It all started on the 14th of January. That was the day the Bawani v Sharifah video went viral on social networking sites. Everybody who had watched the video shared it on their walls and did not hasten to add angry and emotional comments. I was amazed. On a normal day, people rarely care about a video clip that is 19 minutes long. Friends started tagging me on their status updates, asking for my opinion. This spurred some intellectual discussion on the matter. It was a rare occasion to see people of my age giving extensive commentary on a current issue. However, I decided to tune off social media to work on my pile of assignments. Personally, I thought these rants would not positively impact the situation.
A few hours and a thousand shares later, I got a message from Yiing Huey, a fellow LoyarBurokker and UndiMsia mover. She said that we should get students to record videos of themselves sharing their views on the matter, starting with us. My frown turned to a smile. That was the best thing I have heard all day and somebody actually resonated with my views on the matter. I agreed to do it right away. Within an hour, we finalised our concept, set up a Facebook page, designed the cover/display picture and got the message out on our idea. Soon enough, we got instant ‘Likes’ from many of our friends before anything solid took place. We moved on to setting the ground rules and started inviting our friends to the group.
We went on in the span of the next day to post up our starting vlog posts on the page, sharing what we think about the situation and why we started the page we named after that famous forum itself – Forum Suara Mahasiswa (FSM).
In Yiing Huey’s Vlog, she stated that all views are hers. She stated that the reason why we created the group was to encourage a healthy space for discussions. Further, she explained how we can take something negative and change it to be something more positive and actionable. To do this, we participate in a forum to understand the essence of a discussion which goes beyond embarrassment or humiliation. The rest of the video can be found here.
In my vlog, I made an observation about the various views on the issue. I believe there is a need to compile all views into one platform to make the voices of Malaysian youths and students count. Through inspiration, we converted our talk into action. In addition, I stressed that this is not an issue of whether Sharifah should apologize or Bawani for that matter. It is a larger, ongoing issue of schools being an institution of indoctrination and the lack of focus on academics. The rest of my vlog can be found here.
Rebecca, our third administrator, also mentioned that this is not a new issue as it was a normal affair for many Malaysian youths to be silenced by such degrading speech by their elders. She went on to state how this is a failure of the education system, urging everybody to stand up and do something. She made some comments with regard to how this is not a matter of changing the government and hoping that something would change. More importantly, she emphasised the importance of our role as part of civil society. In her own words, “Although awareness does not act as a solution, but awareness does inspire action”. Her video can be found here.
Within hours, these videos above started gaining attention. It was not before long that it was shared by other people with positive comments. We did not expect this huge support. That brought in more traffic to the Facebook page. More people started to send in their videos on their views on the matter. Without a doubt, this also gained positive responses from viewers.
As an alternative, we encouraged writing an article for those who are shy. Many people decided to put their views into writing. These articles were a range of views from personal experiences to a hope for a better system. None of which were out to slander and attack either of Sharifah or Bawani. In fact, these articles sparked more discourse and mature debate. The debates sought not to win, but were a quest for the truth. A few of the articles even went viral on social media. One of which was reposted on The Malaysian Insider.
For a better picture, this graph shows the age-group demographics of our little social media movement and those who write and debate on FSM.
I am writing this article in honour of my generation. Unlike all that is said about us, we care for our country’s future. The culture of indoctrination has hindered my generation from voicing our opinion. This is because we were told to “focus on studies”, “don’t bother so much about adult issues” and been told not just by authorities but also by parents that this is “none of our business” and we should stop being so “busy body”. Some resist these criticisms and remain quiet because nobody has encouraged their views. Not until recently, (thanks to one of our fellow Minion & Co) Federal Legislation provides that university students are allowed to participate in politics, but voting age still remains at 21, implying that those of age 18 to 20 are “not matured enough”. Interestingly, majority of those who articulated their views in a matured manner are not qualified to vote in the coming elections.
All in all, our Facebook page has successfully demonstrated that a mature discourse can take place. We have inspired many of our peers to do the same – to make our voices be heard.
To all you reading on LoyarBurok, you should really check the page out. A compilation of the voices of Malaysian youths. Also please join us as well, share your views, spread this out to your friends, it is not over yet!