PETALING JAYA: To be Malaysian is to respect one another online and offline, says HIV research scientist Dr Lyana Khairuddin.
The proponent of the Bring Back the Kebaya movement, who participated in the inaugural #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk last year – wearing a kebaya – said the National Day season is an important time for Malaysians to reinforce the concept of unity in diversity.
“So much of our interaction today takes place online that we need to teach and allow our children to make friends.
“For instance, if I champion wearing the kebaya, I can’t just post pictures of kebaya online because then I wouldn’t be walking the talk.
“So I wear kebaya every day to work. I also wore one to the #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk last year.
“Offline campaigns like this annual walk are a great time for parents to bring their children along and show them how to represent and celebrate their cultural diversity,” she said.
Dr Lyana, 34, who is pursuing a Master’s in public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, in Britain next month, said she aims to continue with the discourse of a study done by the school on ethnic relations in Malaysia.
“In the study funded by CIMB Foundation, it is found that Malaysians have a lot of distrust among each other solely because of ethnicity.
“This is particularly seen online when young girls are body-shamed when they post pictures of themselves wearing cultural attire of any ethnicity,” she said.
She emphasised the need to teach children not to propagate hate.
“All we have to do is to get to know each other better offline.”
No prize for guessing what Dr Lyana is wearing to #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk 2017 as she joins over 6,000 Malaysians at the event today.
Another influencer who returns to join the unity walk is WOMEN:girls founder-president, and performing arts group Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen, who promotes the same values as Dr Lyana.
To Low, 40, the best way to spread the message of unity and diversity is to live by example.
“I don’t personally try to teach about unity and diversity. It is through my actions, my choice to speak the national language, clothes I wear, how I address different people.”
The mother of four sees unity through her five-year-old daughter.
“One day, she came home from kindergarten and recited the different prayers from various religions as taught to her by her friends.
“I was surprised and happy to see her in an environment that I came from. I am so glad she knows what it means to be an #AnakAnakMalaysia.”
Low, however, lamented that the integration of technology has not arrived at a point that allows it to speak on behalf of diversity.
“At this point, whatever you experience on your computer is singular so it is not shared. Even in the simplest form of communication like WhatsApp group chats, people are unable to take a conversation forward because of the different races in the group.
“They are not prepared to deal with the situation because they do not have enough practice,” she said.
#AnakAnakMalaysia Walk is organised by Star Media Group in collaboration with Eco World Development Group Bhd.
The lucky draw prizes up for grabs include a Proton Iriz 1.6L Premium CVT, a Gintell (M) Sdn Bhd De’Vano S Funtastic Sofa, Goodnite Exec Series 6” Achievement Mattress, Panasonic Merchandise, PNB Perdana Hotel and Suites on the Park stays, Spin Pro B1.3 Exercise Bike from Healthy World Lifestyle, OTO e-Physio Plus EY-900P, Soleus GPS Sole running watch and Kay Kay All Plant Sports Protein Powder by Inno Asia Distribution Sdn Bhd.
Sponsors include CIMB Foundation (gold sponsor), Panasonic (silver sponsor) and Proton (car sponsor).
Living overseas now?
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You can print it out, or display it on your mobile device. Selfies and wefies are also welcome.
E-mail your photographs and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org or upload the pictures and videos on your public Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account with the hashtag #AnakAnakMalaysia2017.
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