An interview with Redhill Communications 

 

Towards the end of 2021, Redhill Communications conducted a survey to explore the roles of Southeast Asia’s youths as key drivers of economic, cultural, and socio-political change. They found that although many have been on the fence about how COVID-19 has been managed in the country, most Malaysian youths are still optimistic about the future, appreciating basic state provisions such as healthcare and education.

 

Now in its third year, Redhill’s ASEAN Youth Survey attempts to take a snapshot view of aspirations and concerns on governance, the economy, education, healthcare, life choices, and online activity – through the eyes of nearly 3,000 people aged 18-35 across seven ASEAN nations. We discussed the report findings with Pranav Rastogi, Managing Director and Imran Arif, Director of Content and Research from Redhill Communications who shared the issues, challenges and hopes of our youths.

 

Most Malaysian youths had a positive or neutral perception of representation in the country. How does this solidarity create hope for the future? 

This solidarity bodes well as it shows that youths in Malaysia now, more than ever, believe that they can take more active citizenry in the country. This is largely due to the youths today being more politically cognisant than ever before. Although youth in Malaysia have a decades-long history of activism, the rise in social media engagements and online discourses have opened discussions to wider segments of Malaysia’s youth population; including those who discuss politics in more casual terms, not just those who have been inherently more politically active than their peers.

 

In line with broader demographical changes, certain developments in the political ecosystem are very likely to draw more youth participation. For example, youth-focused and youth-manned political parties such as MUDA may help improve the youths’ relatability to their representatives, more so than with the youth wings of the country’s more established political incumbents. Movements such as Undi18 – which was instrumental in reducing the voting age in general elections from 21 to 18 – showed that youth-led activities can generate significant impact, which will help provide a base for more socio-political actions by youth in the years to come.

 

Most Malaysian youths remained neutral when asked if it was easy to upskill or gain new skills locally.  How can the youth overcome these barriers to skills development? 

Our observation about the more neutral perceptions is that – due to the youths growing up in a more digital age and hence having more natural digital affinity than previous generations – the need to reskill and/or upskill is not that serious, as compared to their older peers. This is also due to many youths entering the labour market for the first time, or at least are not as far along in their careers than their older counterparts to demand a drastic change in skillsets, especially when programmes for reskilling and upskilling in Malaysia have been largely focused on what is needed for digital economy sectors.

 

A larger conundrum that we see youths facing is general employability. Having grown up in a digital age, we believe that Malaysian youths would prefer to apply their skills and knowledge to more tertiary, services-oriented aspects of the economy, rather than secondary economy sectors such as manufacturing and construction (which Malaysia has long relied on outside labour forces for, which itself was impacted by pandemic lockdown and tightening of immigration procedures). This is a space we are looking at because, even though there was a general contraction in the services sector, this is being balanced against the rise of the gig economy and the use of digital platform services.

 

Overall, overcoming barriers to skills development in the new normal is not an onus that should be thrust on the youths themselves. We believe that many have a base of soft skills needed to adapt to a more digitally-focused economy – the greater question is whether there would be enough job opportunities in Malaysia for them to apply such skills to.

 

Most Malaysian youths were willing to discuss matters pertaining to mental health. Does this create hope for mental health to remain a priority in post-pandemic healthcare?

The pandemic has helped to drive mental health awareness, both globally and in Malaysia. However, while more attention is being given to spotlight the need to help people address mental health issues, it is still uncertain as to whether it will be made a priority, especially when compared to treating more observable physical ailments. We see that this is because – despite how the pandemic has changed how we look at it – talking about mental health remains somewhat of a taboo.

 

Additionally, healthcare infrastructures did not make mental health treatment a priority before the pandemic, which made it difficult for all segments of the society (particularly those who cannot afford to go the private route) to get the treatment they need. This makes it hard for healthcare systems to mobilise during disruptive crises such as the current pandemic, as they are already being addressed to counter the more immediate threat of the coronavirus.

 

However, one silver lining is digitalisation; more specifically, how healthcare systems are focusing on improving their telemedicine offerings. While the priority of telemedicine services is now largely on reducing the need for in-hospital care for physical ailments, we believe that the continued growth of such services can, in due time, provide a platform for providers dealing in mental health to reach more people in the country

 

Most Malaysian youths believe they are still able to handle education-related stress. How can education providers help tackle these issues amid pandemic stress?

One of the biggest trends emerging from the pandemic is e-learning. The positive side to this is that the pandemic has provided a litmus test to education providers to retool educational experiences for students to be more for the inevitable digital age, which would be better for the long-term. The downside to it is that this evolution has been accelerated (rushed, even) due to the pandemic – psychologically, this can impact students who have been forced into remote learning (amid the prevailing health and economic concerns of the pandemic) but are bereft of engaging in extra-curricular activities and socialising with their peers, both of which are important parts to the educational experience apart from just learning their curriculum.

