IMDA: ‘Brownface’ E-Pay ad offended minorities but did not breach Internet Code of Practice

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On August 14, 2019 the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) completed its assessment of the E-Pay ad which featured actor Dennis Chew.

IMDA found that while the controversial “brownface” E-Pay ad did not breach the Internet Code of Practice, it was done in poor taste and caused offence to minorities.

Here is the ad:



As such, a “stern reminder” has since been issued to all parties involved in the ad on the importance of paying attention to racial and religious sensitivities, Today further reported.

Advertising companies expected to be mindful of guidelines


IMDA further added that all advertising companies and other content producers were expected to mindful of such guidelines.

The ministry further added that it would not hesitate to take action against any content found to be in breach of its Codes of Practice and guidelines, The Straits Times (ST) highlighted.

Echoes Singapore’s advertising authority’s assessment of ad


IMDA is not the first authority to have assessed the “brownface” ad as an act of poor taste that nevertheless, did not breach any guidelines however.

Previously, on August 1, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), an advisory council to the Consumers Association of Singapore, also gave the same assessment of the ad.

Professor Ang Peng Hwa, chairman of the ASAS, felt the advertisement was not done “with harm in mind or to deliberately put down any ethnic groups”.

ASAS stated that it had also examined the ad against the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP)’s general principle on social values.

The SCAP dictates that advertisements should be handled sensitively to minimise misinterpretation of intentions on ethnic issues.

It should also not jeopardise inter-ethnic understanding or discriminate against any ethnic group or religion, or downplay the importance of mutual dependence amongst all groups.

The council found that the SCAP was not breached.

No police action to be taken over ad


Meanwhile, the police have separately released a statement that no further action will be taken in relation to the ad.

The police added that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had advised that there was no criminal offence disclosed in respect of the ad.

As per the police:


“The Police also received reports on an E-Pay advertisement, which featured a portrayal of different races by an actor and which had been referenced in the rap video. The Attorney-General’s Chambers has advised that there is no criminal offence disclosed in respect of the advertisement. The Police will take no further action in relation to the advertisement.”
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Top image collage from IMDA Facebook and epaysg.com

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