Malaysian food influencer takes to TikTok to promote racial harmony

Ang uses TikTok to share info on some of the best halal food in the Klang Valley with his followers. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: TikTok, the video-sharing app that has taken social media by storm, is fast gaining traction among Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ceddy Ang, 33, a food influencer and content creator of ‘Ceddy-CEO of Membebel’ on the app, uses the platform to share information with his followers on some of the best halal food in the Klang Valley.

He has some 168,600 followers on TikTok.

Penang-born Ang has a way with his viewers. With his down-to-earth manner, he warms up the audience with his ‘rojak’ or Manglish language, which is uniquely Malaysian.

As a food influencer, Ang displays a wholesome persona when interacting with viewers. A food aficionado and an entertainer at heart, he injects humour during his TikTok sessions, but still observes the sensitivities of his multi-racial fans. Just watching his video of a culinary dish is enough to tantalise the tastebuds.

Sharing insights on his TikTok journey, Ang said that he first started producing video content via the Twitch platform after serving as a marketing officer for several creative agencies five years ago.

“I started out as a content creator by focusing on video production including live video and alternating my content with YouTube and Twitch.

“Subsequently, riding on my YouTube account as a Lifestyle Vlogger, I decided to move on to TikTok to share information on several places of interest and restaurants that I visited with my followers,” he said.

“I noticed that most videos on food have been receiving overwhelming response from the public. Since then, I decided to focus on my ‘Foodvlog’ on TikTok,” he shared.

Food brings people together

Malaysian food is very diversified and greatly influenced by the nation’s rich cultural, religious and racial diversity, he said, noting that the diverse cuisine played a significant role in strengthening national unity.

“If there is one thing we are proud of (it) is the way we are very good at preparing our food. We are very protective of our food too, no other country can claim what we have or it will be a funny war on social media.

“But on a serious note, as a food reviewer, I am proud to see people from different cultures and races are willing to experience different food,” said Ang who now resides in Shah Alam, Selangor.

He said he was also encouraged by requests from his Malay followers who wanted him to introduce halal Chinese culinary heritage on his TikTok app.

As a Malaysian, Ang believes that the sensitivities of various races should be observed, especially during the process of explaining the food preparations from various races and cultures.

“For example, I would have my videos labelled halal, pork-free or non-halal as I do not wish to waste my Muslim followers’ time in personally identifying the status of food that I have introduced.

“This way, Muslim friends would be assured of the “halal-ness” of the food being promoted and would not have doubts when they eat at the restaurant,” he added.

So far, his Muslim followers have given him the thumbs up for explaining the halal status and pork-free labels in his video.

“I never expected my content to be seen by so many people. Initially, I didn’t take into consideration the halal aspect of the food I was eating but after getting tons of ‘Halal or not?’ comments, I decided to be mindful with my content,” he said.

Helping one another irrespective of race

Many businesses have ceased their operations since the government first imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March last year to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Others are either operating with a skeletal staff or are struggling to keep their operations afloat.

As a content creator, Ang also took the opportunity to use his TikTok platform to help the affected business groups by promoting their products for free to ease their burden, regardless of race and background.

“During this difficult period, everyone needs support from each other. I will not only be promoting for free but will also invite my followers to lend support by buying their products during the MCO.

“I have posted on Twitter before that I was looking for certain food from small traders and I am willing to buy their products and promote them on my TikTok app without any charges,” he said.

Ang said he also used his TikTok platform to create public awareness on the importance of mental healthcare during the MCO.

“As a mental health advocate, I have also asked my followers to occasionally get out of their house and get a breath of fresh air. Staying at home for long periods could cause them to develop Cabin Fever,” he said.

Spirit of unity on social media

For Ang, social media can foster the spirit of racial harmony and national unity among its users, especially when it involves major international events such as the Olympics and online games.

“Social media is often plagued with people’s evil nature, but when we come together, we really do like how we collectively root for our athletes during Olympics and how we want to snatch the number one spot in the Popcat game.

“You can also see how many Bumiputeras come together to hold accountable a Twitter user who referred to non-Bumis as ‘pendatang’ (immigrant), because times have changed. I’m happy to see people with ‘kolot’ (backward) and racist mentality slowly fading away.

“We definitely still have a long way to go in embracing unity and harmony on social media, but we are on the right track. Let’s keep the spirit of Kita Jaga Kita (we take care of ourselves) and put our differences aside because we are in this mess together,” he added.

While generally his followers praised him for the informative content, there were viewers who took swipes at him.

“Some viewers described my voice as high-pitched and effeminate. Some comments were rather unpleasant. I would either respond or just ignore them.

“Many thanked me for producing the content which has helped them overcome the difficulties during the pandemic, and I am extremely proud and happy that I was able to help groups in their hour of need,” he said. – Bernama

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