SINGAPORE — A day after issuing an apology which was deemed “mock” and “insincere” by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), social media personality Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas posted another statement of contrition on Saturday afternoon (3 August).
In the latest two-page statement posted on their social media platforms, the siblings said that they “unconditionally apologise for the tone, aggression, vulgarities, and gestures used in the K. Muthusamy music video”.
“People are offended and we sincerely apologise for it,” their statement read.
“If we could do it over again, we would change the manner in which we approached this issue, and would have worded our thoughts better.”
Video made only to ‘spark a conversation’: Nairs
The siblings’ controversial video, posted on social media on Monday, mocked an E-Pay advertisement 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.
The Nairs insisted that they only wanted to spark a conversation and corporations to stop painting people brown to portray a minority.
“(The video) was born from a place of frustration and pain, and creating was part of our healing process,” their statement said.
“We want to continue to participate in the on-going national discussion, but to do so responsibly. It has been a difficult time, but a silver lining is that ‘brownface’ will probably never happen again in Singapore.”
First apology slammed by MHA
The siblings’ first statement on Friday was slammed by MHA as a “mock, insincere apology”, as it was a spoof of an earlier apology by creative agency Havas Worldwide for the E-Pay advertisement.
MHA said the Nairs’ “pretence of an apology” goes to show “contempt for the many Singaporeans who have expressed concern at their blatantly racist rap video”.
MHA also mentioned that Preeti – who goes by the moniker Preetipls on social media – had published a video a year ago in which she acted as a Chinese and “mocked the Chinese community’s practices, culture and traditions”.
Siblings defend other contents made by them
In Saturday’s statement of apology, Preeti insisted that her Preetipls content has always been about parody, satire, sarcasm and unconventional ways to discuss social causes, including racial harmony.
“If you watch the video in its entirety, you would understand the jokes made and the self-deprecating, ridiculousness that is ‘Preetipls’. If you take any one of my jokes out of context, the intended outcome will never be achieved,” she said.
Subhas also defended his rap song “Utopia” in the statement, saying that it is a song about justice in Singapore for all migrant workers, “including sex workers, domestic helpers and construction workers”.
The song was part of a CNA-commissioned project, scheduled to have been released as part of the ROAR documentary.
However, CNA has removed Subhas from the documentary after the siblings’ video was being investigated by police, saying that it “strongly objects to all such offensive content which threatens racial harmony and will not associate with individuals who intentionally create such content”.
“My work, out of context, can be imbued with any interpretation and alleged intention,” Subhas said in Saturday’s statement. “My only wish is to bring to light the stories on the sidelines and that are invisible in the Singapore narrative... ‘Utopia’ is a song I unequivocally stand behind.”
Lot of takeaways from episode: Nairs
The statement concluded with the Nair siblings saying that there are a lot of takeaways from this episode.
“It is a moment of growth for us all,” they said. “While our work did bring about a discussion about race in Singapore, we know it did not create divisions. If anything, it revealed them.
“All that has transpired over the last few days is a reaffirming reminder of the work that is to come for us all. Kindness and compassion is the starting point. We would like to end by again sincerely apologising for the hurt caused. We are sorry.”