KUALA LUMPUR: In 2009, when actress Lisa Surihani posted Yuletide greetings on social media, she was shocked to find her sincere gesture to Christians drawing backlash from some netizens.
“I received paragraph after paragraph of lectures for not being a good Muslim. I had no idea what I had done wrong.
“I may not be well learned in my religion but I knew I did not disrespect my faith.
“I come from a diverse background and have family and friends who celebrate Christmas.
“I knew I had to be careful about what I post in the future, but I was determined that it should not stop me from being the person I truly am,” she recalled.
Lisa continued to post greetings on social media for all the major festivals in Malaysia, including Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Thaipusam, but with a disclaimer that she was doing so out of respect.
“However, I still received some backlash,” said the popular star and law graduate of Wales’ Aberystwyth University.
The 30-year-old believes what lies at the root of the problem is racially segregated schools.
“I went to an international school that taught civic studies. We learnt about the government, constitution and people from young and it was ingrained in us to respect each other’s beliefs.
“Children should be allowed to mix freely from young. How are they to do that in racially segregated schools? Knowingly or unknowingly, we have allowed such schools to be established and when the children are all grown up, we complain about their intolerance for other races.
“Nothing much can be done for my generation but to increase awareness. But there is still time to make a change in the school system for our children,” said the actress, who has an 11-month-old daughter with her husband, singer-actor-director Yusry Abdul Halim.
Lisa will be taking part in the #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk 2016.
“Star Media Group’s effort is a good way to remind the people about our roots and who we truly are. I hope everyone realises this and instils hope for a more harmonious society, especially among the younger generation,” she added.
The #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk 2016, to be held ahead of the National Day celebrations, will kick off at the Bukit Bintang City Centre this Sunday.
The 3.4km walk, starting from the junction of Jalan Imbi and Jalan Pudu at the site of the former Pudu Jail, will be flagged off by Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz.
The #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk 2016 is organised by Star Media Group in collaboration with Ecoworld. Other sponsors for the event include Car Sponsor: Proton, Gold Sponsor: Panasonic and Silver Sponsors: Tenaga Nasional and YES.
For more information, call 03-7967 1388, ext 1432/1529/1243