foodpanda and HPB steer clear of 'misogynistic' OKLETSGO podcast

Following the President of Singapore Halimah Yacob calling out local podcast OKLETSGO for being offensive towards women, advertiser foodpanda has since taken a stand and distanced itself from sponsoring content on the channel. In a statement to Marketing, foodpanda said the company does not condone misogyny in any form. "We respect the contributions that women have made around the world, in our communities, and within our organisation," the statement added. 

Foodpanda had initially collaborated with OKLETSGO podcast over the Ramadan fasting month with "hopes to extend extra value to our Muslim customers in light of the trying Circuit Breaker period", the statement read. "We have since requested for the sponsored content to be removed. We will be relooking our considerations for future marketing partnerships to prevent similar instances from happening again," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) told CNA that it had a "one-off engagement" with OKLETSGO during the Ramadan and Hari Raya period. It also shared that the content was reviewed by HPB prior to airing and the controversial remarks were made post the engagement. OKLETSGO's sponsors include numerous government agencies such as Health Promotion Board, National Council Against Drug Abuse and Workforce Singapore, health products and property advisors. These sponsors have been mentioned in the description of the show and during the episodes. Marketing has reached out to several of these sponsors. 

Meanwhile MENDAKI, also a partner, said in a Facebook post it "stands firm in its belief that every individual must be respected and acknowledged as a contributing member of society." "We believe that such discourse and conversation can and must be carried out responsibly with dignity and mutual respect," it added, in a Facebook post. Marketing has reached out to hear more around its partnership with the content creators.

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Separately, President Halimah Yacob had said in a Facebook post that the best way to educate a community on respect for women, is a lifetime process, starting at a very young age, and the responsibility “resides with every one of us, and particularly those who have great influence over people through social media”.

“Women are not objects to be made fun of, ridiculed and trampled upon, and no one has the right to do that to them. Women have the right to be respected, valued for their contributions in the family and in our society. Taking cheap pot shots at women to boost ratings or to make some people laugh no matter how offensive, cannot be justified under any label be it freedom of speech or encouraging conversations,” she added. She then asked the creators of podcast OKLETSGO to sincerely and humbly apologise to all women for their “offensive, humiliating and misogynistic remarks”on their podcasts about women.

“It's not ok to treat women like dirtbags and punching bags. Our women in Singapore have worked very hard to raise their status through education, employment and in raising healthy families. They are important in building healthy communities which will be undermined by such podcasts. They don’t deserve this treatment by OKLETSGO or any other group,” she said.

Following her call for an apology, the group put up a statement saying that it is “truly sorry” that it took the creators “this long to realise the extent of hurt that we have caused”. “Thank you, Madam President and respected individuals/groups for amplifying the voices of those who have been hurting, and we take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to all our listeners who we have hurt with our words and content. We must admit that it is an ongoing process for us to fully learn what went wrong. We came from an industry that has peddled in these norms for a very long time, both on and off screen. This episode is a chance for us to unlearn some of what has been normalised around us, and truly take steps towards positive change,” the apology note read.

“The growth of our channel has made clear that we have a responsibility towards our community, and not only specific segments of it,” it added.

Meanwhile women’s rights advocacy group AWARE also denounced the misogynistic language from the hosts of OKLETSGO and added some actions for the trio to take note ok. These include:

  • Continue to condemn the actions of your fanbase in harassing your critics through rape threats and doxxing. Do not encourage that repugnant (and possibly illegal) behaviour with silence or, worse, your own remarks, private or public.
  • Have an episode, or multiple, where you thoroughly examine your perspectives on gender. Educate your listeners about the dangers of objectification, slut-shaming and other problematic myths about sex. We are happy to support you on this.
  • Sign up for the next edition of our Sexual Assault First Responder Training, which is designed to put attendees into the shoes of a sexual assault survivor.
  • Commit to more nuanced, sensitive, trauma-informed discourse in all future content - whether or not the President is listening.

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