6:59pm 20/06/2021
​Fluent in four languages, Malaysian girl Nadia’s ethnicity remains a mystery

You may come across a Malaysian girl who is fluent in Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English on TikTok and wonder about her ethnicity.

"Many people ask about my identity and I tell them I am a Malaysian," said Nadia Pang, 22.

Since the launch of Movement Control Order, Nadia started to upload videos on TikTok. Those videos of her have since gone viral and she shot to fame sharing her life stories in different languages.

Her series of video have accumulated more than 150,000 views and she has 18,000 followers.

But her identity remains a mystery.

Some say she is a Malay due to her skin tone. But when she speaks fluent Tamil and dress in saree, then those who think she is a Malay start to doubt.

Nadia grows up in a diverse community where she learns Malay in kindergarten.

She attended a Chinese primary school and went to Tamil tuition class in year two and year three. She picked up three languages since young.

"Many find Tamil hard to learn, but I find it fun. I took half a year to master the new language," she said.

Nadia is not the only person fluent in four languages in her family. Her siblings are also fluent in Chinese dialects such as Hakka and Cantonese.

Nadia is keen to learn Hakka and Korean now as she watches many Korean series recently.

Nadia's family has good relationship with neighbors made up of Chinese, Malays and Indians as the family speaks several languages.

She grew up with friends from different ethnic backgrounds and celebrates various festive seasons with friends.

When she shopped for saree with her sisters, an Indian shopper spoke in Tamil: "We celebrate new year they also want to buy our clothes."

Nadia replied her in Tamil: "It's OK. We are all Malaysians."

The Indian woman was stunned!

"When I celebrate Hari Raya with my friends, many are curious why I do not wear tudung," said Nadia, as they regard her a Muslim.

Many tend to look at her differently when she is out in her T-shirt and short pants.

"Some keep on looking at me from head to toe (thinking she is a Muslim).

"I would have explained if they ask me," she said.

Nadia once ordered non-halal food during fasting month.

When the Malay man delivered the food to her, he kept on repeating her name to verify as he was puzzled why a Malay girl ordered non-halal food during the fasting month.

Nadia is used to such encounters.

"They do not disturb me but I film them into videos to share with my fans in TikTok.

"I deliver social and racial issues through the videos uploaded in TikTok, mainly advocating unity. I share many of my encounters," she said.

After being interviewed by the media, some readers still regarded her as a Muslim and commented that Nadia should not be having the bindi (colored dot on her forehead) as a Muslim.

She insisted not revealing her ethnic background as she did not want a repeat of her unpleasant encounter of racial discrimination when she was younger.

"Regardless where we are, what we do, we are the same and all of us live in Malaysia," she said.

Nadia said she used to hear people describe Indians as being addicted to drinking, Chinese loving to gamble and Malays being lazy.

"A person's behavior does not represent the entire ethnic group nor the religion. No religion in the world teaches one to take drugs or become a criminal," she said.

These are labels shaped by many ignorant people who do not actually know the different ethnic groups well enough, she said.

Nadia stressed that she does not agree with stereotyping an ethnic group. Instead, all Malaysians are responsible in creating a better society. 

Occasionally, she also speaks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group in TikTok, hoping that the society would have more tolerance and love, less bias and fear towards the group.

"Compared to the incidents I have encountered when I was younger, I think the society is improving. I see many young people who are open-minded and are not so racist. I hope the world can be a better place in future," she said. 

A true Malaysia will exist when all Malaysians accept and understand one another by embracing our diversity.




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