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Rapper Subhas Nair jailed 6 weeks for promoting ill will among racial, religious groups

Singaporean was found guilty on four charges for online posts on races and religions, plans to appeal conviction and sentence

Subhas Nair entering State Courts with his sister Preeti Nair on 1 November 2021
Subhas Nair entering State Courts with his sister Preeti Nair on 1 November 2021. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Nick Tan)

SINGAPORE — Singaporean rapper Subhas Nair was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Tuesday (5 September) for attempting to incite ill will among different racial and religious groups through his online posts.

The 31-year-old, whose full name is Subhas Govin Prabhakar Nair, was found guilty in July on four counts related to statements he made between July 2019 and March 2021, in which he compared races and religions.

According to CNA, Nair's lawyer Suang Wijaya said he plans to appeal both his conviction and sentence.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan concurred with the prosecution's argument that the need for deterrence in such cases is amplified in the age of social media and the internet.

He emphasised that such messages can quickly reach a larger audience through these platforms and cause harm not only to specific racial or religious groups but also to society at large.

The four charges against Nair

One of the four charges that led to Nair's conviction stemmed from a YouTube video in which he and his sister, known as Preetipls, performed a song containing lyrics which denigrated another race.

Nair had received a two-year conditional warning from the police for this incident, but continued to make inflammatory comments on social media.

In anoth instance, Nair commented on a viral video by two Christians who linked the gay pride movement to Satan. He wrote, "If two Malay Muslims made a video promoting Islam and saying the kinds of hateful things these Chinese Christians said, ISD (Internal Security Department) would have been at the door before they even hit 'upload'."

He also made an Instagram post referencing a media reported linked to a Chan Jia Xing, who was involved in the death of a person at Orchard Towers, and had been given a reduced charge of consorting with a person who had a weapon after being charged with murder.

Severity of his actions

During the sentencing, deputy public prosecutors Suhas Malhotra and Jordon Li requested a six-week jail term, while Nair's lawyer Wijaya requested a 20-day jail term.

District Judge Shaiffudin noted that past legal precedents typically result in jail terms for such cases and disagreed with the defence's argument that Nair's actions were less serious because he did not use racial slurs or derogatory language.

CNA reported that the judge emphasised that sowing racial or religious discord by alleging discrimination by law enforcement in Singapore based on race or religion is just as serious as using racial slurs.

He also warned that such actions could erode trust in law enforcement agencies and lead to a breakdown of law and order.

Nair plans to seek bail pending his appeal, and a few of his supporters, including his sister, attended the hearing.

The penalties for attempting to promote hatred between racial or religious groups in Singapore can include a jail term of up to three years and/or a fine.

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