East Malaysians must reclaim their voices and help keep the peace

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

DECEMBER 7 ― Recent news of Sabah's STAR declaring it was cutting ties with Perikatan Nasional (PN) was not surprising.

With some political supporters playing a dangerous game, trying to bring back the spectre of 1969 and a former prime minister being caught on video saying questionable things, why associate yourself with controversy?

There is no context that allows a politician to stoke racial and religious sentiment and there can be no justifying it.

TikTok refusing to divulge who paid for the hate speech that marketed itself as “sponsored content” makes you wonder just where the company's allegiances lie.

Hate speech should be a crime. Does TikTok then protect criminals? Or does it consider hate speech protected speech on its platform?

Social media holds too much power and lends itself too much to abuse as well as the dissemination of propaganda.

Yet if it wasn't for social media, there wouldn't be terrified East Malaysians in rural areas who are now convinced they will be targeted for slaughter because some third-rate actor couldn't help sharing his murder fantasies.

Tourism Malaysia owes East Malaysians an apology for its past messaging that Malaysia is made up of three main races, erasing East Malaysian existence just because someone couldn't be bothered to do their research. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Tourism Malaysia owes East Malaysians an apology for its past messaging that Malaysia is made up of three main races, erasing East Malaysian existence just because someone couldn't be bothered to do their research. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

Tourism Malaysia owes East Malaysians an apology for its past messaging that Malaysia is made up of three main races, erasing East Malaysian existence just because someone couldn't be bothered to do their research. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

East Malaysians seem to be invisible in West Malaysia ― that Tourism Malaysia-encouraged brainwashing that there are only three races worth talking about has created a very specific kind of bigotry.

Lack of education and awareness about East Malaysia has created a huge demographic in West Malaysia that believes all Muslims are Malays and non-Muslims are only Chinese or Indian.

There needs to be better messaging overall but also effort from East Malaysians to be more visible.

Over the last few years I've been attacked online by Malaysians incensed when I say that Malaysia is not Tanah Melayu ― that Sabah and Sarawak do not fall under that categorisation.

My social media inboxes were full of messages declaring “this is all our land, shut up.”

What has it come to when Malaysians get angry over basic history and geography?

It is time for East Malaysians to speak up even louder now ― to be seen, acknowledged and included in all spheres whether political or cultural.

Tourism Malaysia also owes East Malaysians an apology for its past messaging that Malaysia is made up of three main races, erasing East Malaysian existence just because someone couldn't be bothered to do their research.

It is also time for West Malaysian-based parties to work on outreach and stop making East Malaysians feel they only matter when it's time for their votes.

In the meantime, I will, despite my extreme distaste for TikTok and its lack of ethics, be learning this thing called online video because the only way to fight misinformation is to bury it with truth and hopefully, cat videos.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.