Local artist points out racism still alive in Malaysian property renting practices

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian artist Hong Yi posted a photo on Facebook yesterday showing an apartment with a banner outside saying, “DO NOT RENT TO AFRICAN/NEGRO”, highlighting that racism and stereotyping is alive and well in Malaysia.

Hong Yi said she has been posting artworks about ‘anti-Asian racism’ related to Covid-19, but is also aware that racism exists everywhere. “I am appalled. Even if the virus started with a handful of Chinese people, even if 9-11 was caused by a handful of religious extremists, and even if the landlords of this apartment had problems with their African tenants - it does not justify taking it out on the rest of the people who are just trying to live their lives,” she said.

Racial discrimination in renting practices has been a rampant issue in Malaysia, with TheStar reporting last year that 21% of Malaysians have been a victim of racial discrimination when looking for a place to rent.

One would only need to look at the comments in Hong Yi’s post to see the support for racially discriminatory rental practices. One netizen actually said, “Well, if you stay next to them and they are drug dealing and drunk all the time. You may think otherwise.”

Another commenter also pointed out the ease of pointing racism in western communities, but the difficulties of addressing it in an Asian context. “... these comments confirm what I’ve always known but didn’t openly say. It’s easy to point out racism in white people, but Asians are so tricky with it,” one netizen said.