Cathay unable to execute ASAS’s decision to have “Supporting the freedom to love” removed from ad

It is reported that Cathay declined to follow the advice from the Singapore advertising authority to remove the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” on an advertisement displayed on an escalator in its Cineleisure shopping mall due to the ownership of the ad.

A Cathay spokesperson was quoted by Marketing Interactive,“Given that the ownership of the ad belongs to Pink Dot, Cathay is not in the position to decide on the removal of the statement ‘Supporting the freedom to love’ on the advertisement,” and added that it stands by its previous statement to support an all-inclusive society.

The spokesperson further added,“Since making the statement, Cathay has received, and is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of positive support from the public through emails and social media. We hope that this positivity can be felt by all, and wish for greater acceptance and understanding amongst fellow Singaporeans,” the Cathay spokesperson said.


According to earlier reports, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) had earlier voiced its stance that the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” must be removed from the advertisement that is on display at Cathy Cineleisure for the Pink Dot 2017.

And as if in clear defiance of ASAS’s recommendation, the mall has also just put up a huge brand new advertisement smack right at the entrance of the shopping mall.

ASAS is an advisory council to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). CASE itself is a government organised non-government organisation that claims to champion consumer causes but is inevidently controlled by the government. Its president is Mr Lim Biow Chuan, a Member of Parliament from the People’s Action Party.

An ASAS spokesperson was quoted to have said that all advertisements in Singapore must comply with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), and that the premise is that all advertisements must be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”.

Noting the Public Order Act 2009 (Chapter 257A), ASAS explained to Marketing that the organisers of Pink Dot may promote the event as long as they possess the necessary permit to hold it.

ASAS cited the SCAP’s General Principles, specifically under its “Family values” section 10.1, where advertisements should not “downplay the importance of the family as a unit and foundation of society.”

SCAP’s General Principles

As such, ASAS stated that in order to keep with the shared values in Singapore’s society, such as “family as the basic unit of society”, “community support and respect for the individual”; and “consensus, not conflict”, the council is of the view that the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” must be removed.

Ridiculous stance by ASAS

Award winning director and producer for this year’s Pink Dot campaign video, Boo Junfeng remarked ASAS’s stance as being ridiculous.

“Pink Dot, with its tag line “Supporting the freedom to love”, has always acknowledged “family as the basic unit of society”. It has also always called for “community support and respect for the individual” and “consensus, not conflict” among Singaporeans.

In fact, its campaigns every year have precisely been calling on Singaporeans to build better understanding among one another and forge stronger bonds within the family. Many have responded positively to its messaging.

How does “Supporting the freedom to love” contravene anything?”

No legal basis for ASAS’s call for amendment

Lawyer and co-founder of TOC, Remy Choo wrote on his Facebook post, commenting that the ASAS has no legal basis for asking for the amendment.

The Advertising Standards Association of Singapore has no legal basis for asking Cathay to amend the Pink Dot advertisement on their premises. How does the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” in any way “downplay the importance of the family as a unit and foundation of society”? Are gay people not children, siblings, relatives, family? On whose behalf and behest is the ASAS making bigoted, inaccurate and legally wrong statements like these? If I were a member of the ASAS, I would think twice before standing by such a statement.

ASAS acting on religious agenda?

Ovidia Yu, award-winning female novelist, short-story writer and playwright wrote that she had phoned ASAS to ask who had made the decision to demand Cathay remove their banner, given it does not violate any of the ICC guidelines.

“When I asked if no one in ASAS was aware how decisions were made, he said the chairman of ASAS has final say but that he could not give me his chairman’s name.

(I told him I had looked it up and could tell him who his chairman was if he didn’t know. He then agreed that the ASAS Chairman is Prof Tan Sze Wee)

The man on the phone (ASAS Tel: 6461 1888) said he could not say if the decision had been made in a meeting or if one person had made that decision, possibly after receiving a complaint from a personal friend or fellow member of the Barker Road Methodist Church where Prof Tan is a member.

Ms Yu recollects the incident with the first Pink Picnic after Mary Loh reported to her church that she had been ‘unwittingly invited’ to the :unofficial event” at Botanic Gardens on National Day.

“BTW it wasn’t an unwitting invitation, not from me at least. I had thought she was a friend. I was wrong and must say I’m starting to believe I can’t trust people who call themselves ‘Christians’. Especially not in positions of secular state authority where they enforce their church teachings on us.)

He also did not deny that if I complained via email feedback as recommended, it would most likely be handled by administrative staff and not seen by decision makers/ the decision maker.”

The Online Citizen had tried to reach out to Cathay for comments since 5 June but there had been no response till date.