 

The pandemic will not last forever and there is a light at the end of the recovery tunnel. However, education providers cannot solely look at how things will get better afterwards. The reality is that we are still living in a pandemic which will then move towards an endemic phase where e-learning will still be a part of the reality for many students. As such, more efforts should be placed on the aforementioned aspects of extra-curricular activities and channels for peer socialisation that were upended because of the pandemic.

 

Additionally, education providers – as well as the wider education landscape in Malaysia – should consider bolstering their offerings for students for this day and age, especially on how students can apply digital skills to the wider world, especially for future employment. This form of digital education has been talked about for years, but perhaps the pandemic will prove to be the catalyst to make it a reality for more students in Malaysia.

 

Most Malaysian youths agreed that building a family would be financially challenging. Will the pandemic make it harder for them to achieve other long-term financial goals?

At the onset, the pandemic has placed Malaysia in a very difficult economic position which has trickled down to the monetary impediments its people have in building for their futures. However, this is a problem that was exacerbated by the pandemic, not inherently because of it.

 

For youths to be able to realise their long-term financial goals – whether it is to build a family, purchase property, buy a car, furthering their education, planning for their retirement – more holistic economic fundamentals, such as whether wages are keeping up with rising inflation, are greater determinant as compared to more extraordinary circumstances such as the pandemic.

 

What the current crisis will eventually highlight is how quickly the nation can rebound from the economic setbacks of the past couple of years, but whether it will help to pave the way forward for a new normal that raises Malaysian consumer purchasing and investment power remains to be seen.

 

Most Malaysian youths disagreed or remained neutral when asked if domestic internet regulations helped protect against online bullying. Does the pandemic make it more challenging to tackle online bullying?

It is indeed more challenging due to our growing reliance on the internet. The pandemic has helped catalyse more online activity and with it, the inevitable rise of malicious actors operating via digital spaces. Unfortunately, it has become a pertinent issue in the country that must be addressed but we are thankfully seeing a more concerted effort by Malaysia’s government to manage the problem.

 

The drafting of such laws and their enforcement is just one part of addressing the cyberbullying problem. To combat it more thoroughly, the safe and responsible use of online platforms must be made a priority within the national education system. Beyond that, the onus of delivering such education cannot be left to just the system; it must also begin at home, where parents must also keep a watchful eye on how their children are engaging in digital spaces.

The “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” (Menstrual Hygiene is a Woman’s Right) movement launched in November 2021, calls for the support of the Rakyat, to contribute in a small yet powerful way to the campaign which runs until January 2022. The movement is a result of a synergy between KAO Laurier Malaysia, Yayasan Perintis Malaysia (MyPerintis) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) as a step forward in bridging the disparity gap in period poverty among young women in higher education institutions across Malaysia.

 

“We believe Malaysians view period poverty as a critical area of need and wish to be part of the solution. This campaign is inspired by KAO Laurier’s Kirei lifestyle philosophy and our mission to make life beautiful for all. A Kirei lifestyle is full of compassion, demonstrated by the inclusivity and care we wish to extend to the B40 community in universities. It’s why we do what is right, not what is easy. We put our innovation and imagination to the task of enriching lives by finding ways for people all over the world to live the Kirei lifestyle,” explained Kao Laurier Malaysia Marketing Vice President, Tan Poh Ling.

 

“Above and beyond contributing to the needs of young women from the B40 community in higher education institutions, we look forward to amplify discussions around period poverty that will further inspire efforts to eradicate the issue in Malaysia. We hope the Rakyat will join us in this nationwide initiative, in which their regular monthly purchase of sanitary napkins can now be extended to help young Malaysians within the B40 community,” Tan added.

 

The Ministry of Higher Education said, “Addressing period poverty is crucial in meeting the socio- economic needs of marginalised girls and women. This public-private partnership between KAO Laurier Malaysia, MyPerintis and Ministry of Higher Education is an example of all parties coming together, bringing value to the table, in order to address the challenge of period poverty. While the road towards addressing this multidimensional issue will be long, we believe a collective effort will see us progress towards sustainable solutions.”

29-year old Sahirah, a Sales and Marketing Executive from Kuala Lumpur, and 31-year old Ket, a Financial Manager from Damansara, shared insights on the concerning issue of period poverty and their message for women in need.

 

“I am very concerned about the period poverty issue that is currently all over social media, but I believe that many are still unaware of the unfortunate situation, that girls are unable to access safe and hygienic-sanitary products due to financial constraints,” Sahirah shared. “To all girls who are suffering, please know that it is okay to reach out to other people. In Malaysia, we have a lot of committed parties, NGO(s), for example, who are passionate about spearheading initiatives like this; you can always reach out to them via social media. You have to know that you are not alone.”

