In solidarity with Preeti & Subhas Nair. Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide Inquiry Demanded
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This petition is being written to:
i. Demand that Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide issue an unequivocal and unconditional apology to the public, published in all major newspapers and online news websites in Singapore, for producing and releasing to the public an advertisement featuring a person of Chinese ethnic origin with his face painted brown to appear as a person of Indian ethnic origin. This advertisement has drawn retaliatory responses from Singaporeans belonging to the minority and majority racial groups and has sparked a nationwide online outcry in Singapore. Hence, the apology must include statements from Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide demonstrating the following:
• Why it is wrong to publish advertisements featuring people with their faces painted brown to make them appear Indian
• Acknowledgement that this advertisement has hurt the sentiments of the minority races of Singapore and is thus an impediment to racial harmony in Singapore
• Genuine remorse and admission of guilt. It is noted that an apology was previously issued by Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide. However, this was a ‘non-apology’ cloaked in statements ostensibly intended to explain the objective of the ad, the benefits of e-payment and the reasoning behind the selection of Dennis Chew as the model appearing in the ad. These statements appear to be mitigating factors and are irrelevant to the root cause of the controversy; the decision to paint a person’s face to appear Indian instead of using an actual person of Indian ethnic origin. The statements from Mediacorp’s and Havas Worldwide's previous ‘non-apology’ are given below for reference. (For the original news article, please see https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/mediacorp-apologises-after-ad-stirs-debate-about-depictions-of-race & https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/havas-apology-brownface-ad-nets-dennis-chew-preetipls-11773008)
a. We're sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused. Behind the ad is an initiative to provide greater convenience to consumers, merchants and small food businesses.
b. The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone.
c. For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign. He appears as characters from different walks of life in Singapore, bringing home the point that everyone can e-pay.
ii. Demand that Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide conduct a thorough internal inquiry and publish the findings for public review in all major newspapers and online news websites in Singapore no later than 2 weeks from the date of this petition i.e. 15 August 2019. The findings published must include the following:
• The current processes and protocols within Mediacorp & Havas Worldwide for advertisements to be vetted and approved prior to being released to the public
• For the case of the advertisement in question, where in the process the failure occurred. Which individual at the highest hierarchical corporate level cleared this advertisement. Why the advertisement, from the design and conceptualization stage to the final release, did not raise any red flags in the company.
• A detailed fact-finding report comprising all root-causes
• A full explanation highlighting the lessons learned and process changes made from the 2017 fine incurred by Mediacorp, meted out by the IMDA, for a Chinese actor sporting black face paint (see link: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/mediacorp-fined-5500-for-racially-insensitive-content and a full report explaining why these lessons learned and process changes did not prevent the recent controversial advertisement from being published)
• Action, in the form of suspension or termination of employment, taken on the individuals involved given the grave national impact that this advertisement has had on racial harmony in Singapore
iii. Express solidarity and support for Preeti Nair and Subhas Nair.
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