Possible to construe a message in different ways

Students dressed in various ethnic costumes to commemorate Racial Harmony Day on July 19, 2019.
Students dressed in various ethnic costumes to commemorate Racial Harmony Day on July 19, 2019.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

When I first saw the "brownface" advertisement, my initial reaction was that it was a rather interesting (and perhaps even intelligent) advert, in that it was trying to show that whether we are Chinese, Indian, Malay or Eurasian, deep down we are the same, as the same person was used to portray the different races (Why depicting 'brownface' characters is no joke, Aug 3).

I also thought, by using the same character, the message was that in Singapore, even though we may be of different races, fundamentally, we are the same people and, therefore, should be united and be treated the same.

It does not matter if a person is Chinese, Malay, Indian or another race. It is always possible to construe a message in different ways.

A simple statement like "this dish is interesting" can be interpreted to mean it is unique, it is something which I will not want to try again, or it is tasty.

I just wonder if the (silent) majority of Singaporeans may have thought that the advert was quite innocuous.

I also wondered if perhaps the reason the same person was used was for cost saving?

Joseph Tan Peng Chin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2019, with the headline 'Possible to construe a message in different ways'. Print Edition | Subscribe