Outcry as wombat in ad mistaken for a pig

PETALING JAYA • Do you know what a wombat is? Some Malaysians apparently do not, according to The Star daily yesterday.

It said Kuala Lumpur City Hall had to temporarily remove an advertisement from an electronic billboard at Bukit Bintang because some people had mistaken a wombat featured in it for a pig.

There was an outcry on social media after a screenshot of the animal in a traditional Malay outfit went viral. A message accompanying the screenshot said it featured a "pig wearing a songkok and baju Melayu while accompanied by a Selamat Hari Raya greeting".

Agreeing that the animal featured was a wombat, Mayor Ahmad Phesal Talib said: "An irresponsible person perceived it as a pig and spread false rumours on the Internet which led to the public misconception."

The advertisement was placed by Servcorp, an Australia-based company offering serviced offices in the region, which uses a wombat in suit called "Sidney" as its mascot.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has had to temporarily remove an ad of a wombat in a traditional Malay outfit from an electronic billboard. PHOTO: TWITTER

Sidney has been touted by the company as the "world's wisest wombat", and it even has its own Facebook page as well as website.

The company yesterday issued an apology on its Facebook page for "any confusion caused".

"It would seem some people mistook the wombat for a pig and during the holy month of Ramadan, this might lead to some sensitivities," the statement said.

The company added that it had no intention to offend any race or religion although it noted that there were no prior issues with the use of its mascot anywhere else in the world, including in the Middle East.

Pork is considered haram, or forbidden, by the Muslims, who form about 60 per cent of Malaysia's population.

Native to Australia, wombats are marsupials, like kangaroos, wallabies and koalas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'Outcry as wombat in ad mistaken for a pig'. Print Edition | Subscribe