Ramadan Ad on Malaysian TV not a very good public service announcement

Posted on August 3, 2011


I missed it!

It was a public service announcement (PSA) produced and aired by Media Prima’s station 8TV that has made our people, especially our Malaysian Chinese brothers and sisters, hopping mad!

And I missed it on TV because the anger and backlash was enough to force the station to pull it off the air.

Fortunately, the wonderful invention known as YouTube and the determination of several very angry people made sure that I could still catch the three PSAs that were compiled into a video just one and a half minutes long.

Barely though, because most of the videos of the PSAs posted had been taken off YouTube and Vimeo by lunchtime today.

So, what’s all the hoo-haa about, you may ask?

Well, it’s definitely not the messages, which asks people, for this holy month of Ramadan only I presume, to “NOT BE RUDE OR OBNOXIOUS” and instead be “POLITE AND DISCREET.”

That was the message in one of the 30 second PSAs.

In that PSA, the protagonist, a young Chinese girl was seen at a typical Ramadan Bazaar being excited about the variety of food on offer and then telling the stall operator “I love you Makcik, mmmmmm” as she proceeded to rub the Malay lady’s arms in glee.

Old lady has shocked look on her face.

Then the Amoi goes to another stall operator, where she leans her hands on the Malay man’s shoulder and asks whether she could get a discount on the watermelons he’s selling.

Old man also has shocked look on his face.

That’s when the words “DO NOT BE RUDE OR OBNOXIOUS” covers the screen.

Then immediately in the next scene, I believe the Amoi has now been drugged and seems more sedate as she buys food from the same Malay lady earlier, but this time, without much fuss and food and money change hands and thank-yous said, very calmly.

That’s when the words “DO BE POLITE AND DISCREET” covers the screen.

Next scene, three more characters come up – two men wearing Baju Melayu and a woman wearing kebaya and batik sarung – and the Ramadan Bazaar is in the background.

First man says “Please don’t get carried away…”; then second man says “…let’s respect and understand the significance of Ramadan”; and then the eye-candy says “Selamat Berpuasa…from 8TV”.

The second PSA, I liked best. This one shows the same Amoi from the first PSA. This time instead of being rude or obnoxious, she’s now greedy and likes to eat in public during Ramadan.

It says so on the screen, “DO NOT BE GREEDY AND EAT IN PUBLIC” as the Amoi gobbles the food that she bought at the same Ramadan Bazaar and then offers some of the food to the other customers (who we should assume are fasting).

This one actually made me laugh alone in the office just now because I’ve been guilty of this many Ramadans ago.

It also happened at a Ramadan Bazaar and just like the Amoi in the PSA, I too ate the food as soon as I paid for it.

But realised in five seconds that I was the only one eating in the whole place and that people were actually still in puasa mode and that’s when I quickly put food back in plastic bag and also made a quick exit.

Anyway, once again, in the following scene the Amoi was visibly given some sort of mood-enhancer and appeared more docile in buying food this time as the words “DO BE CONSIDERATE TO OTHERS” flashes across the screen.

This PSA also ended in a similar way as the first, with two men in Baju Melayu and a different woman now, who’s wearing a baju kurung, uttering the same script as before.

The third and last PSA in this series shows the same Amoi now wearing a tank top and short skirt. Her character’s supposed to be flirtier in this PSA.

Once again, she’s walking around the Ramadan Bazaar and people stare at her as she’s walking, and that’s when she says “Wow! I feel like I’m the centre of attention. I love it!” as she grabs a banana at a fruit stall.

Somehow they “pixelated” her underarms for some reason and people at the bazaar conspicuously look away when she raises her arms. I wonder what’s up with that? Unsightly armpit hair, perhaps?

Well, this time the words “DO NOT WEAR TIGHT AND REVEALING CLOTHES” is the message for us all.

“DO WEAR APPROPRIATE ATTIRE” is the next message flashed across the screen in the next scene. Of course, this is the scene where the Amoi is once again semi-sedated and now wearing what’s called a ‘Baju Kedah’ I believe (sort of like a baju  kurung ensemble).

This PSA also ends with the same two gentlemen and the earlier lady wearing the kebaya ensemble (and  by the way, her eye-catching red kebaya seems to be pretty tight and sexy so she better go get a shapeless sack to wear or else she too will be drugged!).

So what’s the verdict for the PSAs from 8TV for this holy month of Ramadan?

Not very clever and not very funny.

Perhaps some people might get upset because a PSA during the month of Ramadan is aimed squarely at them (who obviously won’t be fasting, by the way).

It also shows that we, as Malaysians, are definitely not yet ready to laugh at ourselves.

This time, it was a Chinese girl who played a stereotypical view of what I assume non-Chinese Malaysian people think about the Malaysian Chinese people (well, at least the producers thought that, isn’t it?).

If you remember last time, on another PSA, when the Malay boy didn’t give his seat to a pregnant woman or old woman or pregnant old woman on a bus or LRT (blur on the details, sorry), again we couldn’t laugh at ourselves and cried RACISM!

I’m sure there’s been a PSA, which has pissed off a few Sarawakians in the past but I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason PSAs exist. To piss Malaysians off.

So my take on this is, whoever does another public service announcement, better make sure you know the sensitivities of all Malaysians, because when it comes to race or religion, our skin has never been and probably never will be thick enough for trying-to-be-to-clever PSAs.


Posted in: Malaysian media