WITH just a week to Malaysia Day, the #AnakAnakMalaysia campaign is on full speed, with fresh faces pitching in to make their voices heard.
The campaign, a collaboration between EcoWorld Development Group and Star Media Group Berhad (formerly known as Star Publications (M) Bhd), was kicked off so that we can remind ourselves of what it means to be Malaysian and foster the true spirit of unity.
Handfuls of celebrities, prominent figures and ordinary folk have made their voices heard, and now local beauties have joined in to don the campaign wristbands.
Miss Malaysia Earth 2013 winner Josephine Tan, 25, like most others, believes that love for Malaysian food is one of the main things that unite the people.
“Every time I travel overseas, I miss Malaysian food. When I come home, I just have to have my favourite prawn noodles,” said Tan, who goes by the nickname “Jojo”.
The Pahang-born model, who is also an events coordinator and budding entrepreneur, is best remembered for her appearance in cycle 2 of Asia’s Next Top Model, which was aired last year.
“I think we as Malaysians should learn to appreciate what we have right now, which is interracial harmony.
“The country might be going through tough times, but we the people need to stay positive for things to improve.”
Medical student Dhivya Dhyana Suppiah, 24, who was a Miss Malaysia World finalist last year, believes that wonderful food, dance, and culture in Malaysia are all the products of cultural diversity.
“I think the most important feature that Malaysia has is our multiracial society,” she said.
“My family is Indian, but I have relatives of other races, even Westerners. There are also Muslims and Christians! It’s like having 1Malaysia in one family alone,” she added with a laugh.
“We should never forget that Malaysia is not made up of only one race; it is made up of all races. If you hold on to that principle strongly enough, you can overcome anything.”
Dhivya’s fellow finalist, 23-year-old emcee and actress Olivia Shyan admits that she gets strange questions from people when they find out about her unique mixed heritage.
Shyan has Spanish, American, Thai and Chinese (Nyonya) blood in her, though her features look largely Chinese.
“People have asked me, ‘Where are you from?’ or ‘What does it feel like?’ But I’ll just answer, ‘I don’t feel any different, I’m just Malaysian’,” she said.
“So to me, being an ‘anak Malaysia’ means growing up here, knowing the difference between the diverse cultures, yet only calling ourselves Malaysians.”
For full-time model and actress Nisha Kumar, 25, who was a finalist in Miss Universe Malaysia earlier this year, being a Malaysian is a privilege because of the exposure to different cultures.
“I love how we have mixes, not just in marriages, but also in fusion food and even fashion,” she said.
Another thing that she is proud of is the way Malaysians are not only free to celebrate their cultural festivals, but also that of others.
“Every festival is a holiday for all Malaysians. That is what I love about this country, how we respect each other’s differences and how it brings us closer together.”
“We Malaysians should remember that our cultural differences are our strength. We should always respect, love, and embrace those differences. That is the secret to our unity,” Nisha added.
The same holds true for Miss Malaysia World 2007 finalist Grace Oon, 27, who works in digital advertising and runs a fashion and beauty blog on the side.
“Many of my Malay and Indian friends join in Christmas celebrations and my Malay friends invite friends of all other races over for Hari Raya open house.,” said Oon.
Oon believes that for the country to move forward, Malaysians need to stop playing the race card, forgive one another and focus on the development of the country.
“We don’t have to be blinded by all the racist talk. Just look at the example set by our neighbouring country, Singapore. They have advanced so much because they were willing to embrace their differences and work towards a common goal,” Oon added.
The #AnakAnakMalaysia campaign runs until Malaysia Day, Sept 16, and more details on the campaign can be found at www.anakanakmalaysia.com