Preetipls, brother Subhas say sorry over rap video, mirroring apology by Mediacorp and Havas

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(SCREENSHOTS: Preetipls/Facebook)
(SCREENSHOTS: Preetipls/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Social media personality Preeti Nair, more well known as Preetipls, and her brother Subhas have apologised for “any hurt” that was “unintentionally caused” by their controversial rap video.

In a joint statement posted on Friday afternoon (2 August) across their social media platforms, the siblings described the three-minute music video as a “light-hearted” initiative to provide “greater consciousness to consumers, corporations and the many faces of Singapore”.

The message behind the video is that opportunities must be for everyone, said the statement.

“For that reason, K Muthusamy, well-known for his ability to address privilege, power, and censorship in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of this music video,” it added.

“He speaks to characters from all walks of life in Singapore, bringing home the point that only some people pay.”

In the video posted on social media on Monday, the Nair siblings mocked an advertisement for the E-Pay service, in which Chinese 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.

At least one police report was made against the advertisement.

In Preeti’s and Subhas’ video, which was peppered with expletives and vulgar gestures directed at Chinese Singaporeans, the duo implied that the advertisement is evidence of a racial bias against minorities here.

“Cos all they want is the brown dollar,” says the latter in one line of his rap, while his sister claims that “C.M.I.O.”, an abbreviation for “Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others”, actually stands for “Cancel Minority Is OK!”.

The video is currently under investigation by the police following a report made over its “offensive content”.

A version of it posted on Preeti’s Facebook page last Monday garnered more than 1,200 reactions and more than 650 shares, before it was taken down in the evening of the same day.

A spokesperson from the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a statement that the siblings had complied with a notice to to take down the video.

The original ad, which has since been taken down. (Screenshot from Twitter)
The original ad, which has since been taken down. (Screenshot from Twitter)

Several apologies were also made previously over the advertisement.

Creative agency Havas and Mediacorp's celebrity management unit issued a joint statement on 28 July to apologise for “any hurt that was unintentionally caused” by the advertisement.

The statement said, “The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone.

“For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign. He appears as characters from different walks of life in Singapore, bringing home the point that everyone can e-pay.

”We're sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused. Behind the ad is an initiative to provide greater convenience to consumers, merchants and small food businesses.”

Havas on Thursday reiterated its apology and said, “Our multicultural society defines us as a nation, and we regret if anyone has been offended by the campaign.”

NETS, which oversees the rollout of E-Pay, apologised on Wednesday night “for any hurt that its campaign has caused”.

The revised ad. (SCREENSHOT: E-Pay website)
The revised ad. (SCREENSHOT: E-Pay website)

The apology by the Nairs garnered over 400 reactions and 50 shares within half an hour of the Facebook post being uploaded.

In response, several netizens responded with supportive messages, with some calling the latest turn in events "a shame".

Facebook user Karlygash Adilet said, "It's a pity that you have to apologise. You really shouldn't have to."Another, Maria Kristin Braberry, wrote, "Only some people truly pay indeed."

"I hope you know how many people are rallying behind you," said Facebook user Jacki See.

Separately, Subhas has been removed from upcoming CNA musical documentary ROAR, with articles related to his involvement taken down as well.

“The video used four-letter words and vulgarities to insult Chinese Singaporeans. Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has said the video was meant to make minorities angry with Chinese Singaporeans,” said a CNA spokesperson.

“CNA strongly objects to all such offensive content which threatens racial harmony and will not associate with individuals who intentionally create such content.”

in response to criticism that the police investigation was an overreaction to a single video, Shanmugam said during a media briefing on Tuesday, “If we allow this, then we have to allow other videos.”

He said that those who see something they do not like should ask for an apology from the offending party. “If you think it’s criminal, you make a police report. You don’t yourself cross the line,” he added.

Other ministers and leaders also echoed his sentiments. The “tit-for-tat video done in response to it was disrespectful, and will lead us down a dark path”, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in a statement.

In a Facebook post, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin called the video “disturbing” and “unacceptable”, adding that “stern action” should be taken”.

Related Singapore stories:

4 key issues to consider regarding offensive 'brownface' E-Pay ad

COMMENT: Let's learn to deal with minor racial squabbles on our own

E-Pay ad 'in poor taste' but didn't breach code of practice: advertising authority

NETS apologises for E-Pay ad that was panned for being racially insensitive

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