Malaysian firm in racism controversy over saree ad

  • 28 Jul 2019

A Malaysian company has become embroiled in a racism controversy after the launch of its clothing line raised cries of discrimination against dark-skinned people.
SBK Group of Companies was thrust into the spotlight when its quest to find 'One Beautiful Lady' caused anger online. The advertisement, which called for 'female models for a new launch of designer wear', featured a picture of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen wearing a saree – traditional Indian wear.
However, the post specifically asked for Caucasians, Eurasians, Chinese and North Indians to participate in the 'One Beautiful Lady' model search – notably leaving out South Indians, sparking accusations of racism and colour discrimination.
Facebook user Sumitra Selvaraj highlighted issue on her social media page, expressing shock at the blatant racism and colourism. In her post, she said she was going to trace the company owners and as them what they were thinking of when they approved the ad, why they then deleted it from their FB page and how they thought they could get away without at least apologising for it. 

However, what’s arguably worse than posting the ad in the first place is the way the firm handled its ‘apology’. While it originally, through its official account, issued a straightforward apology, its Group Managing Director, S. Khugan later made matters worse when he came out with a statement that caused further anger for its perceived insincerity. In the statement, he blamed netizens for not being interested in any explanations but “more interested in our persecution”. He further stated in the post that the company merely wants to “Cari Makan like the rest of you”.
Here's what SKB Group of Companies posted on their Facebook:

In one of the comment, a representative of SKB revealed that they are coming up with a 'high-end bikini line' and South Indians wouldn't fit the bill:

Similar to Sumitra, several other social media users have also voiced their concern and frustration over such post by SKB Group of Companies for their shallow thinking and poor decision making.
Here's what they posted regarding this issue:


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