Unity Amongst Malaysians

Faye Lim, founder of The Rojak Projek shares how to remain united and inclusive to the diverse communities in Malaysia.

Moving to Malaysia was an exciting experience for me. I’d heard that Malaysia is a united home of a diverse range of people which makes the country so culturally rich — a fact known throughout the world. As a foreigner, my first impression of Malaysia and its people was the patriotism that ran through every Malaysian, the pride for their respective culture, and of course… the FOOD!! 

After living in Malaysia for over two years, I can proudly call it my second home — a country I’d want to be a part of and settle down in. I’ve also been able to see a deeper picture of real issues that lie beneath the surface that some aren’t as comfortable discussing openly in regard to unity amongst the Malaysian people.

Since the start of the Movement Control Order early 2020, we’ve started seeing a lot of initiatives brought forward by the public to stand up for one another and support their fellow Malaysians such as the white flag movement which united Malaysians, setting aside any racial or cultural differences. 

Though the unity among Malaysians is especially noticeable and called out more during these times of crisis, in truth, we've always been united. But are we aware of this?

The Rojak Projek (TRP) is an initiative by TRP Creatives, a social enterprise that focuses on creating positive understanding and awareness in Malaysia’s unity, culture, and diversity through creativity.

But for this to happen, a sense of openness to respect towards diversity needs to be within each one of us. And once we’re able to respect this diversity, we’re able to embrace total unity.

I’ve had the honour of interviewing Ms. Faye Lim, co-founder of TRP, to discuss some of the issues regarding unity in Malaysia.

Unity Amongst Malaysians

Q: With Malaysia being such a culturally diverse country, what's your view on unity amongst Malaysians?

A: To me, Malaysia means all of us being together. For almost 60 years our country has formed, although we’re proud to be Malaysians, the truth is we, as a whole nation, still don’t know each other well enough. I believe that it’s time for us to get to know each other better. That being said, the pandemic has definitely made it harder for everyone to do things together physically — whether it’s being in university or travelling, due to the restrictions.

In early 2021, TRP created a puzzle template for the youths to conduct an interview with our unheard communities. With the help of Taylor’s SHINE Ambassadors, we had some youth volunteers involved in our projects to bridge this gap. What we’re aiming to build for these young people is an additional sense that brings revelation to them as they see through the hearts of the unheard communities. 

This heightens their sensitivity because now they get to experience knowing others differently, allowing them to create more empathy. In fact, this is the best time to change perception in this creative journey under TRP.

Q: What does ‘a complete unity in Malaysia’ mean for all Malaysians and where do you see TRP playing a role in that?

A: There are three ways unity is achieved and strengthened.

The first is commitment which is what unity is at its core. You don’t have to get along or agree with everyone, but you’ve to be committed. There’ll be moments when we can disagree, but if we’re committed, it’ll pull us back together to sort our opinions. The value of our love, friendship, and peace is far more important than anything else — always remember that. Currently, we’re focusing on taking steps to get to know the 250+ ethnic and subethnic groups classified as ‘Dan Lain-Lain’. All those who participate with us will be playing a part to lend a hand to our unheard communities which we’ll be putting on our website

What also strengthens unity is connections. We need to forge new friendships and build each other up. We can’t tear people down or play with superiority. That’s why we’re always looking for people willing to grow and are teachable to building a community that follows our honouring principles.

Though awareness is always the first key, having the conviction and revelation of unity is so important. To have that, we must first understand the ‘why’ behind unity. The reality is, if we keep uniting around or focus too much on the past, we’re only creating nostalgia.

It’s not a bad thing, but when we unite to prepare a greater future for all of us, we’re creating momentum.

We believe while we can still appreciate the ‘good old days’, we need to be courageous to take steps forward to be more focused on our destiny together which starts by getting to know each other better.

Unity Amongst Malaysians

Q: How do the rest of us contribute to the concept of total unity?

A: It starts with us taking courage, taking that leap forward to lend a hand with our God-given skills or gifts, and participating in nation-building projects whether it’s with TRP or other programmes.

