The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has issued a new statement clarifying that ASAS’ process of deciding on whether or not an ad is suitable for display is not a one-man decision. The statement was signed off by ASAS chairman, Tan Sze Wee.
The clarification is hot on the heels of its stance on Pink Dot’s ad placements at Cathay Cineleisure, where the latter was asked to amend the tagline “supporting the freedom to love”. The clarification also follows recent allegations made by netizens that the decision was likely made by a single person in the organisation, namely its chairman Tan.
According to Tan's statement, when the ASAS Council makes decisions on advertisements that it receives feedback on, members will have one vote, and all decisions will be made by a “simple majority of the members present”.
In the event that the votes are divided, the chairman will have a casting vote.
"Any member of ASAS who has a vested interest in a dispute must immediately declare that interest and be absent from all deliberations,” the statement read.
Members of the ASAS Council are appointed by their respective organisations. The members represent advertisers, advertising agencies, media owners, government agencies, industry associations and other public organisations. The spokesperson added that information on the ASAS Council's deliberation process has always been publicly accessible on the ASAS website.
Why it told Pink Dot to amend the tagline "Supporting the freedom to love"
Addressing its decision to ask Pink Dot organisers to amend its “Supporting the freedom to love” tagline, the statement explained that the ASAS Council is of the view that a factual advertisement featuring the event date, time and venue is acceptable. However, the council is also of the view that advertisements in public spaces should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to public sentiments.
As such, advertisers should avoid statements that may contribute to heightened public sensitivities.
"This was the basis on which ASAS asked Cathay and Pink Dot to consider removing the tagline ‘Supporting the freedom to love’,” the statement read.
The statement also addressed the complaints received on the ad. It explained that ASAS relies on “public feedback as its primary regulatory mechanism”, which also applies to the advertisement in question.
“Due to confidentiality reasons, however, ASAS is not at liberty to disclose the source of any feedback it receives,” the statement said. This follows earlier statements made by Pink Dot organisers that it could not "help but wonder" if the ASAS council's request arose out of complaints by a small group of people against Pink Dot who "vociferously support" the discrimination of Singapore’s LGBT community.
“Our work requires us to see past limitations and think outside the box”
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