​“Fire your Indonesian maid”: Indonesia condemns insulting Malaysian ad for robot vacuum cleaner

No, the unassuming dog isn’t in on the racism. Screenshot taken from www.neatorobotcleaner.com.my

Some say a lot of our dirty work will be done by robots in the future. Neato Robotics Malaysia’s robot vacuum cleaners look pretty… neato, but their advertisement for it is downright insulting.

The ad, which has the tagline, “Fire your Indonesian maid,” suggests that Indonesian maids in Malaysia are obsolete with the arrival of the robotic vacuum cleaners.

Sure, it’s common knowledge that many Indonesian maids work in Malaysia, but couldn’t they have taken “Indonesian” out of the sentence and avoided the controversy?

The screenshot above was taken from the official website of Neato Robotics Malaysia today, meaning either they haven’t realized their mistake, or they have but they’re willing to stick to it anyway (as they say, bad publicity is still publicity).

The Indonesian Embassy (KBRI) in Kuala Lumpur has already condemned the ad and filed a formal complaint to the Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs about it yesterday.

“The KBRI is asking Malaysian authorities to ban the advert, including the advert on the Neato Robotics website (www.neatorobotcleaner.com.my). The KBRI is also asking the Malaysian government to take steps to make sure that there is to be no more racist adverts for any product that is insulting to the Indonesian people in the future,” the KBRI wrote in a press release, as picked up by Tempo today. 

In addition to the formal complaint to the Malaysian government, the KBRI in Kuala Lumpur is also sending a lawyer to speak with Neato Robotics Malaysia and to figure out what legal steps should be taken against the robotics company.

This controversy comes at a rather fitting time for Indonesia and Malaysia. After all, Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to visit Malaysia on February 5-7 to strengthen bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries. Let’s hope this one controversial ad won’t make things awkward between Jokowi and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.


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