This illustration was drawn in the year of 2014 and it was the most challenging part in my career. I was 26 years old and had been an illustrator for 5-6 years. Back then, I received an email from a senior I’ve met in my art academy college. He was the art director in one of the biggest multinational advertising agencies. As he was coordinating a national day PSA for his client, the national petroleum company, the print advertisement needed to be presented via an illustration, hence the origin of this illustration.
The illustration shows the different eras of Malaysia, from the 60-70’s to the modern days just like the pre-independence day to the present urbanized day. I wanted to convey the stories from a different era through my art. However, I often hear people saying that these scene have vanished unto memory lane, what we see now is just foreign workers walking our streets. My parents and I noticed that the majority of the city centre of Kuala Lumpur has been filled with foreign workers and people often label them as criminals just because they don’t feel safe around foreign workers. Over the years, we have read much news about illegal stay, pickpocketing and other negative news of foreign workers, hence we shade them in a different light. In fact, we barely have the chance to meet them and all we ever did is just stereotyping and discriminating the non-locals.
These 2 years, I’ve opened another shop in Central Market and it allowed me to mingle around with the locals as well as the foreign workers there. I realized, most of them are not what we think they are, some of them have professional skills in their home country yet they have to seek a job opportunity in other countries due to different constraints. After all, they are nothing different than us, they have kind souls, they are friendly and well-spoken, some even have a better attitude than our locals.
We often emphasize about equality, to abandon classism, to eliminate discrimination, but we also unconsciously put a label on certain groups of people and this thought will be passed on to our next generation. If we continue to judge people with general stereotyping and without getting to know them, it will be a huge obstacle to make our community better. Let’s forget about the stereotypes and reconnect people with our true hearts.