Why Did Hishammuddin’s ‘China/Big Brother’ Comment Cause So Much Controversy?

“Every gesture matters in diplomacy. When he stood on stage he was representing Malaysia, not himself.” – Ivy Kwek

In this recent podcast with BFM-The Daily Digest, our Research Director, Ivy Kwek explains the relationship between Malaysia and China, emphasising the importance of appropriate gestures in diplomacy, how to deal with big powers, and why foreign policy matters to all of us.


Last Thursday, one comment made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hishammuddin Hussein, at a bilateral meeting in China, sent Twitterjaya into a frenzy. During his speech, Hishammuddin said, “you will always be my big brother (specifically ‘da ge’ in Mandarin).” That quote received widespread criticisms from academics, politicians and the rakyat. But why was that statement so controversial? We discuss.


Produced by: Dashran Yohan

Presented by: Tee Shiao Eek, Lim Sue Ann