The campaign to end violence and bullying in Malaysian schools just got a massive new ally - Korean superstar Choi Si-won.
The Super Junior member has been using his celebrity influence to help promote Unicef’s #EndViolence Youth Talk campaign, which aims to engage young people in forums around the world to develop solutions on ending bullying.
Choi was at the Malaysian edition of Youth Talk last week, where he spoke with 50 students and teachers, many from schools that took part in Malaysia’s successful #StandTogether National Kindness Week project earlier this year.
The event, co-organised by Unicef Malaysia and Digi, started with a series of brainstorming sessions with the students. They then presented their ideas to a star-studded panel which included Unicef Malaysia ambassador Lisa Surihani, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, and, of course, Choi himself.
R.AGE was given an exclusive interview with the wildly popular singer-songwriter-actor, and it was clear from the get-go that he takes his ambassadorial role very seriously.
He insisted on doing the interview in English - even though it’s not his first language - to make sure the message gets through to more people. He carefully rehearsed his key points with a translator, when he could have easily just done the interview in Korean through the translator.
Given the global scale of the problem, especially with cyberbullying, perhaps Choi is just the right person for the job.
How do you feel about being part of Unicef’s #EndViolence Youth Talk programme.
I’m so glad to be part of a global campaign, and this forum is very different.
I usually come to Malaysia with my Super Junior group members to work, but this time I am here as a Unicef Special Ambassador. So I am glad to be here and discuss an issue that is relevant both globally and in Asia.
I think this is a very sensitive and serious issue and I want to concentrate on discussing and finding programmes that can find a solution. That’s why it was really good that I got to meet the YBs (Nurul Izzah and Batu MP P. Prabakaran) and the students who came. Things will definitely get better and better (because of this forum).
Why is it important for celebrities like yourself to speak up about bullying in schools and online?
If your favourite celebrity, Michael Jackson for example, talks about an issue, you will be more willing to listen because you find it more interesting. I want to reach people in the same way especially because bullying is a serious issue in our generation. That’s why I am here. Celebrities are influencers, and we have a responsibility to do the right thing. I want to do more and I want to help people. So, if people want to talk to me about it, I will do it.
What do you think about Malaysia’s National Kindness Week campaign to encourage students to spread kindness every first week of April?
If I knew about the project, I would have focused on it (during the forum) because it promotes treating others as you want to be treated. I always believe that if you are doing the right thing, good things happen to you and it is the same with the bad.
I feel that some people can be very selfish. There’s a lot of negativity and anger in the world today. If you can make someone be kind, even if it’s just for one week, that’s a very good first step.
Do you have a message to all the students who attended today and to those who took part in the National Kindness Week in Malaysia?
You are already amazing, and I know you have a bright future. Just keep focusing on your studies or working on yourself and don’t give up. Never give up.
If you are a bystander (those who witness bullying but don’t do anything to help the victims), your part is the most important. If there are bystanders to help advise the bully and to stop bullying, then there will be no bullying. So stand up and speak up.
?? ? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???. ???? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????, ???? ??, ???? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?????. ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ?? ? ??? ??? ?? ??? ?? ?? ??? ? ????. ???? ?????, ?????? ?????. The first Youth Talk on bullying in Malaysia with YB Nurul Izzah Anwar and YB P. Prabakaran, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Lisa Surihani, UNICEF National Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr. Goh Chee Leong and Digi. One voice matters, one person matters and one life matters. We are change makers. I am with you. #ENDViolence #SafeToLearn @unicef @unicefmalaysia
How do you think we can help the bullies change their ways?
If I had the chance talk to the bully, I would say that they should try to solve their anger. Many people are angry and do not know how to express it or resolve their emotions, especially in this generation. So they (the bully) have to know the right way to do that.
If you are angry, think about this. How would it feel if your sister or brother were victims of a bully? Anger is not very good for your self-development, so find a way to solve your anger. Fight to solve your anger and not other people or you might regret it one day. Life is too short for regrets.
What is your message for young people out there?
I know it’s very tough sometimes, but don’t give up. If you have a friend who needs your help, who needs you to listen, lend them a hand. They will never forget it. So be together, and walk together. Remember that life is precious, and you are a precious person.* To support the #StandTogether National Kindness Week campaign to promote kindness in Malaysian schools, go to www.standtogether.my. The campaign was initiated by R.AGE and SP Setia, and supported by Unicef Malaysia, Digi, Petrosains, Teach For Malaysia, Study Hub Asia, 100% Project, and the Education Ministry.