Think tank confronts thorny racial questions in campaign to promote national unity and harmony

Keertan Ayamany
·2-min read
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) has launched a media campaign to promote national unity and inter-racial harmony. — Screengrab from kitabukankami.com
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) has launched a media campaign to promote national unity and inter-racial harmony. — Screengrab from kitabukankami.com

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) today launched a media campaign to promote national unity and inter-racial harmony in Malaysia, in conjunction with the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The think tank launched an online campaign named Kita, Bukan Kami with a page that allows visitors to make a pledge to be accepting and inclusive of all Malaysians regardless of their differences.

“Discrimination of any kind, be it on the basis of race, religion, gender and others, always stems from a lack of understanding of the perceived ‘other’, which then leads to suspicion and fear. It is this barrier of fear that we need to overcome,” said Tricia Yeoh, chief executive officer of Ideas, in a statement.

“The Kita, Bukan Kami movement is a positive step towards creating safe spaces where race relations can be discussed in a healthy manner. People might disagree with each other, but accepting differences and learning from each other is an integral part of overcoming fear”, she added.

Ideas is also working with media organisation, The Fourth, to produce a video series that aims to “promote and model empathetic conversations” on current divisive issues.

The first video in the series was posted on Youtube today, showcasing a discussion by a multiracial panel including Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan.

The discussion questioned matters such as “Is it racist to include a race criteria and job advertisements?” and “Is it fair for landlords to choose tenants based on race?”.

Such topics have caused racial tensions in the country previously, as there are different albeit strong views, some supporting landlords and employers who may have requirements based on language or religious restrictions.

Others say such “requirements” are often a guise of racism.

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