Online campaign in Malaysia to spread love, not hate, on Sept 16

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A campaign to spread love and positivity on social media to show the true meaning of being Malaysians will take place on Sept 16, which will coincide with a "red shirt" rally.

Former TV host and producer Rina Omar, who initiated the campaign, is calling on all citizens to post past or present pictures and stories of their family and friends under the hashtag #thisisourmalaysia.

"A lot of what has been posted online is usually insensitive.

"A lot of hate speech is going around and it makes me angry but then I thought why dwell on anger when there are so many things to celebrate?" she said on Sunday (Sept 13).

Also present were some of Rina's friends such as Global Movement of Moderates CEO Saifuddin Abdullah, radio host Shazmin Shamsuddin, pharmacist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, singer Peter Ong, singer-actor Chelsia Ng, publicist Mike Manicka Raj and singer Elvira Arul.

Rina, who grew up in a mixed-race family, said the hashtag was to "counter all the negativity and put positivity on social media".

While she did not condemn the red-shirt rally on Sept 16, she was concerned over it.

"It is creating division and fear," she said. "This is not right. We never had this problem before and this rally is making it worse. It makes me sad."

Datuk Saifuddin said there was a need to "reclaim the real Malaysian narrative" as there were many who were bent on hijacking it by inciting hatred.

"That is not what Malaysia is about," he said. "Malaysia is about unity, beautiful people living together, believing in co-existence and respecting one another," he said.

Ng said she would be part of the campaign as it was about spreading love, happiness and the essence of what being Malaysian means.

Ong said people should be reminded that there was so much going for them.

"I want all Malaysians to feel we are doing this together; that we are all Malaysians," he said.

Elvira, who grew up in a kampung, said she never knew what separation was about.

"We never looked at ourselves differently, we never felt segregated," she said.