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MCI removes Hari Raya ad after online backlash for stereotyping Malay community

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has withdrawn a Hari Raya advertisement, which was criticised in some quarters as stereotyping the Malay community, “to avoid controversy and argument” during the festive period.

MCI removes Hari Raya ad after online backlash for stereotyping Malay community

The ad, which depicts a Malay family living in a rental flat, has been taken down following criticism in some quarters.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has withdrawn a Hari Raya advertisement, which was criticised in some quarters as stereotyping the Malay community, “to avoid controversy and argument” during the festive period. 

In response to queries from TODAY, the ministry said on Saturday (April 30) that it had noted public feedback on its “Messages for Syawal” video.

The ministry said the video was meant to show "a family’s journey of resilience in facing challenging circumstances and how mutual support and encouragement could nurture the process”.

“We understand that the takeaways from any creative work is subjective. While most Malay/Muslim viewers, including the many who viewed it prior to release, perceived the story to be heart-warming, some expressed reservations. 

“The festive period should foremost be an occasion to celebrate what binds us together as communities. To avoid controversy and argument at such a time, we decided to withdraw the video,” said a spokesperson from MCI.

The two-and-a-half-minute video intended to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa, which falls on Tuesday, captures moments in the life of a family living in a rental flat. The father of the family works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

Their young son, Syawal, skips school to earn extra income for his family before a teacher flags his absence from school to his parents.

The mother in the video later decides to return to work to alleviate her family’s financial difficulties while the father gets a new job.

The video, which is peppered with Malay proverbs, shows the family moving out of their rental flat to a new home several years later where they celebrate Hari Raya. 

The video also referenced several government initiatives to help the underprivileged, such as schemes to help rental flat owners attain home ownership and the Uplift programme to support disadvantaged students.

The video had been uploaded on the Gov.sg YouTube page but appears to have been taken down several days ago. The ad was not available on the YouTube page when TODAY checked on Sunday.

TODAY has reached out to MCI to ask when the advertisement was uploaded, which platforms it was uploaded on and when it was removed.

The video sparked backlash online, with some viewers saying that it contained stereotypes about the Malay community.

The video suggested that families only deserve to celebrate Hari Raya after achieving socio-economic progress, said some netizens. 

Other viewers took issue with the fact that the advertisement was used to promote government schemes for the underprivileged, rather than to focus on the festivities.

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hari raya advertisement Malay stereotype MCI

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