'Racist' maid advert draws anger in Hong Kong

2014-06-18 13:48
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Hong Kong - A "racist" insurance commercial depicting a male Chinese actor as a Filipina maid has drawn outrage on social media in Hong Kong, with groups representing the city's legions of domestic helpers calling for an apology.

Aimed at the employers of Hong Kong's 300 000 maids, who mainly hail from the Philippines and Indonesia, the domestic helper insurance advert for Malaysia's Hong Leong Bank shows the Chinese actor wearing dark orange make-up and a curly wig as he plays clumsy maid "Maria".

Hong Leong did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the bank appeared to have removed the link to the advertisement from its website on Wednesday.

"I think they should make a public apology," Eni Lestari, spokesperson for the Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body, told AFP, describing the ad as "very racist".

"You are making comedy out of someone, out of a community," she said. "For (Hong Kong residents) it's funny, but what they don't realise is what's funny is actually racist."

She questioned why the bank did not hire someone from Indonesia or the Philippines to play the maid.

'Inexcusable action'

Others took to Twitter and Facebook to blast the advert.

"You guys should really take down that ad and apologise for it... It's really not appropriate for a professional representation of your financial services," Kahlil Stultz wrote on the bank's Facebook page.

"Why do you have to solidify the omnipresent racial and cultural stereotypes that are hurting so many people?" added Marcin Rutecki.

The row comes weeks after separate controversy over a Hong Kong school textbook, which critics said encouraged children to racially stereotype their neighbours.

The book asked children to match nationalities to the "appropriate" job description - such as Indonesian for domestic helpers, or Japanese for sushi restaurant owners.

The case of Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who allegedly endured a months-long torture campaign by her Hong Kong boss, has put a spotlight on the working conditions faced by the financial hub's domestic workers.

Her employer, a 44-year-old mother-of-two, is on trial and last week denied all the charges against her.

Amnesty International last year condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by some of the city's domestic helpers and accused authorities of "inexcusable" inaction.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    indonesia  |  philippines  |  hong kong

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Wallabies achilles heel now a strength
LIVE: Ireland 3-3 Italy
Argentina overpower spirited Tonga
As it happened: Tonga 16-45 Argentina
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.