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UPDATE: The Infocomm Media Development Authority issued a statement to say it notified Preeti and her brother to take down the video
SINGAPORE — A music video by social media personality Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas in which they mocked a controversial advertisement has “crossed the line” by insulting Chinese people, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Tuesday (30 July).
“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 during a media doorstop.
Those who see something they do not like should ask for an apology from the offending party, Shanmugam advised. “If you think it’s criminal, you make a police report. You don’t yourself cross the line,” he added.
Video taken down
In the video posted on Facebook on Monday, Preeti – who goes by the moniker Preetipls – and her brother mock an advertisement for the E-Pay service in which Mediacorp actor Dennis Chew was depicted as four different characters, including an Indian man with artificially darkened skin and a Malay woman wearing a headscarf.
The advertisement, which has since been taken down from the E-Pay site, was widely criticised for being racially insensitive. Mediacorp has since apologised for the advertisement and stated any hurt caused was unintentional.
Shanmugam said that the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) had asked Facebook to remove the video from its platform. As of Tuesday evening, it was no longer available on Facebook or YouTube.
A spokesperson from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said IMDA had issued a notice to Preetipls and Subhas to take down the video and they have complied.
“IMDA has assessed that the video by Preetipls and Subhas constitutes prohibited content under the Internet Code of Practice, that is objectionable on grounds of public interest and national harmony.”
No offence committed with controversial ad
Noting that some might think the government has overreacted to a single video, he added that “if we allow this, then we have to allow other videos”.
“There can then be hundreds of such videos... What do you think will happen to our racial harmony?” he asked.
Regarding the advertisement, Shanmugam said he had been advised by lawyers that no offence had been committed.
The minister added that he also found it “very odd” that Preeti Nair had in an earlier video on Chinese New Year done the “very same thing that the ad was criticised for”.
Describing the video, Shanmugam said Preeti had dressed in a cheongsam and made fun of Chinese New Year while also attacking Chinese people.
“What was that in response to?” he asked.