NOW this is what many Malaysians want to see – teachers being positive role models and living up to the expectations of promoting messages of cultural understanding.
Instead of donning mock Jihadists gear and brandishing toy rifles, two educators have taken it upon themselves to spread a message brimming with positivity.
Mohd Khairul Azman Ismail and his spouse, Razisatul Asyifah Ismail have added a third book in their Bahasa Malaysia “Owly Celebrations” series – Deepavali Valthukkal, Owly! This follows Selamat Hari Raya, Owly! and Gong Xi, Gong Xi, Owly!
Illustrator Mohd Khairul and writer Asyifah, both 48, were inspired to create the books thanks to the fond memories they have of their childhoods when they had many friends of various ethnicities.
The book aimed at younger readers details how the main character, Owly, learns about various customs whilst visiting a family during Deepavali celebrations.
“Back then, we had sincere friendships regardless of race, skin colour or religion. It’s a joy to see children befriend each other through mutual understanding and respect for each other’s culture and religious teachings – that is the Malaysia we should all aspire to,” Mohd Khairul told The Star.
The pair are both Shah Alam-based primary school teachers specialising in Islamic Studies and Visual Art.
Isn’t this just inspiring? Instead of creating schisms among people of different races which some of their peers seem to be doing, the self-published pair prefer to celebrate the country’s ethnic diversity.
“We share this country together, so we must respect each other’s cultures and beliefs,” proclaimed Mohd Khairul who is also working on a series on East Malaysian celebrations.
This wonderful message should receive the backing of the Education Ministry by including these Malay-language books as part of the primary school syllabus. Surely, this will be a positive and welcome move that will underline the unity government’s sincere effort in promoting racial harmony.
Syabas to them both and let’s back their efforts up by buying their books.
Deepavali Valthukkal, Owly! and other books published by OwlyBooks can be purchased by contacting Asyifah at 011-1185 2926 or at local booksellers such as the Museum of Picture Book Art @ GMBB. – Nov 12, 2023
P/S: FocusM wishes all Hindu readers a very Happy Deepavali.
Main pic credit: TheStar