Local influencer Ryzal Ibrahim has landed in hot water after making fun of traditional Iban clothing in his Instagram Stories earlier this week
Ryzal, along with his Korean wife, Maryam You Na-rae, are known for producing online content under the name Duriankimchi with over 505,000 followers on Instagram.
He was slammed for posting a video of himself cracking jokes in a dressing room with Maryam while she wore the ethnic costume for Iban women, Ngepan Indu.
In the viral clip, Ryzal compared the beaded collar, known as marik empang, to a tablecloth and TV mat from the 1970s.
He also said that the kain kebat, or ceremonial skirt, looked like unwashed rags.
While Maryam was getting her hair and makeup done, Ryzal pointed at the metal belt she was wearing and said, "People usually keep spare coins in their pocket but they put it here."
Maryam, on the other hand, can be seen jokingly slapping her husband's hand away as he tried to touch the belt, saying, "My money, my money."
While he made fun of the beaded collar, Maryam replied, "It's handmade."
After he started to receive backlash, Ryzal deleted the video from his Instagram Stories.
Ryzal's remarks have been called out not only by netizens, but also several prominent figures including celebrities and the Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister
In a tweet, Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri wrote, "My maternal grandmother is an Iban from Kapit. I remember seeing her in her Ngepan Iban for the first time and I was really amazed by how she carried herself with grace. Malaysia is blessed with its beautiful cultures from multiple [ethnicities]. This behaviour must not be normalised."
Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Zee Avi wrote, "Watching Ryzal's video triggered a part of my childhood of being called, 'cawat, sumpit, orang hutan' (loincloth, blowpipe, jungle person) and be told to 'balik ah wei! Dudok atas pokok! Blah ah!' (Go home! You live on a tree! Shoo!) I'd just moved from Miri to a private school, mind you, in KL. I was 13 years old."
"The name-calling and taunting went on for years in school, though looking back, kids were just kids who were basing it off what they see from our history books and perhaps a lesser informed upbringing. But what's this guy's excuse?"
Singer and former beauty queen Dewi Liana Seriestha took to Instagram and said, "Use your phone! That's what phones are for! Do some research, Google, read more. Learning and finding out about things outside of our knowledge is fun, did you know that?"
"Respect is vital. Treat people the way you want to be treated."
The discussion around Ryzal's video also sparked a new trend on Twitter where folks show off photos of themselves dressed in traditional costumes of different ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak
Miss World Malaysia 2018 Larissa Ping, who is of Kenyah descent, uploaded a photo of herself and wrote, "Yes! Solidarity among Orang Asal."
Twitter user @BeeBalan also wrote, "That’s right! Solidarity among Orang Asal."
Another netizen, @ikn1dc, uploaded a photo of herself and said, "Anyway, this is me wearing Ngepan Iban because I am actually Iban and I'm not letting anyone talk s--t about my culture like that."
The online personality has since issued a public apology
Ryzal uploaded multiple postings on Instagram, addressing the issue.
Under one video, he wrote, "I made a mistake, I am responsible. To Iban people, I apologise."
"I understand, everyone is upset and disappointed with my sensitive jokes between me and Maryam that offended Malaysians, namely Iban folks from Sarawak. I admit I did not take into account the sensitivities of the different ethnicities in Malaysia, so I am responsible for my words in my jokes."
"I had no intention to insult, what more to spark an argument. I was really just joking with my wife but this time I went over the boundaries. To friends who know me, I apologise once again if the joke is truly disappointing."