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#NSTviral: Russian influencer sparks controversy over views on Malaysian friendliness

KUALA LUMPUR: An influencer from Russia sparked a heated debate by expressing his personal views on the friendliness of Malaysians on social media.

Through a video on TikTok, Max Petrovskii, also known as @Marilyn_ruv, has garnered widespread attention after mentioning feeling uncomfortable and noting a lack of smiles among the people he encountered in Malaysia.

Max perceives Malaysians as nervous and less friendly compared to people in Thailand.

"Walking here in Malaysia, I just really got one thing, people here are not... I don't think it's that about friendly, but they don't smile to each other a lot.

"I've lived in Thailand and I'm used to a lot of attention and people smiling at each other," he said.

The video quickly enraged Malaysian internet users as comments flooded in, accusing Max of disrespecting their ountry.

While some acknowledged the country's strict laws and cultural differences, they emphasised that Max's portrayal was neither accurate nor fair.

Social media user @Rezentrcupcakke said the sentiment that Max critiqued was unwarranted and potentially attention-seeking.

"Get attention from your parents, not us, we have a lot of work to do anyway," he said.

Many questioned the TikToker's credentials to pass judgment on Malaysian hospitality, while others expressed annoyance and frustration with his comments.

Meanwhile, another user @NikTravel countered Max's claims and highlighted the cultural nuances regarding the initiation of friendly interactions.

"No, I won't smile randomly all the time unless you smile at me first so I have to reply back as a gesture. Not smiling doesn't mean we are not friendly," she said.

Adding to the discussion, user @Ezlanjbkt explained that environmental factors influence social behavior among people.

"Bro, it's so hot and sunny here in Malaysia, people won't smile under the scorching sunlight in the middle of the road, bro," he said.

While some defended his right to express his views, others called for greater respect and understanding when discussing foreign cultures.

Another user @Lindaburan offered a perspective on the significance of earning smiles and reflected the belief that genuine interactions and gestures are valued in Malaysian society.

"Smiles need to be earned. When you smile, surely someone will smile back at you."

The backlash against Max's video underscores the sensitivity of cultural perceptions and the power of social media to amplify controversy.

As the conversation surrounding Max's video continued, it became evident that perceptions of friendliness and cultural norms are multifaceted and deeply rooted in individual experiences and societal expectations.

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