Banding together for unity

Banding together for unity
National pride: EcoWorld’s father and son team Tian Xiong (left) and Kee Sin proudly wearing the campaign’s wristbands.
PHOTO: The Star

PETALING JAYA - It has been more than a month since the #AnakAnakMalaysia campaign started and today marks the final day of the simple yet meaningful campaign.

What started out as a campaign to unite Malaysians and uphold the spirit of independence quickly grew and flooded social media, especially with images of the people creatively expressing their patriotism using the campaign's signature #AnakAnakMalaysia wristband.

Together, two proud Malaysian companies - EcoWorld Develop­ment Group Bhd and Star Media Group Bhd (formerly Star Publications (M) Bhd) - banded together to remind us what it means to be Malaysian and to look beyond skin, cultural background, race and creed.

The campaign stands firm in its belief that embracing diversity is key to success and with millions of shares of pictures with the hashtag (at www.anakanakmalaysia.com), it was evident that the campaign struck a chord in the hearts of Malaysians.

The Star sat down with EcoWorld chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, executive director Liew Tian Xiong and Star Media Group Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai to hear from them the journey of the campaign towards Malaysia Day and its impact.

Tian Xiong said the response to the #AnakAnakMalaysia campaign was beyond what was imagined.

When coming up with a Merdeka-Malaysia Day campaign, he said the group branding team had wanted to do something different.

"Over the years, we realised that fewer flags are being waved. We just wanted to do something significant and remind people that there is a lot to look forward to in this country," he said.

Although there were about 20,000 pictures shared through the hashtag, Tian Xiong said the total number of shares accumulated to about six million across all social media platforms.

"Everyone was posting pictures -no matter where they were. There were so many creative pictures," he said.

Tian Xiong's favourite so far has been the one where a father uses his fingers to form the shape of a heart on his pregnant wife's belly, signifying the coming of an "Anak Malaysia".

The campaign drew attention in the media with Tian Xiong even getting personal feedback.

"Everyone has been saying that it's a good campaign. We made 480,000 wristbands for this and there are still people asking for more," he said, adding that he always made it a point to pass these to his friends whenever they met up for their weekly football games.

"I've never been embarrassed to be a Malaysian. This country has a lot to offer and it gives you character.

"Even when I was studying abroad, I always wanted to come back," he said.

Growing up, Tian Xiong said being tolerant of other races came naturally, particularly when he was surrounded by people of various ethnic groups every day.

His father Kee Sin said as a parent, the key was to teach children to respect each other, not to look at skin colour, and to embrace diversity.

"Parents should let their children mix and mingle with different races and Malaysians should make friends, rekindle friendships and not stay within their own boundaries," he said.

In EcoWorld, he said diversity was their theme, which was embraced by all employees.

Growing up in Plentong New Village, he said it never mattered what race each child in the football field was then as everyone just bonded over the sport.

He believes that the reason for such troubled times in the country is because people have taken the country's richness in culture, race, and religions for granted.

Leaders, he said, should now think of ways to move forward.

A proud Malaysian, he said he always did his little part in placing Malaysia on the world map whenever he travelled.

"I always make it clear to everyone I meet where I come from and will continue to remind people," he said, adding that overseas, it did not matter what one's race was as everyone identified themselves as Malaysians.

Wong agreed with EcoWorld that the response to the campaign had been overwhelmingly successful.

"The National Day-Malaysia Day campaign struck a chord with all layers of Malaysians because the majority of us are tired of race politicians and, certainly, disconnected politicians who use race and religion to ensure their survival.

"This is not what most moderate Malaysians want for this country. Malaysians want to celebrate these two great days, not mark these important dates with fear.

"We must be able to go to the streets on Aug 31 and Sept 16 in a celebration of joy. These two dates are about Malaysians of all races, religions and cultures coming together as one people," he said.

It was shocking, he added, that some had chosen to draw and emphasise on the differences - whether real or imaginary.

Wong said they got daily calls from Malaysians wanting to be part of the initiative and, regardless of race, he could see the genuine joy and pride each time they put on the wristbands.

"We share this joy for our little part in making history for Malaysia.

"It was truly a people's initiative to spread the word of moderation and we hope to carry out a similar collaboration next year where, again, all Malaysians can make a simple statement of their love for our Malaysia which we truly love," he said.

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