SINGAPORE: Local actor and deejay Dennis Chew apologised on Wednesday (Aug 7) for his part in a recent controversial advertisement by NETS promoting the E-Pay platform.
Chew, who is Chinese, appeared “brownface” in the ad. His skin was made up to look darker to portray an Indian man. It also showed him portraying a Malay woman and cross-dressing as a Chinese woman.
In a social media post on Wednesday evening, Chew said his role in the ad had caused “much disappointment”.
“For many days I held back what I have to say, afraid of making things worse,” he said. “I feel terrible about how things turned out.”
He added: “I cannot undo things but I would like to say to everyone, I am deeply sorry. We live in a harmonious multiracial society and we must never take it for granted.
“I will set higher expectations of myself. I will do better by my family, friends, colleagues and most importantly, all of you.”
NETS had engaged Havas Worldwide as its creative agency for the publicity campaign for its e-payment app E-Pay. Havas then engaged Mediacorp’s celebrity management arm, The Celebrity Agency, to cast Chew as the face of the campaign.
In response to the backlash, NETS, Havas and The Celebrity Agency have apologised for “any hurt” caused.
Amid the online flak, YouTuber Preeti Nair, better known online as Preetipls, posted a rap video in response to the ad.
The video, featuring Preetipls and her brother Subhas Nair, contained vulgarities targeted at Chinese Singaporeans. Police are investigating the video for “offensive content”.
The Nair siblings on Aug 2 said that they were “sorry for any hurt” caused by the video, a statement that the Ministry of Home Affairs criticised as “a mock, insincere apology“.
In a second statement the following day, the duo said that they “unconditionally apologise for the tone, aggression, vulgarities, and gestures” used in the video.
“We have apologised but we understand that more needs to be said and done,” the siblings said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“People are offended and we sincerely apologise for it. If we could do it again, we would change the manner in which we approached the issue, and would have worded out thoughts better.”