SINGAPORE: The E-Pay advertisement featuring Dennis Chew did not breach the Internet Code of Practice, the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Wednesday (Aug 14), following an assessment.
It had, however, been "done in poor taste and had caused offence to minority communities", the IMDA spokesperson added.
"IMDA has thus issued a stern reminder to the parties involved in the Ad on the importance of paying attention to racial and religious sensitivities.
"IMDA expects all advertising companies and other content producers to be similarly mindful of these sensitivities. IMDA will not hesitate to take action against any content that is found to be in breach of our Codes of Practice and guidelines," said the spokesperson.
The ad, which saw Chew portraying people of different races, drew widespread flak online for its use of "brownface". Chew's skin had been made up to look darker to portray an Indian man. The ad also showed him cross-dressing as a Malay woman and a Chinese woman.
On Aug 1, NETS apologised for the controversial ad. "NETS would like to apologise for any hurt that its campaign has caused," said the financial services firm, adding that the intent of the campaign had been to "communicate that e-payment is for everyone".
Mediacorp's celebrity management arm The Celebrity Agency, as well as the creative agency engaged for the E-Pay campaign Havas Worldwide, apologised in a joint statement for "any hurt that was unintentionally caused".
Mediacorp also said it would put in place "more stringent safeguards ... to prevent a repeat of such a mistake", while a second apology by Havas said: "Our multicultural society defines us as a nation and we regret if anyone has been offended by the campaign."
"The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone. 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," the statement added.
On Aug 7, the Mediacorp actor and deejay also apologised for his part in the controversial ad, saying it had caused "much disappointment".
"I feel terrible about how things turned out," he said, adding that he would set "higher expectations" of himself.
Earlier on Wednesday, police said brother-and-sister entertainer duo Preeti and Subhas Nair have been given conditional warnings for a rap video they had produced in response to the ad.