There are people who are angry with the country’s current situation but simply complaining about it helps no one. Instead, we need to act with love and honour each other.

Q: Can you share with me your experiences working to create awareness of minority cultures and races in Malaysia?

A: They’re just like you and me — we laugh, we eat, we sit together and have a conversation. They’re just like you and me and it starts with us taking a step forward to be kind and willing to get to know them. 

Not everyone has met every different ethnic group or sub-ethnic groups in Malaysia, but that’s the beauty of The Rojak Projek. We’re that midpoint and the bridge for that to happen. It’s a huge blessing because they understand the intention as to why we’re doing this. And if I’m being honest, this should’ve been done long ago. 

Nevertheless, I’m proud of the steps taken to move forward and choosing to work on it. We hope to see more participation among the nation under our programmes.

Q: Since the pandemic began, our ‘normal’ way of life has changed in many ways. We've seen groups of people come together, stand up for various causes, and support one another. What can we continue doing to help others and promote unity amongst us?

A: As a rakyat, I believe we’ve always had a ‘kita jaga kita’ mindset and I thank God for that. We’ve to definitely help one another during these times. 

Recently an F&B owner took her own initiative to help those who need food. She met a young girl, currently in her Form 5, who needed food for her and her other 4 siblings because both her parents passed away from COVID-19 recently.

I also made a quick reach to another group and they’re doing their best to steward and help regardless of our backgrounds. We’ve to help.

Unity Amongst Malaysians

I learn to steward with whatever I can — be it connections or organising things online. I make do with what I can to help others even if it’s just lending a listening ear to someone who’s having a breakdown. We’re essential to each other and we’ve to rise above it as we journey together. So, if you know someone who’s struggling, not just the poor and needy, let us steward our time, resources, prayers, anything that we can do.

Q: For those who would like to join The Rojak Projek family, how can they get involved?

A: For Taylorians, they’d have to log onto the SHINE portal and keep an eye out for any experiential activities offered by TRP. Additionally, they can also reach out through email or our webpage to participate and test things out with us. 

The way to move forward is truly in the youths and I encourage you to participate and be more active. As Tunku Abdul Rahman once said, “... as we face the problem of development and progress in all spheres of life in Malaysia, we must constantly bear in mind that both our present and our future depends, in very large measure, on the youth of our young nation.”

Giving back to the community gives you the chance to become a future-ready graduate. Find out how you can get started with Taylor’s SHINE Award Programme.

Q: Malaysians embrace their culture in so many ways such as through their clothings, language, and of course through FOOD! Are there any projects TRP is undergoing regarding these? 

A: I agree with you! It’s just so wonderful and I’m just so blessed to be a Malaysian. If you really want to know how it feels, and without risking any spoilers, we’ve captured it in a form of documentary that you must see for yourself. In time, we’ll also be showing these snippets on our Instagram page. So, do follow us and be educationally entertained about the Malaysia we all know, love, and should get to know more of there!

Q: If there’s one thing you’d want to share with all our readers, what would you like to say to them?

A: Hey fam, we can’t imagine what it’s been like for you navigating through this ridiculous pandemic. But you don’t have to journey alone. If you feel the need to do something together and would like to grow, just reach out and sign up with us.

For everyone reading this that knows Faye personally, you’ll know how passionate she is in promoting unity amongst Malaysians and creating awareness for the cultures and ethnicities that aren’t as well-known even amongst Malaysians — often known as ’lain-lain’ or ‘others’. 

The efforts that she and the rest of the TRP team have taken are truly outstanding and have  given me an in-depth view of what Malaysian culture truly is.

To me, unity amongst people in the country as a whole, especially when including small communities, is a feeling that comforts me regardless of where I am in the world and has been the reason I've grown to love Malaysia this much. To you, my Malaysian family, I leave with this quote as a message I’d like to embrace with you:

“We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.”  ~ Woodrow T. Wilson

Ali Moossajee is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Quantity Surveying (Hons) at Taylor's University. He is the President of the Taylor’s SHINE Ambassadors, President of the Taylor’s Wine & Dine Club, a senior Taylor’s Global Ambassador, as well as a Unibuddy Ambassador.