BUILDING OR BREAKING RACE.
Written by Mariam Sadaf Imam.
On August 24, 2021, a non-governmental organization that champions care, love and affection prominently declared in its beautifully phrased vision “rahmah”, aired a special advertisement in celebration of Merdeka Day. The one minute video has gone viral with millions of Malaysians claiming that the video perpetuates racist narratives.
The video in question opens in the living room of a Malaysian family. The mother is attending to the house, the father is relaxing on a couch and watching videos, and the son is doing his homework next to his father. The father starts grumbling racist comments directed at the ethnic minorities in the videos. While the mother is quick to admonish the father, the damage has already been done. The young son’s malleable mind has already adopted the racist mindset from his father which is quickly reflected in his homework. The video ends with the boy saying that he wasn’t born racist but was taught.
While a disclaimer on the top of the video is being constantly displayed and reiterates that the racist words have only been said for filming purposes and should not be repeated, there is no doubt that the video has been done in poor taste. The video reflects a distasteful and negative mentality that Malaysians all over the country are struggling to change. The NGO definitely had its heart in the right place, but could not execute their vision properly. The outrage witnessed across the country is a testament to it. The video was a mockery of the very notion of rahmah.
Malaysia is a country that draws strength from diversity, but the heightened frequency of race-driven quarrels have led to the creation of an ugly image of the nation.
Myocho Kan, the founder of myKITA, had some strong opinions on the matter.
“Enough is enough! We demand strict legal action taken against the producer and all parties involved.”
His strong response stems from a place of love and passion that he has for a truly diverse and multicultural Malaysia. In the same breath he talked about how Malaysia is a land of law while expounding on the notion of integrity being the heart of any harmonious society. He also explained that integrity needs to be upheld no matter what while calling for those responsible for the regrettable presentation of racism to be held accountable. He believes that passivity and negligence will only breed validation for such mindsets.
He passionately implored the law enforcement officials to not practice double standards and called out the Opposition for its silence on the matter.
“Restoring peace and harmony must not be just a lip service apology, it must be an affirmative action. The rights of freedom come with responsibility.”
Kan scathed while citing legal provisions that could easily criminalize the culprits behind the video.
“A strong signal and leadership must be shown against racism, otherwise those leaders who take no action are equally guilty!
The NGO has since withdrawn the video from all of its social media platforms and released an apology. They also tried to explain exactly what they were going for. However, the damage has already been done. Sentiments have been hurt and lines have been crossed. What the NGO was trying to do does not matter, what it has done does. It is nothing short of a smarting wound on the multicultural and ethnically diverse society of Malaysia.