In response to a rap video uploaded by local YouTuber and comedian Preeti Nair, famously known as Preetipls, along with her brother, rapper Subhas Nair, Home Affairs and Law Minister K.Shanmugam said that it “crosses the line” and is not acceptable.
“This rap video insults Chinese Singaporeans, uses four-letter words on Chinese Singaporeans, vulgar gestures, pointing of middle finger, to make minorities angry with Chinese Singaporeans,” he said.
He added, “When you use four-letter words, vulgar language, attack another race, put it out in public, we have to draw the line and say not acceptable.”
On Monday (29 June), the siblings uploaded a video titled “K. Muthusamy” in retaliation to an advertisement created for epaysg.com, an e-payment website, which featured Mediacorp actor and DJ Dennis Chew impersonating different races.
In the advertisement, one can see Chew dressed up as different races in Singapore such as a Malay woman in a headscarf as well as an Indian man with darkened skin. He also portrayed the role of a Chinese woman in a pink jacket and a Chinese man with a moustache in the advertisement.
As such, the rap duo slammed the advertisement in its video which contains offensive content. In the video, the siblings can be seen repeatedly uttering “Chinese people always out here f***king it up”, while condemning Chinese Singaporeans who they claim are racist and exploit minorities for money.
Upon viewing the rap video, on Tuesday (30 July), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) released a statement stating that it had issued a notice to the publisher of the video to remove the clip, and they have agreed to do so.
IMDA added that after assessing the video, it had forbidden content under the Internet Code of Practice, and unacceptable in terms of public interest and national harmony.
By Tuesday afternoon, the video was taken down from Facebook and other social media channels. Both the original video as well as the re-uploaded ones have been taken down because of a complaint from the Government.
If that is not all, Mediacorp also issued an apology for its controversial advertisement featuring Chew, and the epaysg.com website has also removed it.
Although Mr Shanmugam agrees that the epaysg.com advertisement was done “in poor taste”, but he said Preeti’s video did cross the line, nothing that he takes a “zero tolerance” approach to such matters. This is because he noted that if “speech, songs like this are allowed, slowly but surely, it will get worse.”
The minister also informed that he has asked the police to investigate the matter.
He went on further to say that if someone doesn’t like content produced by another person, then they need to ask for an apology or lodge a police report.
“If (it was) something you didn’t like, then you ask for an apology. If you think it is criminal, you make a police report. You don’t cross the line yourself,” the Minister explained.
However, he noted that some people may question why the Government is taking this matter so seriously, mentioning that one video is not going to cause any violence, and the public will laugh this off. This might be the response, but if this one rap video is allowed, then the Government will have to allow hundreds of others that may pop up in the future, said Mr Shanmugam.
“And suppose you allow this video? Let’s say a Chinese now does a video attacking Indians, Malays using four-letter words, vulgar gestures… And let’s say there are hundreds or thousands of such videos. How do you think the Indians and Malays will feel?” he asked.
He added, “Would people feel safe? Will the minorities feel safe? There are good reasons why Singapore is different, why there is racial harmony here, why all races feel safe, why minorities feel safe. And we must maintain that,” he added. Similarly, if vulgarities were used to describe another person’s religion, this will also not be allowed”.
Over on social media, there are a bunch of online users who condemn the Law Minister for the Government’s unfair handling of both the advertisement by E-Pay and the rap video. They question how is it possible for a big company like Mediacorp to get away with merely an apology after publishing an offensive advertisement, whereas the siblings are faced with harsher punishment and is being investigated by the police for their video, noting that there’s a “double standard” in this issue. If that is not all, some said on the Facebook pages of ST and CNA that the root of this whole problem first started with the E-Pay ad.
On the other hand, a large number of netizens supported Mr Shanmugam for his response to the rap video, stating that they agree with what he said and it is fair for the Government to take action against the duo. They explained that it is important to maintain racial harmony and promote racial cohesion in the country, hence highlighting that no offensive racial content should be allowed.
A few of them added that the problem first started because of Mediacorp’s ad and they should not be allowed to publish the ad in the first place.