Asas needs diversity in its council

While it is reassuring to hear that the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) intends to review its guidelines to prevent another "brownface" saga from occurring again, I wonder if it could have been avoided in the first place (Guideline to ensure careful use of race, ethnicity in ads, Aug 4).

A check on Asas' website reveals that of its council's 28 members, none appear to be from the major minority races, Malay and Indian, with the vast majority appearing to be Chinese.

Asas states that its council's terms of reference are to "promote ethical advertising and encourage the practice of effective self-regulation in Singapore" and "provide advice on the acceptability of advertisements, taking into consideration the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice and community standards".

How will Asas have the moral authority to decide what ads adhere to racial guidelines if certain races do not have a say?

The Presidential Council for Minority Rights, which ensures that our laws do not discriminate against any races, has individuals from different racial and religious groups on board.

Asas should follow suit and have various races represented on its council. After all, it is an authority that regulates advertising standards in a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious society, and its composition of members should reflect this reality.

Having more diverse representation on Asas' council may help to ensure that any racially unacceptable elements in ads are not overlooked before the ad is made public.

Sean Lim Wei Xin