 

“I am actually quite surprised to hear about the period poverty campaign; that there are women out there who are facing serious financial constraints – to the extent that they could not afford to purchase sanitary pads. Some even had to opt for alternatives, such as cloth, to solve the issue. Our responsibility is to find the solution to help them,” said Ket. “Malaysians, including me, are always ready to help. So women in need should not be ashamed to ask for it,” he added.

 

Laurier Night Safe Brand Ambassador, Sweet Qismina shared, “As a young woman myself, it breaks my heart knowing there are young women in Malaysia who are hindered from carrying out daily routines and living life to the fullest on account of not having access to feminine hygiene care necessities. Nevertheless, I’m encouraged that we, as Malaysians, can play an active role to help address period poverty in a small way. As the saying goes, great oaks from little acorns grow (sikit-sikit lama-lama jadi bukit). Together, our simple contribution can make a difference in the lives of young women in universities across Malaysia.”

 

To learn more about joining the “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” movement, which runs from 15 November 2021 to 31 January 2022, follow @KaoLaurier on Facebook and @lauriermy on Instagram.

Hygiene care is a basic human right. However, over the past year this vision has been challenged as 47% of menstruating women found it more difficult to access menstrual supplies since the pandemic, according to a survey by WASH United, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (Waggs) and UNICEF. To address period poverty, KAO Laurier Malaysia has joined hands with Yayasan Perintis Malaysia (MyPerintis) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to launch the “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” (Menstrual Hygiene is a Woman’s Right) movement.

 

“For 27 years KAO Laurier Malaysia has built a legacy as an active educator of hygiene care in schools across Malaysia raising awareness about menstrual hygiene practices and making young girls feel more comfortable discussing this delicate subject in a safe setting amongst peers. The “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” movement is a timely effort that aims to raise awareness that period poverty is not merely a women’s issue, but a national issue. We view the matter as a critical area of need just as the Government does, which was evident in the tabling of Budget 2022. Today, we continue to extend our commitment to uplift young women in higher education institutions by addressing the lack of access to the most basic of hygiene care needs,” said KAO (Malaysia) President, Itou Hirofumi.

 

The “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” movement seeks to rally the public in a nationwide collective effort to destigmatise conversations and spark action around period poverty, specifically for the benefit of university students from the B40 community. Despite aspirations for Malaysia to progress as a high income and developed nation, period poverty remains a stumbling block faced by a significant percentage of women in Malaysia.

“Here in MyPerintis since its inception we aim to focus on campaigns that matter to young people primarily but in recent years we have ventured into many segments in one single mission to create a stronger and better Malaysia together. We have worked with KAO Laurier Malaysia on campaigns over the past 2 years and I am deeply touched with their passion in ensuring empowerment towards women in overcoming one of the longest standing problems, period poverty. Together with MyPerintis reaching out to the community and grass roots, we will ensure the highest benefits are channeled directly to the women in need specifically in this campaign for them in universities across the nation. Together we can do more” by YBhg Dato’ Lawrence Low, Founding Chairman of Yayasan Perintis Malaysia.

 

Research analyst at EMIR Research, Amanda Yeo, shares that with on-going financial distress arising from Covid-19, many people would prioritise spending on basic needs over menstrual products to cope with the rising cost of living. She observes that when people do not have proper access to menstrual products, they may not be able to concentrate on studies or work during menstruation. Worries about menstrual leaks or period pain may lead some people to stay at home and skip classes. If this problem persists, more young girls might drop out of school and more women might be out of work.

 

In October 2021, KAO Laurier Malaysia became a key contributor to the Projek Rintis Sahabat KafeTEEN Prihatin #HygieneKit mooted by Lembaga Penduduk dan Pembangunan Keluarga Negara [National Population and Family Development Board] (LPPKN), to support women impacted by the pandemic through the provision of basic hygiene care products and knowledge- sharing on reproductive health and wellness. KAO Laurier Malaysia saw the need to do more as a responsible corporate citizen, supporting the community in recovery, which birthed the “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” movement. Aspiring to fulfil the hygiene care needs of university students from the B40 community the movement hopes to ensure that young women will never have to skip class or miss activities on the account of not being able to afford sanitary products.

 

KAO Laurier Malaysia is pledging to donate a pack of its Laurier Night Safe range for every pack purchased by consumers, with a goal to donate sanitary products valued at RM150,000 to empower 20,000 young women in over 20 public universities across Malaysia. Consumers have the opportunity to contribute throughout the campaign period which runs from 15 November 2021 to 31 January 2022.

 

The movement’s collaborative partners, MyPerintis and MoHE, will serve as enablers to ensure the hygiene care essentials reach student communities in need at the end of the collection period.

