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Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 9:56:15 AM
by christine cheah
The Chong siblings (Pamela and Vince) were bullied when they were younger.
Vince and Pamela Chong, both bullied as kids, are backing the R.AGE Against Bullying campaign.
ONE is a successful singer-songwriter, and the other is an up-and-coming radio deejay with her own breakfast show on Capital FM. Life’s pretty peachy for siblings Vince and Pamela Chong these days.
Things weren’t always perfect for them growing up, though. The two were kind enough to open up about their own experiences being bullied in the past, something they haven’t really had the chance to do all these years.
The problem with bullying is that nobody wants to talk about it, even though over 80% of young Malaysians have gone through it before, and a growing number are being exposed to it on the Internet.
That’s what the R.AGE Against Bullying campaign hopes to achieve – to get everyone to just spit it out.
We’ve all been bullied one way or another, even fabulous, successful celebrities like Vince and Pamela, JJ, Lil’ Kev, Daphne Iking, Amber Chia, Noh Salleh and all the others who have already pledged their support to the campaign.
So if you want to speak out as well, go to RAGEAgainstBullying.com. Pledge your support, and drop a pin on the “Map of Bullying” to show where you were bullied, and how. It’s a small gesture, but it can go a long way.
How badly were you bullied back then?
I studied in a small private school. I had a bunch of friends who all turned against me when a new girl came to the school. She would say horrible things about me to the other kids, and she somehow managed to get all of them to believe her – even my closest friends!
I had to sit alone for lunch, and I would cry alone in the stairways. The teachers saw what was happening, but no one stood up for me.
What changed things?
My mother noticed something wrong. I used to be an outgoing person and I loved to go to school but that year I became reluctant to attend school. So she asked me what was going on, and I told her what was happening.
She went to the girls to talk it out, and things were fine after that, but I had already suffered for a whole year.
Did that experience affect you?
Yes, it did. I became very insecure. In secondary school, I always felt there was still something there. I became sensitive, and when I saw a bunch of girls chatting, I always felt that they might be talking about me. But as time went on, I learnt to figure out who my real friends were, and not to bother what other people were saying about me.
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
I would have spoken out instead of holding it in, because there will always be someone there for you. I was lucky to have my family. If they weren’t there I would have been so depressed.
R.AGE Against Bullying is definitely a good campaign because people who speak up are being brave, and they are making people aware that this is still going on. By reading this, bullies will realise how much they hurt people and how detrimental it is to their lives.
Tell us how you were bullied as a kid.
I was a huge kid growing up, and had very low self-esteem. There were boys who would pull me aside and keep punching me. I was called names like “si gemuk” (fatty). This happened on a weekly basis from Standard One to Standard Five. I would have bruises all over my arms, and I always tried to play truant (to avoid the bullies).
The bullies would also try to get me punished. They would step on my shoes right before the prefects checked them. I had to keep pieces of chalk with me so I could make my shoes look white again.
But there was one incident I remember particularly well. My dad had bought me a new tumbler, and the bullies just grabbed it from me and threw it in the drain. It was raining heavily, but I still ran after it because I was afraid of being scolded by my dad.
When did the bullying stop?
It stopped in secondary school as everyone matured and I was growing bigger as well, but on Astro Talent Quest (a local singing competition), I was jeered at by some people just because I am mixed (Vince and Pamela have a Malaysian Chinese father and English mother).
It came to a point where I felt like going back to Britain, but when I did go back, there was racism as well!
The turning point came in Akademi Fantasia (the reality series that launched Vince’s career), because the fans seemed to accept me for who I am.
Has being bullied affected you in any way?
I still get flashbacks, especially of my time on Astro Talent Quest where people called me names. But overall, (surviving the bullying) made me a stronger person.
Getting bullied was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because I grew up to be a more understanding person. It taught me that bullies are not happy themselves, and the only way to treat them is to show them more love.
I had put on some weight again recently, and people on the street would just come up to me and tease me about it; but I would just smile and walk away.
That’s why I’m glad that there are campaigns like R.AGE Against Bullying now, because bullying is real. It happened to me.
> If you’ve been a victim of bullying, go to RAGEAgainstBullying.com for support and resources. R.AGE Against Bullying is supported by UNICEF, Befrienders, Childline Malaysia, Help International School, StarRFM and Churp Churp. YES is the telco sponsor.
Tags / Keywords:
Youth, R.AGE, R.AGE Against Bullying, Campaign, Anti-bullying
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