A Chinese Malaysian streamer, who went viral after effortlessly switching between Mandarin, Malay and English in her livestreams, shared some of her experiences growing up in a mixed-race family in Malaysia during a Bigo Live interview.
Her childhood: Speaking to Bigo Live Malaysia in November, Zhu Juna, 24, shared that she was born to a Chinese father and a Malay mother, whom some people have mistook for her maid when they were going out.
- “When I went out with my mother, people will ask me if she is taking care of her boss’ kid,” she recalled. “So they were wondering if I don’t have a mother and I am taken care by a maid. I had gotten tired of explaining to them that she is my mother.”
- Juna said people still think of her mother as her maid even though she calls her “umi” and “ibu.” She noted that people reach this conclusion, because “my mother is dark skinned and I am light skinned.”
- She also shared that growing up as biracial in Malaysia, she had trouble finding a close circle of friends. “I was not sure if I should fit into the Chinese or Malay circle,” she said, adding that her upbringing with two different cultures left her confused about how to treat her Malay friends and Chinese friends.
- Juna recalled a debate in high school wherein her male Chinese peers said she should follow her father’s customs while her female Malay peers argued that she should follow her mother’s customs and Malay heritage.
- “I felt very lonely when I was young, but as I grew up, I realized that I have friends who could guide me,” she said.
Viral streamer: Juna managed to turn her experiences into something positive. She said that she can adapt easily to any situation because of her two cultures, and that proved to be pivotal in her Bigo Live career. She started livestreaming in February 2021.
- Netizens have named her “a true Malaysian daughter” since she can easily switch between Mandarin, Malay and English depending on who her viewers are.
- “It’s not the skin color or the language that represent who you are, but it’s your action and your mindset that represent your own identity,” she said.
Chinese education in Malaysia: There has been an increase in the number of Malay students enrolling in Chinese schools in the Southeast Asian country, and it is no longer rare to find Malays who are fluent in Mandarin.
- Around 15.33% of Malay students had reportedly enrolled in Chinese schools last year, an increase from 9.5% in 2010, Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said in November 2020, The Star reported.