Allowing racist rap video online may spread it further, says K Shanmugam

K.Shanmugam Reuters

At the CNM Leaders Summit on Thursday, August 22, Singapore's Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, in view of the recent video removal incident of YouTuber Preetipls and her brother, said that if a racist rap video was allowed to remain online, it could normalise offensive speech and attacks against other races could become mainstream.

Speaking at the summit which was organized by the National University of Singapore's Department of Communications and New Media Shanmugam explained why government removed a rap video by the YouTuber Preeti Nair and her brother, Subhas Nair.

Preeti Nair and her brother, Subhas Nair
Preeti Nair and Subhas Nair Instagram grab

The siblings made a rap video to point out racism in a controversial advertisement that featured a Chinese actor, Dennis Chew in "brownface" to portray an Indian man. He was also dressed in other pictures of the ad as a Malay woman and a Chinese woman.

E-pay ad
E-pay ad Twitter grab

However, later it was revealed that the agenda of the ad was to show that the e-payment is for everyone. But the video uploaded by the duo included several vulgar languages targeting the Chinese community.

In addition, Shanmugam said that "the reason why we drew a line in the sand is that one video can lead to more videos," and it can lead to making videos on different races which will worsen the condition instead of making it better.

He said that none of these is to say that people cannot talk about race but it should take place in a variety of settings among people. It should be noted that the Nair siblings were given only conditional warning for the rap video and as per the police, it was in clear contravention of the Penal Code.

Shanmugam emphasised that if the government without applying Section 298 of the Penal Code orders that people cannot do this, then Chinese people will also do the same and said, "In any society, 95 percent of the people would not do these things and attack other races. But if you allow the five percent to do it, over time it would become 10 percent to 15 percent."

"Once it becomes normalised, it's perfectly normal to talk about each other along these lines," he said. In addition, he also brought the example of Germany along with other countries which allowed offensive speech to become mainstream.

"The free speech, which insofar includes hate speech and offensive speech, because it has no boundaries, has led to this situation even in Germany, let alone France, UK and the US," Shanmugam added.

During the speech, he also showed the result of the poll conducted by government feedback portal REACH that said many Singaporeans were aware of the controversy, while only one in 10 people have watched the controversial video. On the other hand, 76 percent of the 1,155 respondents, supported the government's move to remove such videos online.

Related topics : Singapore crime