Asia-Pacific

Malaysia's 8TV pulls 'racist' Ramadan adverts

An ethnic Chinese family prays in front of a giant paper-made statue of Chinese deity in Malaysia's Bukit Mertajam on August 25, 2010
Image caption About a quarter of Malaysia's population are ethnic Chinese

A Malaysian TV channel has withdrawn a series of public-service messages about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, after viewers complained they were racist.

One of the adverts showed an ethnic Chinese girl acting in a rude manner towards Muslims, followed by a message saying: "Do not be loud or obnoxious."

In another of the adverts the girl is wearing a vest-top and is told: "Do not wear tight and revealing clothes."

The station, 8TV, apologised for any "inconvenience or uneasiness" caused.

"It is with much regret that there were misinterpretations in the PSA [public service announcement] that were meant to serve only as a message of respect for the Ramadan month," the channel said in a message on its Facebook page.

"The message was not meant to offend anyone, race or creed in any way. This is an honest mistake involving a very small amount of humour that was misinterpreted which led to concerns."

The station, which aims largely at Malaysia's sizeable Chinese minority, pulled the messages from its schedules and also moved quickly to delete them from video-sharing websites.

Its Facebook page was inundated with critical messages.

One web user, Jules Yap, said the channel had shown "disgusting, arrogant behaviour".

"Can't believe how arrogant the higher-ups in 8TV are, coming out with a defensive, insincere 'apology' which at the same time blames the viewers for misinterpreting the offensive PSA ads, when the ads are clearly in poor taste," he said.

Boon Hun said: "Gosh, you keep using the word misinterpretations, like it's our fault!"

Ethnic Chinese make up about one quarter of Malaysia's population.

They often complain of being discriminated against by the country's laws, which give ethnic Malays preferential treatment.

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