Through its long-term Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme, KAO Laurier Malaysia has been a friend to young girls for past 27 years since 1994, with efforts dedicated at supporting and educating young girls in hygiene care. To date, KAO Laurier Malaysia has touched the lives of over 2 million students, from over 8,000 schools through the programme. Its latest movement is an extension of its 27-year ESG programme with primary and secondary schools, now evolving into an area of need in higher education institutions across Malaysia. A believer in empowering communities around it, KAO as a global group has invested over JPY 214 million in donations and JPY 847 million in activity expenses under its corporate citizenship banner within and outside of Japan in 2020.

 

“Our Kirei lifestyle philosophy is the inspiration behind our mission to make life beautiful for all. Together with our community partners and the Rakyat, KAO Laurier Malaysia hopes to lift the barriers that hinder young women from living fulfilling lives by making hygiene care more accessible. We invite all Malaysians to join us in this journey to uplift our young women in the community who deserve the basic right to hygiene care essentials and to the right to feel confident and beautiful in body and mind always. By doing so, we invest in a better future as a progressive nation,” Ito added.

 

To learn more about joining the “Kebersihan Menstruasi Adalah Hak Wanita” movement, follow @KaoLaurier on Facebook and @lauriermy on Instagram.

In these digitised times, none of us are strangers to the concept of cyberbullying. But at what scale does online harassment occur, how does it affect the people on the receiving end of it, and what might be possible solutions to the problem?

 

This was the subject of a recent Clubhouse discussion organised by the Content Forum, titled “Cyberbullying: They Asked For It”. Featuring guests Ain Husniza, Hunny Madu, and Hafiz Hatim, the session was a no-holds-barred conversation about dealing with toxicity online.

 

Sharing her experience of online gaming communities, student advocate Ain said that children were particularly vulnerable to abuse – from both predatory adults, as well as their own peers.

 

“Children are innocent; they go online thinking that they just want to make friends but there are people who will take advantage of that. I’ve received unsolicited pictures myself… and I’ve had friends as young as 11 being asked to send their own pictures to people,” she said.

 

Ain added that what her parents taught her about staying safe online, from a young age, had prepared her and protected her from online harassment to an extent. However, even she was not prepared for the amount of abuse that would be levelled at her when she chose to publicly speak up against a rape joke made by her teacher recently.

 

“I was shocked because people weren’t just attacking me over the issue itself, but they were making character assassinations – my personality, my body, just attacking me for being myself. There was a Facebook group of more than 100,000 teachers, discussing my case once it went viral – the comments really shocked me. They were body-shaming me, making comments about my body and sexualising me. It really shone a light on how some Malaysians are acting online,” she said.

 

Meanwhile, celebrity TV host Hunny Madu spoke about the pressure public figures face in trying to maintain a dual identity, expressing that this was especially so for women. While remarking that some celebrities may choose to minimise judgement from the public by holding back their personality on social media, Hunny found it best to be herself.

 

“I used to do a lot of hosting for TV and I was hosting a serious talk show, so my image was always about respecting the market. But it wasn’t the real me so I felt like I had a curtain over a fragment of my life. When I started working out, I realised I was comfortable with who I am – whatever I showed on Instagram is who you will see in real life. When I grasped that concept, I realised I’ve got nothing to hide. Take me as I am, I don’t want to hide anymore. I believe it’s about owning yourself, finding your power and being comfortable with yourself, if you want to be a public figure” she said.

 

Speaking from his perspective as a father, radio announcer Hafiz joked that he would never let his daughter have social media if he could but that would not be fair or feasible. “Frankly, the best thing I can do is monitor what she watches, guide and educate her. It boils down to parents sharing with their children about the potential threats that are out there. It’s all about our relationship with our kids and how open we are with them about all this,” he said.

 

All three guests also shared that the pile-on of hatred and negative comments from hundreds of strangers online can be overwhelming. Commenting on the nature of ‘cancel culture’ for instance, Hafiz said that it was not right for people to gang up on someone for one mistake on social media, going to the extent of demanding that they be fired. “Sometimes people don’t understand the full context of a matter, but they’ll just jump on the bandwagon. And I’m thinking: do we really want someone to get fired because of a TikTok video they made?” he added.

 

Ultimately, the end goal is to find ways to make online spaces safer and accessible to all. As Ain put it: “Everybody has the right to use the internet and feel safe while using the internet. But I have experienced more abuse online than I have ever done in real life. The internet is becoming more and more integral to our lives and we need a better approach to this problem rather than invalidating victims by telling them to just shut down the computer.”

 

The discussion is part of an on-going series by the Content Forum, to create awareness over its current public consultation for proposed revisions of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Content Code (Content Code). Drawn up by the Content Forum and introduced in 2004, the Content Code is a set of guidelines which outline best practices and ethical standards for content creation and curation.

