In the most recent development of the racist advertisement/video saga, social media personality Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas Nair were issued with a two-year conditional warning each by the police today (14 August) over the rap video they released last month.
The warning was issued under Section 298A(a) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224 which covers the offence of wounding racial feelings. The conditional warning means that the duo are liable to be charged with the offence should they breach the conditions of the warning. Following the condition period, they will no longer be subject to prosecution for the offence.
The offending video in question was released by the sibling duo as a response to an advertisement created for e-payment website E-Pay which featured Mediacorp actor and DJ Dennis Chew impersonating different races. In the E-Pay ad, Mr Chew can be seen playing four different characters including a Malay woman wearing a headscarf. He also had artificially darkened skin to portray an Indian man, the act commonly referred to as ‘Brownface’.
The rap video by the Nair siblings contained lyrics with expletives that mocked Chinese Singaporeans for exploiting minorities in Singapore for monetary gain.
The police statement noted, “The video was in clear contravention of the Penal Code. If this video were to be allowed, then similar expletive-laden, insulting, offensive videos, targeted at all communities will have to be allowed.”
It continued, “There is clear evidence around the world, including in the past week, that such paths inevitably lead to more racism, more racial tensions, and eventually, violence.
“It will be the minority communities, specifically the Malay and Indian communities, who could suffer more in such a situation.”
The statement said that investigations into the duo were launched after a police report was filed against the video on 29 July.
The police also reiterated in their statement Singapore’s “clear approach” in saying “no to offensive speech targeted at race and religion”. They also highlighted that the Nair siblings had issued public apologies for their actions.
Following the release of the duo’s video, the creative agency appointed for the advertisement, Havas Worldwide, and The Celebrity Agency (TCA), Mediacorp’s celebrity management arm had issued an apology for the E-Pay ad. Preeti and Subhas Nair then followed up with apologies for their own.
Even so, action is only being taken against the duo while E-Pay is being let off the hook. In regards to the E-Pay ad, the police said that would not be taking any further action on that front as the Attorney-General’s Chambers had advised that no criminal offence had been committed.