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How a vacuum cleaner ad created a diplomatic crisis

How a vacuum cleaner ad created a diplomatic crisis

“Fire Your Indonesian Maid Now!”

This bitter battle takes place in the South Pacific, with Malaysia in one corner, and Indonesia set and ready across the ring.

According to the Jakarta Globe, the Indonesian government threatened a Malaysian cleaning company with legal action over an ad. The ad, which appears to promote a Roomba-like vacuum machine, pitches the vacuum by enticing would-be customers to “Fire Their Indonesian Maid.”

The Jakarata Globe reports:

Armanatha Nasir, spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said on Thursday that the ministry had requested the company make a public apology, or face possible legal action.

“We’ve sent a letter telling the company to make an apology in three different Malaysian newspapers of at least half a page,” Armanatha said.

“If they don’t do it in the next seven days, we’ll definitely take the next legal step.”

Then the embassies got involved. The Straits Times explains:

Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Herman Prayitno slammed the advertisement, calling it insensitive and demeaning to Indonesians, and asked Malaysian authorities to ban the advertisement.

The embassy has also asked the Malaysian government to ensure that such a case does not occur again.

Aside from sending a note in protest of the advertisement, the embassy has also assigned its lawyers to meet with the company’s representatives and to consider taking legal measures.

Newly-elected Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, visited Malaysia, but indicated the vacuum cleaner ad would not be the topic of official discussion.

Needless to say, many Indonesians were not thrilled with the ad. Thousands of Indonesians work next door in Malaysia, usually as domestic help.

The RoboVac advertisement — which was not broadcast, but widely circulated on social media — has been met with a chorus of indignation in Indonesia.

Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers travel to Malaysia, one of the region’s most affluent nations, each year to work. The majority of migrant workers find employment as domestic helpers and cases of abuse are frequent.

But this would not be a proper spat without a website hacking:

The company’s website was hacked on Thursday, making it it inaccessible.

The site displayed a warning message when opened and contained a message in broken English, which said: “Please be nice to our sisters, they have family, they have kids, all need her to be fed up.

“Don’t forget we are Indonesian people will protect them. Your advertisement is not very funny at all. You drop Indonesian people dignity at your feet. Thank you [sic].”

h/t The Washington Post

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Henry Hawkins | February 9, 2015 at 4:41 pm


If all my Indonesian maid would do is clean the floor, I’d have fired that wench years ago.



You can’t find ANYTHING on the “tips” page worth writing about?

How about “Our RoboVac Sucks Better than an Indonesian Maid”?