 

“By having these open conversations, we’re hoping to encourage more people to give their feedback, ideas, and opinions about these revisions,” said the Content Forum’s Executive Director Mediha Mahmood. “This discussion for instance, is relevant to our proposals for mitigating online abuse and gender-based violence within online spaces. On our end, we want to gather as much feedback as possible because the more input we get, the more likely the Content Code will reflect the standards of Malaysian society, which is the measurement used for us to determine the best practices in the Code. At the end of the day, this is a joint community effort, and our way of creating safer and inclusive digital spaces.”

 

Listen to the full session on Clubhouse here.

Women make up 70-80% of all consumer purchases worldwide but continue to be vastly under and misrepresented by the mainstream media industry. Despite being key decision makers, this disparity in representation runs even deeper across different intersectionalities, especially the hijabi community.

 

In partnership with P&G Rejoice, VIRTUE APAC is looking to tackle this inequality, one emoji at a time. There are more than 3000 emojis in the world, with an estimated 5 billion emojis used every day, yet there is only one hijabi emoji.

 

The emoji was added in 2017 after a campaign led by Rayouf Alhumedhi, who realised that although there are millions of hijabis, there wasn’t a single emoji to represent them. #SeeBeyondtheHijab continues to fight for inclusivity with a petition for an emoji pack that includes greater range of expressions and personalities for hijabis to express their individuality with confidence.

 

The campaign is more than a call for inclusive emojis, it represents a greater call to foster tolerance towards the global Muslim community. Through the normalisation, and eventual popularisation, of hijabi representation in mainstream media, we can move beyond stereotypes to see, recognise, and celebrate them for who they are.

 

We spoke to Dini Lestari, Senior Creative, Virtue APAC, and Sun Park, P&G Director of Communications, Digital Media and E-Commerce, Hair Care APAC, about #SeeBeyondtheHijab.

 

What was Rejoice’s motivation behind driving greater inclusivity and representation for the hijabi community?

Rejoice has always been a supporter of young women, finding ways and means to help her simplify the small dramas of her life. A bad hair day is one example and helping them navigate this, so they can focus on things that are important, is what Rejoice stands for. We stay true to this value because everyone has their own drama in life!

 

By engaging with Virtue and together exploring the many ways we can help our consumers, we’ve uncovered this gap. The most common form of communication our consumers use today is in the form of text messages. And the easiest and simplest way to answer someone’s text is with an emoji. It’s a form of expression that lets others know a bit of who they are.

 

By adding more hijab emojis into the lives of our consumers, we hope that it will help make communicating and expressing a lot easier and more meaningful – which truly is what Rejoice is all about!

 

What are some insights from your research into hijabi representation which informed the campaign?

What came out of our research and talking to hijabis firsthand was an important yet overlooked cultural tension: once they put on the hijab, they become defined by it. They are seen as just another hijabi and people don’t really bother to understand them on a deeper level.

 

This can be largely attributed to the reductive and generic narrative of the hijab that is constantly being portrayed in advertising, media and pop culture. As a brand that stands for individual self-expression and being true to oneself, Rejoice set out to change this narrative by amplifying the richness and breadth of individual hijabis to get the world to #SeeBeyondTheHijab.

 

The creative breakthrough came to us when we studied the native language of Gen Z – emojis. While the world gets to use 3304 emojis to express their different personalities, moods and occasions, the hijabi community only has 1. And that is not enough.

 

Even cats have 9 emojis to express themselves!

 

Why did Rejoice and VIRTUE choose emojis as the medium and anchor the petition against World Emoji Day, to connect with Gen Z audiences?

P&G Rejoice and VIRTUE created Rejoice EmojiMe – an emoji pack that effortlessly showcases hijabis’ colourful personalities & emotions so that they can be seen beyond the hijab and recognised as the beautiful unique individuals that they are.

 

#SeeBeyondtheHijab is a call to transcend the reductive understanding of the community, and to instead recognise the unique individuality of each and every hijabi. We hope that this will be a first step towards more inclusive representation for otherwise under/ mis-represented communities in the media.

Rejoice engages with Gen Z by connecting with what matters most to them in the most authentic way. Emoji is the most popular language globally, especially for Gen Z. By petitioning for a more inclusive hijabi set of emojis on World Emoji Day, we rally the community together and foster authenticity, rather than the top-down approach of typical branded campaigns.

 

As we’ve seen with Gen Z’s approach to activism, speaking up or educating others about a cause does not have to evoke a ‘doom and gloom’ tonality. The campaign adopts an upbeat, energetic and fun tonality using emojis to promote an important cause, while motivating people to take action.

 

What can we expect in the next phases of the campaign?

