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MCI removes Hari Raya video to ‘avoid controversy and argument’ after online backlash on racial stereotyping

MCI removes Hari Raya video to ‘avoid controversy and argument’ after online backlash on racial stereotyping

Screengrab of the video titled Messages for Syawal.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that it has taken down a Hari Raya video to “avoid controversy and argument” during the festive period following online backlash that the video stereotypes the Malay community.

Responding to queries from CNA on Sunday (May 1), a spokesperson said that the ministry noted the public feedback regarding the video titled Messages for Syawal. 

They added that the video was about “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 heartwarming; some expressed reservations.” 

The ministry spokesperson also said that the festive period should 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,” the spokesperson added although they did not mention when the video was taken down.

MESSAGES FOR SYAWAL VIDEO

The video, which appeared on Gov.sg YouTube page, was intended for Hari Raya Puasa, which falls on Tuesday.

It showed a family of three living in a rental flat, where the father works as a mover while the mother is a housewife.

The son, Syawal, is seen skipping school to earn extra income for his family.

Later in the video, which features Malay proverbs, the mother decides to return to work while the father finds a new job. Syawal goes back to school again and the family plans towards moving into their own home.

Towards the end of the video, the family moves out of their rental flat into a new home where they celebrate Hari Raya.

The video has since been removed from Gov.sg YouTube channel.

ONLINE BACKLASH

The video sparked online backlash as some viewers said that it included racial stereotypes about the Malay community.

Some netizens said that the video suggested Malay families can only celebrate Hari Raya when they have achieved socio-economic stability by attaining home ownership or when both parents are working.

However others, including those who identify themselves as part of the Malay community, said that they did not find the video offensive. Several online commentators said that there was nothing shameful about the story presented in the video.

Source: CNA/ng(ta)
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