‘We didn’t buy no HDB’: M’sian actor’s family photo used in S’pore property agents’ ad

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Malaysian actor and content creator Bernard Hiew discovered a curious post on Facebook one day — a boosted ad with his family portrait in it.

Sponsored ad on Facebook

The ad was run by some property agents in Singapore, featuring a photo of a couple with their baby.

The caption shared how the agents had met “Shi Xian” and “Cheryl”, who are “working parents with a young daughter”.

They supposedly met when the couple was looking for a new home (either a more “spacious home”, or a condominium “upgrade”) after their 4-room HDB flat had met its Minimum Occupancy Period.

But something was a little off.

“We didn’t buy no HDB,” Hiew said in his Instagram story. And perhaps more importantly: “I’m not Shi Xian.”


According to a screenshot uploaded to his Instagram stories highlights, the ad started running on June 30, 2021.


Hiew’s Instagram story claimed that they were using his family portrait and “(lied) about it”.

In the comment section of the Facebook post, which apparently had people pointing out the fact that the photo did not match the details of the story, one of the property agents responded saying that the story of Shi Xian and Cheryl is “a true story”, and they did not make it up.

They also acknowledged that the photo was a “mistake” as it did not belong to their clients.


Mothership has reached out to Hiew to find out more.

“Very sorry”

On July 1, the property agents put out a Facebook post apologising for using Hiew’s family portrait for their advertisement. It also appears that the post has been removed.

They explained that they did not have pictures of their client and instead took a family portrait image from the internet, without knowing who the subjects were.

The family photo can be found on the website of a Malaysia-based photographer, Joshua Koh, who took a series of family photos for Hiew.

They said that they have gotten in touch with Hiew to apologise.

In the comments, they also clarified that an apology was sent via Facebook messenger as well as Instagram. They have also since replied to his email.

Top photo via Bernard Hiew’s Instagram.