Better to show unity in diversity


A scene from TV series ‘Gerak Khas’ featuring (from left) Zulkifli Ismail, A. Galak and Deen Maidin (who plays Detective Lingam). — Filepic

Videos can do more than just entertain, they can also help to instil a sense of belonging and togetherness.

They can indirectly influence the audience and shape the way viewers see and interpret the world around them.

Growing up, I never missed an episode of Gerak Khas, a weekly television drama that portrayed the day-to-day life of police officers.

I was invested in the characters, intrigued by the investigations and on the edge of my seat during the fast-paced action sequences.

I was particularly interested in the budding romance between Inspectors Mazlan and Aleeza, whose interactions never failed to make me chuckle.

But Gerak Khas also had an element that is lacking in many present-day local TV dramas — racial diversity.

The series featured Detectives Lim and Lingam, both Mazlan’s loyal sidekicks, who brought much humour to the show.

Lim and Lingam were equally dedicated to their job and never hesitated to lay down their lives to protect others.

The idea that not just Malays, but also Chinese and Indians were taking part in keeping our country safe was a heart-warming message.

Gerak Khas portrayed a Malaysia where skin colour mattered not and where people should be judged by their deeds

In the aftermath of the 15th General Election, harmful messages relating to racial relations have circulated on social media.

Several video clips racked up thousands of views on a particular platform, whose users comprise mostly younger adults and teenagers.

Instead of breaking barriers, the platform was being used to reinforce a sense of “otherness” among impressionable minds.

It’s unfortunate that our youth were exposed to such an unhealthy message, which ran counter to the spirit of our nation.

If this matter is not addressed quickly and judiciously, it could threaten our social fabric in future.

It does not help that there is a wide variety of online platforms available to access or spread such media content.

Not only does this make monitoring and enforcement harder, it also facilitates the formation of opinion echo chambers and mob mentality.

People are more likely to seek content that reaffirms their preconceived notion and their innate desire to fit in makes them susceptible to misinformation.

In the good old days, people obtained their daily dose of news and entertainment from the same sources, be it television, radio or newspapers.

Such fixed sources not only made content moderation easier, but also created a common point of reference that united people.

Dramas such as Gerak Khas helped to highlight our commonality and flesh out the multiracial aspects of Malaysia, albeit in a limited and somewhat superficial manner.

However, despite the commotion and racial sentiments that were played up after the polls, there is still hope among our young.

Some took to social media, urging agitated quarters to remain calm and for cooler heads to prevail.

An online video recently emerged showing a Malay woman lawyer standing up for fellow compatriots and touching on the importance of racial unity.

It is worth remembering that Malaysians are not so different after all and that everyone is equally affected by bread-and-butter issues.

We are all just trying to get by and one’s racial identity will not make him any less concerned about putting food on the table.

The polls may be over but we still have a long way ahead in nation-building.

It is time we put aside our differences and focus on unity.

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