Is racist Big Pharmacy ad a symptom of vernacular school system that breeds cultural insensitivity?

IT BEGGARS belief that in this day and age racist content can actually pass for an organisation’s official and approved content.

But hey this is Malaysia that seems to be operating on a different planet from the rest of civilisation. Politicians making inflammatory racist remarks are par for the course. In Malaysia, it would seem odd if a week passes without some public figure making such a remark.

Now, it seems even retail chains feel it’s within their remit to post insensitive advertisements on social media, pandering to racist stereotypes.

This was the case of Big Pharmacy whose advert on social media has received swift condemnation from Malaysians from all backgrounds for mocking people of Indian heritage.

Big Pharmacy has since issued a grovelling apology, stating:

“We recognise the hurtful and offensive nature of this content, and claim full responsibility for our lack of due diligence.

“We are – and have always been – committed to inclusion and respect. This mistake is one that we take seriously, will learn from and improve as we serve all members of our community.”

The question arises how is it that such blatantly racist content could pass internal censure?

One possibility is that all the decision makers are from a single racial group who very possibly have a background in vernacular education.

This is why vernacular education has become such a political hot potato. When large groups of pupils from the same race are grouped together, it creates a closed environment whereby its inhabitants lack exposure to other cultures.

It can be argued that ignorance and lack of cultural understanding are the normal by-products of such an environment. These pupils carry prejudices of sorts with them into the working world thinking they are comic geniuses for creating content such as that of the Big Pharmacy video.

Vernacular schools really need to be thinking of how they are preparing its students to work and live in a culturally diverse society. Multiple ‘A’s in exams mean nothing when real-life skills are so severely lacking.

In the meantime, Big Pharmacy’s faux pas is probably a most worthy candidate for a boycott. Let all businesses know that such racist attitudes will not be tolerated. – Oct 31, 2023

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