To evoke real change, we have submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium to include more hijab emojis on the emoji keyboard. In the meantime, we launched a set of hijab emoji stickers on GIPHY, so our hijabi community can express themselves effortlessly. These stickers can be discovered via Instagram stories or Tik Tok by searching “Rejoice Emojime”.

 

How can brands creatively and authentically wield data to evoke real change?

Real change happens when brands use data to guide and steer their actions, and use creativity to take a leap to land an innovative way to solve a problem, or gain an alternative perspective at spotting an opportunity.

 

Data provides an informed and updated view of what’s happening now, to find cultural and audience insights and understand what matters most to our audience. Creativity enables us to look ahead into the future, a leap into the what-ifs. From understanding the data, Creativity turns the insight into tangible and actionable outcomes.

This is how Rejoice and Virtue developed the campaign. From understanding our audience through the lens of culture, we uncovered a real unmet need. The creative idea of Seeing Beyond the Hijab tries to address this need in a tangible way, evoking real change.

In conjunction with World Poverty Day in October, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Malaysia is teaming up with Grab Malaysia to raise funds in efforts to purchase a new dialysis machine that will provide NKF’s underprivileged kidney failure patients with a higher quality of life.

 

From now until 31 December 2021, Grab users in Malaysia can make a difference by visiting the GrabRewards catalogue in their Grab app and converting their points into donations. Every 800 GrabRewards points used will translate to a RM5 donation towards NKF.

 

Those who are interested in contributing towards the organisation’s efforts for dialysis patients can follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the “Points” function in the Grab app
  2. Select “Services”
  3. Select “National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia”
  4. Click “Redeem”

 

Malaysia has amongst the highest rates of kidney disease in the world, with over 7000 people diagnosed with kidney failure every year and NKF needs to raise approximately RM25 million each year to subsidise the cost of dialysis treatments for its patients at NKF’s 28 dialysis centres nationwide.

 

Find out more through NKF’s website or call 03-7954 9048.

In recent times, we have been witnessing an increase in severe weather events such as floods and droughts, wildfires, intense storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the intensity and frequency of these incidents are about to increase. These severe weather events can have lasting disruptions in the weather patterns, which are causing climate change.

 

While these events cause an immediate impact on the environment, agriculture, economy and physical health, they can also impact a person’s mental health. This is called climate change anxiety.

 

A recent landmark survey  found that climate change has caused distress, anger and other negative emotions in children and young people, who felt let down by their government’s inaction towards reducing the impact on the environment.

 

Weather events such as extreme storms or heat waves can lead to depression, anger, and even violence. The American Public Health Association recorded, 25 to 50 per cent of people exposed to an extreme weather disaster were at risk of an adverse mental health effect, with 54% of adults and 45% of children recorded to have experienced depression after a natural disaster.

 

Following natural disasters, psychologists have seen a rise in what they call distress reactions, which include things like: insomnia, irritability, increased substance use, and depression. These reactions are supposed to subside gradually, yet it is not always easy for vulnerable groups directly affected by the incident. They may, later on, show signs of PTSD and anxiety disorders.

 

Rather than feeling anxious about what is taking place around us, we can look at the following methods to cope with climate change anxiety:

The recent revelation made by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) on the cases of suicides recorded between January to May 2021, which amounted to 468, has turned the spotlight on the rising number of suicides amid the pandemic. In comparison to the annual total of 631 cases in 2020 and 609 cases in 2019, which averaged about two cases per day, this year, the average cases per day have almost doubled.

 

According to PDRM, the main reasons behind these incidents had been financial difficulties caused by debt, emotional pressure, and troubled family relationships.

 

The Ministry of Health meanwhile stated that in 2020, a total of 1,080 cases of persons who attempted suicide received treatment at government hospitals.

 

Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, issuing a statement noted that the pandemic has severely impacted the mental health of people. He had further noted that certain individuals are more susceptible to mental health problems when they are disconnected from their support networks, such as friends and family, due to the ongoing movement control orders, and would experience episodes of depression that could even lead to suicide.

 

Suicide Is Criminalised In Malaysia

Malaysia being a country with a Muslim majority considers it a sin to take any life including one’s own. Moreover, as an attempt to deter persons from taking their lives, the government has criminalised suicide under Section 309 of the Penal Code, where anyone who attempts to commit suicide and fails would be imprisoned for a term extending up to a year or imposed a fine or will be subjected to imprisonment and imposed a fine.

 

The law enacted in 1936 originated from the Indian Penal Code that was based on the British Common Law. While many other countries in the region that adopted the Colonial common law has by now repealed or has modified the section, we have yet to follow suite.

 

The country’s Psychiatric and Mental Health Services Operational Policy, while recognising suicide attempts as a mental health issue that needs treatment, indicates that when an individual who attempted suicide is referred for medical care, they should be placed under strict supervision until they are considered to be in a stable condition and would not harm themselves.

