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SINGAPORE — The rap video by social media personality Preeti Nair was “disturbing” and “unacceptable”, and “stern action” should be taken, said Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs, on Tuesday (30 July).
Amrin was referring to the video posted on Facebook on Monday featuring Preeti – who goes by the moniker Preetipls – and her brother Subhas. In it, the siblings 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 video is peppered with expletives and vulgar gestures, and the Nairs imply in it that the advertisement is evidence of there being a racial bias against minorities here.
In a post on his Facebook page, Amrin said, “It’s one thing to be upset over the ‘brownface’ ad for e-pay - yes, insensitive ad. But it’s totally another, in fact, very wrong to rub salt and respond with such disgrace and spite.”
The Sembawang GRC MP also said it is “not fair game” to insult along racial or religious lines.
A police report has been lodged over the video. 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,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Amrin, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health, attached in his post a media report on the response by Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam to the video. Shanmugam had said the video “crossed the line” by insulting Chinese people.
Calling on people to condemn the video, Amrin said, “I won’t keep quiet if others caricaturise the Prophet in the name of art or free speech, similarly I am not keeping quiet now when rap is used to attach derogatory labels, hurl vulgar words and gestures at Chinese Singaporeans.”
Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad also commented on the controversy over the video, saying it was “totally offensive and uncalled for” and that racial harmony continues to be a “work in progress”.
Zaqy said on his Facebook page, “There is a Malay proverb that goes ‘Bahasa menunjukkan bangsa’, which highlights that the language used reflects one’s appreciation of its culture. We must always strive to embody this saying, to be respectful with one another, so as to safeguard our racial harmony and unity as one people.”