According to the South China Morning Post, Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said models with ‘pan-Asian’ features were not representative of Malaysian demographics.
"Using pan-Asian faces means downgrading local faces," he said. "We have to give priority to models with local looks."
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
The announcement on Sunday extended the ban to advertising carried by private television stations, the print media and billboards.
The minister said the ban would eventually cover all media, but it was unclear when it would take effect.
The ministry would have the power to decide on whether a model's features were appropriate, and be backed up by the weight of law.
A similar ban was imposed in 1997, but the law was later shelved amid an outcry. Now, the government is again under pressure from cultural and religious purists who want to promote "local faces" in the media.
The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia said rigid guidelines were already "killing creativity" in the industry.
Australians Rebecca Tan (1st pic) and Sarah Tan ( 2nd pic) – they’re not related – are two of the most high profile faces in the local modelling business. You may not be familiar with their names but you’d definitely recognise their faces. Not to mention MTV darling Denise Keller (3rd pic).
So aside from the Chinese faces we see, and I’m generalising here, possibly the next largest groups would be the pan-Asians and Caucasians.
From an advertiser’s point of view, let’s do an informal poll, what’s right or wrong about preferring models of mixed parentage? Does race affect actual sales figures?
Personally, I feel such images in the media have gotten so commonplace that I don’t question them anymore, but is there even a need to question?