 

However, Section 309 does not indicate that the individual should be referred to medical or psychological care after or during sentencing. Which calls for its immediate repeal or appropriate modification by concerned citizens.

 

Since suicide is criminalised by law, it may also discourage individuals from reaching out to counselling services or suicide prevention helplines, fearing that their situation would be compromised and they would have to face legal action.

 

Decriminalising Suicide Is Suicide Prevention

For many years, the civil society, mental health specialists and various other non-governmental agencies have been pushing for the decriminalisation of suicide in Malaysia. Highlighting the importance of decriminalising suicide, and the progress that the authorities have made so far towards achieving it, Bar Council Law Reform & Special Areas Committee Co-Chairman and National Coalition of Mental Wellbeing member, Datuk Seri M. Ramachelvam, noted that; “The World Health Organisation has called upon the countries around the world to decriminalise suicide, therefore the moment is now, and we should not delay anymore”.

 

Adding that, in 2012 the government’s Law Reform Committee conducted a study on reviewing the penal code section 309, and in the same year the then Minister of Health had stated that suicide should be decriminalised.

 

Ramachelvam also stated that, in 2019, the Minister of Law had said that a bill would be presented in Parliament to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code, which was supposed to have happened in 2020. While in 2020 the federal government had said that the Attorney General’s chamber was studying various jurisdictions on the issue of decriminalising suicide.

 

Ramachelvam further noted that; “People who are contemplating suicide or who have attempted suicide never gets reported to relevant mental health authorities through the doctors or family members. Because if the incident gets reported there will be a potential criminal charge over the person who attempted suicide and survived. The stigma caused by the criminalisation of the act itself can deter the individual from seeking and receiving mental health related care, counselling or rehabilitative care”.

 

According to Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Consultant Psychiatrist at the National University of Malaysia, Dr. Lai Fong Chan, criminalising suicide does not act as a deterrent to prevent somebody from attempting suicide, and can actually have a negative effect, as it marginalises people who are in distress, from accessing help from mental health services.

 

Adding that; “When someone is in acute suicidal crisis, somebody who is crying out for help in that distress, it’s unthinkable that you would dangle this punishment as a deterrent saying ‘you are going to prison’. Emotional distress is not best dealt with a prison sentence”.

 

Dr. Chan pointed out that there are already laws in place in the Mental Health Act that if someone is suspected to have mental health issues that puts the individual at risk of their own safety, PDRM and the registered social workers have the mandate to bring such persons to a mental health service provider or to a health service provider for assessment and care.

 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Befrienders at 03-76272929.

 

Sign and share this petition to decriminalise suicide in Malaysia.

Cheap, plentiful, bad for the environment – fast fashion is much like fast food. We crave the convenience that allows us to keep up with the latest trends in the age of social media. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a few fast fashion pieces, especially because there aren’t many affordable options available. The problem lies within throwaway culture.

 

Throwaway culture is the misuse of fast fashion. Only the wealthy used to have wear-it-once wardrobes, but now many are able to afford clothes as single-use purchases. The pressure to look good on social media has people viewing outfits as perishable and disposable. This has caused an estimated 85% of textiles to end up in landfills each year.

 

What Is Second Hand September

Oxfam, a global movement that’s working towards a world without poverty, sees second hand clothing as a way to protect the planet and help people beat poverty. Their 30-day campaign, Second Hand September, encourages consumers to form more sustainable shopping habits by only buying second hand clothing all month.

 

How To Get Involved

 

Where To Buy & Sell

 

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Where To Donate

When we think of racism, we think of the direct forms of racial discrimination – the intentionally harmful attitudes and actions that are done in public. But racism isn’t always explicit, in fact, covert racism, which is more subtle or even unintentional, is a much larger part of the problem. This requires us to address our own individual actions and internalized racism when working to dismantle systemic racism.

 

What Is Internalized Racism

Internalized racism is a form of subconscious, or conscious, negative feelings towards one’s own (oppressed) race / ethnicity. From colorism to sexism, these implicit biases are rooted in the negative societal beliefs that are taught to be accepted as a societal norm.

 

Examples Of Internalized Racism

The acceptance of a racial hierarchy can be seen in:

 

The Dangers Of Internalized Racism:

The internalized racism you hold within yourself may not be your fault (social structures, colonialism and the media have taught us to accept these ideologies), but it is your responsibility to unlearn them. It won’t be easy and will require humility, but ignoring these social constructs will only maintain racial supremacy – limiting growth and change for racial injustice and equality. These harmful behaviours and biases also support the division within races, as well as amongst other races, and prevents individuals and racial groups from authentically accepting and loving themselves and their culture.

