Malaysia show apologises for 'black-face' Usher parody

Malaysian singer Yuna (left) and US R&B star Usher.
Malaysian singer Yuna (left) and US R&B star Usher. PHOTOS: BILLBOARD, AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A Malaysian television show has apologised following an outcry on social media over a comedy skit featuring an actor in "black-face" make-up pretending to be US R&B star Usher.

The skit was a parody of a recent performance by popular Malaysian singer Yuna and Usher in the US in June, where they had hugged, sparking criticism in conservative Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Malaysia bars hugging, kissing and foul language by performers on stage. It also prohibits women from baring skin between their shoulders and knees.

In the spoof, a woman acting as Yuna bows in front of the comedian in "black-face" make-up posing as Usher, instead of hugging him.

The video, which was shared widely on social media, was broadcast on local Malay entertainment programme MeleTOP on Tuesday (Aug 2).

The show tweeted late Wednesday: "We would like to sincerely apologise to Yuna & Usher for our recent parody video, which was poor judgement on our part.

"We have removed the video and would like to request everyone not to share it."

Many on social media condemned the racism in the parody.

"Yuna made Malaysia proud all around the world and this is how you show her your appreciation," a Twitter user wrote.

Yuna is a Muslim ethnic Malay whose soulful singing has made waves in the US.

She recently released a new single featuring Usher called Crush. The R&B star also appears in her music video for that hit track.

Yuna - who swaddles her hair in a chic version of the Muslim hijab head covering worn by many Malay women - has come far since uploading her first song on MySpace in 2006.

But she and other Malaysian female entertainers sometimes face criticism from religious authorities and online trolls over what they wear and what they do.