Ad Nut
Jan 17, 2018

Meet Leticia, the somewhat dim domestic helper learning about her rights

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower takes a comedic approach to promoting fair treatment of domestic helpers. But is stereotyping a wise course?

In a series to educate people about fair treatment of domestic helpers, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has brought on actress Michelle Chong to reprise a supposedly funny character she originated on a comedy TV series.

In the first of a series of three clips (above), the character, Leticia, learns that her employer isn't allowed to withold her pay, even if the employer asserts that she's doing so for Leticia's own good.

Ad Nut, like any empathetic creature, fully supports treating domestic helpers as you know...people. They have rights. And more to the point, they work in a situation where abuses are all too easy to hide.

It's interesting that the MOM is playing a somewhat risky game here. It's trying to reach both employers and domestic workers with its message about fair treatment. But to do so, it's chosen an actress of Chinese ethnicity who puts on a fake accent and plays a Filipina character who, let's face it, is a bit dim. She also makes so many references to eating Jolibee chicken that Ad Nut thought maybe a product-placement deal had been struck.

So, is a character that perpetuates stereotypes the best way for the MOM to achieve its noble ends? So far, there doesn't seem to be any backlash, at least according to the Facebook comments. So you may argue that the stereotypes are mild, and no one's being harmed. And perhaps that's true. But Ad Nut would be interested in talking to some actual foreign domestic workers to see what they think.

On an unrelated note, Ad Nut finds it really strange that Leticia speaks of herself in the third person. What kind of weirdo would talk like that, Ad Nut wonders?

Ad NutAd Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. Check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame.


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