Cultural diversity is one common factor between Malaysia and Canada that I love. This week I thought I’d share several ads that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Malaysia. These ads were made by Yasmin Ahmad, a brilliant writer and film director, from Malaysia. Her ads mostly focused on the cultural and racial diversity in Malaysia, but weaved through them powerful messages of a shared heritage among the races. Through clever storytelling, her ads carried subtle calls for unity in the country. She tended to tug at heartstrings, inviting viewers back to simpler times, encouraging us to remember our days as kids when race or colour never mattered in our lives. She reminded us to remember who we were, and where we came from regardless of where we went in life. She blended in humour, most of which are very recognizable to her target audience or to those who may have visited, travelled, or stayed in Malaysia for a while.
The three I showcase here are among my favourite Yasmin Ahmad ads.
This ad was for Petronas (Malaysia’s national oil company), celebrating Deepavali (the Hindu Festival of Light).
This ad, celebrating independence day in Malaysia, shows a Chinese boys expressing his love of a Malay girl. Children, the ad closes, don’t know the distinction between races. Should we not keep it that way, it asks.
In this ad, two boys of different races try to describe the meaning of race.
Race-based politics (and conversations) often rears its ugly head in the lives of Malaysians. While inter-racial marriages are not uncommon, religion often dominates the conversations when two people of different races or religions form a union. Often, these conversations are not pretty, and they add a load of unnecessary stress on couples and families. So reminders like these from Yasmin are often very good for Malaysia as a nation. (Yasmin passed away in 2009).
Share your thoughts, or your favourite Yasmin Ahmad ad.