It seems so. TV3, one of the local television stations has canned a Hari Raya advertisement that is deemed to have offended Muslim feelings.
Based on what I gathered from Malaysiakini and Malaysia Insider reports, the minute long commercial depicts an elderly Pak Haji inviting several children to take a magical trip through the skies on a flying trishaw. The clip also includes the unfolding of a lotus flower, which is usually linked to Buddhism.
However, the advert brought heavy criticism from both viewers and on online forums after it was first aired on September 3rd. Following the outcry, the station apologised and yanked it off the air.
Meanwhile, PAS Youth added a twist by accusing the station, which comes under the Media Prima Group that is affiliated to UMNO, of being too preoccupied with non-Barisan Nasional media that it had neglected to monitor its own.
I simply think it was an attempt to portray the much hyped about 1Malaysia spirit, with different cultural elements in a “dream setting” within the context of Hari Raya. Maybe that’s where the Santa Claus, and lotus comes in. Inaccurate – yes; Harmful – no.
Because, if that’s true, then I would think that 90% of the commercials we watch on TV would have to bite the dust too. And speaking of our kids being manipulated, just watch our local politicians and assorted civil servants doing their “daily advertising” by spewing contempt for fellow Malaysians and their beliefs, cultures and ethnicity. Now, if that isn’t downright harmful, I wonder what is? And worse, most of these chaps get away scott free, except for a slap on the wrist.
Most TV ads, including those that we get to see during festive seasons, are content to remain just that – gimmicks, with the exception of a few. For something deeper, I think Yasmin Ahmad’s Petronas’ series stand out any time.
What do you think?
The canceled ad can be viewed here
Petronas 2010 advert can be viewed here