ASICS Malaysia has clarified that it is no longer affiliated with former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha Katie James. In a holding statement to A+M, the sports brand said James is not an official ambassador of ASICS, and her views expressed do not represent ASICS’ brand values embodied in its ethos. "We adopt a zero-tolerance policy on matters of discrimination including racism," the statement added.
James was seen sporting one of ASICS' shoes in an Instagram post published on 3 May, in which she tagged the sports brand as well. ASICS Malaysia said it was "a single one-off posting" prior to the incident, and "ASICS is no longer affiliated with this media personality". The brand added: "ASICS does not condone any harmful words or actions that are derogatory or discriminatory, nor any negative behaviour which manifestly goes against ASICS' values and spirit." A quick check by A+M showed that the post involving ASICS has since been taken down.
The statement came after James shared her views about the current Black Lives Matter protests in America. In a series of Instagram Stories, James said that although she does not live in America, it seems to her as if the whites won. “Because if you are angry, you respond in rage and anguish. That means it has power over you. They have power over you,” she said. She added that most people are “mindlessly” following what the masses do, creating unnecessary anguish. James also said: “To the black people, relax, take it as a challenge makes you stronger. You chose to be born as a coloured person in America for a reason. To learn a certain lesson.”
Meanwhile, integrated marketing consultancy ALYFE Group also clarified in an Instagram Story that James is not officially associated, affiliated, under contract with, or managed by ALYFE Group. “Our involvement with James extends to one individual campaign, which featured many other influencers, which was conducted well before these shocking views were made public yesterday,” the company said.
ALYFE Group clarified that it neither endorses, supports, or shares these “discriminatory views nor condone this behaviour”. ALYFE Group also said it is not, and will never be, its intention or policy to promote, sponsor or collaborate with anyone who holds these views.
“As a lifestyle marketing company, we celebrate diversity, because that diversity reflects exactly that – our lifestyle. More so, our society. We work with talents, clients and creatives from multiple backgrounds and would never discriminate based on race. We apologise for any misunderstanding,” the company said.
Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation (MUMO) has also deemed the recent social media posts by James “inappropriate, offensive, unacceptable and hurtful”. MUMO added on Twitter that it stands for a non-racial society and “strongly condemns” all acts of racism and prejudice anywhere in the world.
A quick check by A+M found that some netizens have questioned her choice of words in choosing to be "born as a coloured person", and called her out for trivialising experiences faced by the coloured or minority communities. Some on social media have also called James out for being “privileged” and requested for MUMO to revoke her title of Miss Universe Malaysia 2017.
MUMO said in its statement that the views expressed on her personal Instagram account are her own personal views and “are neither the view nor position of MUMO”. “James is not contracted to MUMO and has not represented the organisation since June 2018," it added.
Separately, a search by A+M found that James has also mentioned Malaysian designer Brian Khoo, self-tanning brand Loving Tan, and beauty brand Huda Beauty in her posts. A+M has reached out to James, Malaysian designer Brian Khoo, self-tanning brand Loving Tan, and beauty brand Huda Beauty for comment.
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