Malaysian broadcaster RTM takes Despacito off the air amid concern over lyrical content

Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee in a screenshot from the Despacito music video.
Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee in a screenshot from the Despacito music video.PHOTO: YOUTUBE / LUISFONSIVEVO

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian broadcaster Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will cease broadcasting the global hit song, Despacito, on all its radio and television stations immediately, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, amid concern over the content of its lyrics.

Despacito is a single by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee that features Justin Bieber. The song has reached the top position in weekly charts all over the world, including in Malaysia.

The move comes after several quarters called for the broadcast of the song to be stopped, alleging its lyrics are obscene.

"RTM is ceasing the broadcast of the song on its radio and TV stations with immediate effect," he said to Bernama after attending the ministry's Hari Raya open house here Wednesday (July 19). 

He said the RTM evaluation panel decided to withdraw the approval to play the song after a re-evaluation. 

The women's wing of Malaysia's Islamist party Parti Amanah Negara earlier Wednesday called on radio stations in the country to stop playing the Spanish hit song, because of its supposedly sexually explicit lyrics, The Star reported. 

Angkatan Wanita Amanah Nasional's Arts and Culture chairperson Atriza Umar said that she viewed it seriously as many young children were singing the song without actually understanding its lyrics.

She said that local Malay radio stations were also playing the song resulting in it becoming a phenomenon that was hard to stop.

She hoped that Despacito and other songs that have sexual and violent lyrics not suited to Eastern culture and Islam could be banned from being played.

"I regret that these problematic songs are not censored by the ministries responsible," she said in a statement on Wednesday (July 19).

She also praised the artistes and individuals who have taken the initiative to alter the lyrics of the song to make them more decent despite it going against copyright rules.

Atriza also hoped that local artistes could work together to provide entertainment that was morally upright and yet had high commercial value.

"We respect the right to be entertained but there should be clearer guidelines so that the entertainment does not spoil people but make them better," she said.

Amanah is a splinter party of the other opposition Islamist party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia. It is one of the members of the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance.

According to the Billboard music chart, Despacito has led the Billboard Hot 100 chart (dated July 29) for a landmark 10th week.

On Wednesday, Billboard said that since its release in January, the song has garnered more than 4.6 billion streams across all platforms, setting a record for the most-streamed song of all time.