bring life back to the royal family)

4. Gilad Shalit (Israeli soldier released after historical prisoner exchange with Hamas)

5. Gary Speed (former Wales and Leeds player and former Welsh manager who committed suicide)

6. Steve Jobs  (Apple founder)

7. That young Libyan who found Ghadafi (we don't know the name of the young Libyan who found and shot Ghadafi)

Do you agree with Time's choice or do you think someone on my list or someone not on my list should've won?

Let me know.