‘Do not rent to African’ sign from Malaysia, not China

“As I stop supporting China Malls,” reads text on a screenshot of a Facebook post, reposted on 15 May 2020.

It shows a photo of a sign on a wall, in different languages. The English text reads: “DO NOT RENT TO AFRICAN/NEGRO” and “0% AFRICAN/NEGRO TENANT”. A red circle around the words “AFRICAN NEGRO” has a diagonal line through it in the common symbol for “not allowed”.

The sign also has Chinese characters, and a third language.

The screenshot was posted in South Africa with the comment: “Maybe it’s time we start a campaign to stop buying from Chinese and supporting their business.” It’s been viewed more than 260,000 times.

But the sign is not from China, or associated with Chinese people in South Africa.

Snapped in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Using a reverse image search we traced the photo to Malaysia, a country in Southeast Asia on the southern border of Thailand. Malaysia is about 3,500 kilometres from China, in East Asia.

The third language on the sign reads: “TUAN RUMAH DIMINTA. TIDAK MENYEWA RUMAH KEPADA AFRICAN/NEGRO.” Google Translate detects this as Malay. Malaysia’s two official languages are Malay and English. Chinese dialects such as Mandarin and Hokkien are also spoken there, as is Tamil, a language from India.

The photo of the sign was taken in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital, by a friend of Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi. She posted it on her Facebook page on 15 April.

“While I have been posting artwork about anti-Asian racism related to coronavirus, I want to make it clear that I recognise that racism exists everywhere, in every skin colour, every country, every culture,” she wrote.

“In Malaysia, a friend sent me the below attached photo that he took outside his apartment in KL today … I am appalled.”

The post was covered by Malaysian news outlets. In one report, the Sun Daily 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.” – Mary Alexander


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