 

Questions To Ask Yourself

 

How To Combat Internalized Racism

The more we let our actions or words slide, the more we accept them. Instead:

Kitakerja.my, a social initiative focusing on matching Malaysian jobseekers in the Bottom-40 (“B40”) income bracket to domestic employers, is calling for more Malaysians to join hands in building an ecosystem of jobseekers and employers while at the same time assisting in the economic recovery one job at a time.

 

Kitakerja.my is the brainchild of two young Malaysians pooling their resources together to help fellow Malaysians in the B40 bracket who lost their jobs.

 

Kitakerja.my co-founder Choong En Han said, “Over the past 18 months, our whole nation has been focused on two numbers, COVID-19 new cases and death rates, but there is another number that has slipped into our lives without many people realizing it, and that is the nation’s unemployment rate.”

 

There are more than 770,000 unemployed Malaysians now in the country according to the Department of Statistics June 2021 report. It was also reported that about 100,000 Malaysians lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to former Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan in a report dated Dec. 9, 2020.

 

“We started kitakerja.my to give unemployed Malaysians primarily in the B40 income bracket a platform in which they can be matched to jobs offered by employers. Jobs have become scarcer given all the lockdowns we have endured since March 2020. Together with employers and jobseekers, we can assist each other while in our own way, help the economy to recover and progress, one job at a time,” Choong explained.

 

“We have seen firsthand how severely businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrenching employees is always the last resort for any business. We want to do our part in helping Malaysians affected by the pandemic to rebuild their lives, particularly those in the B40 group who are most vulnerable to financial shocks,” Choong added, “We need to act now and be a part of the solution and be the movement for a better Malaysia, otherwise, Malaysian household income levels will continue to deteriorate.”

 

Mohd Nizam Abdul Rahim, fellow co-founder who mooted the initiative with Choong, said, “Our resources are limited and we really need the help of fellow Malaysians who have the skills to help us build, promote and develop this initiative. Currently, kitakerja.my is matching jobseekers and employers manually but we are seeking solutions to automate the process.”

 

“We are inviting tech-based experts, trainers and Malaysians in general to become a part of this movement. If you have the skills and ideas to make kitakerja.my a better platform to help Malaysians in need, please talk to us. Your contribution can also be as simple as sharing our website kitakerja.my or message via WhatsApp to keep the conversation going.”

 

“Many are suffering silently, but it should not be this way. Malaysians should come together this time with the aim to rebuild the nation as we celebrate the country’s 64th National Day. Hopefully employers that are hiring could give our fellow Malaysians a chance in getting employed. With jobseekers being employed, the multiplier effect of increased private consumption would be kickstarted and ultimately everyone wins in the country,” Nizam said.

 

Besides matchings for B40 jobseekers, kitakerja.my also has plans to make them more employable through training and development programmes in which vocational skills will be emphasized.

 

Kitakerja.my is a nation-building and social initiative by Malaysians for Malaysians. Kitakerja.my will be a social enterprise once all the infrastructure is in place. Choong and Nizam are open to discussing possibilities that can help B40 jobseekers upskill or reskill. #jomkitakerjabersama

When I was in primary school, a classmate alerted me to the fact that there was something strange in my eyes. I mirrored his alarmed state and started freaking out, too, but quickly realised he was simply referring to the colour of my eyes. Due to my mixed heritage, I don’t look like a typical Malaysian and most definitely don’t look like a typical Malay.

 

Strange and unnecessary remarks about my appearance have followed me throughout my years in Malaysia. Almost like a dog following the scent of snacks hidden within the hands of its owner. Except that the racial comments I receive don’t ever feel like a treat – let alone a reward. As I attended a high school filled with (mainly) locals, I was actually repeatedly told that I’m ugly. With hindsight, I know that this remark probably stemmed from the fact that I did not look like my peers. As a teenager in the moment, though, my self-esteem was affected.

 

It seemed like I was never Malaysian enough despite the Malay (and Chinese) blood coursing through my veins. So, I assumed I would fit in easily in Germany but there, too, I was not German enough. This impacted my perception of self, specifically my self in relation to my cultural identity.

 

Exploring Malaysia & It’s Cultures

Initially, I rejected my culture because I was rejected by my local peers. Eventually, though, I realised how that only worsened the situation so I started embracing Malaysia and all its cultures – literally. From discovering Sarawakian history in Kuching to understanding Buddhist philosophy and researching almost every festivity, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of how diverse Malaysia truly is.

 

Yes, this diversity can create divides but it’s you who chooses how to address that divide. Will you choose to see others as ugly because they’re not like you? Or will you choose to find common ground – to understand how each of us claims Malaysia as home and how that bonds us?

 

Some Advice from Me to You

Biracial marriage is becoming more and more of a norm, resulting in more and more Malaysians growing up feeling alienated. To avoid feeling lonely within a crowd of people, I recommend: