Rapper Namewee being investigated for his film Babi

Rapper-director Namewee (above) is being investigated after a police report was lodged against him over his film Babi, which allegedly contained racist elements that tarnished Malaysia’s image. PHOTO: NAMEWEE/FACEBOOK

Controversial rapper-director Namewee has returned to Malaysia and will surrender to the police after completing his seven days of quarantine.

He is being investigated after a police report was lodged against him by Persatuan Seniman Malaysia, an association of Malaysian artistes, last December over his 2020 film Babi, which allegedly contained racist elements that tarnished Malaysia's image.

The movie, about racial tension and hate speech, has received four nominations, including at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards and Berlin International Film Festival.

Another report was lodged by Perikatan Nasional Youth member Mohammad Azwan Azmi about the film poster, as he claimed it contained racially sensitive words.

Upon arrival on Sunday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Taiwan, where he had been based for the past seven months, Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, was flagged by the authorities and taken to the airport's police station.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, the 37-year-old said during the two hours he was there, many clamoured to take photos with him, wanting to know when he will be releasing new songs and where they could watch Babi, which has not been released in Malaysia.

No stranger to controversy, Wee shot to notoriety in 2007 with a parody of the Malaysia national anthem, Negaraku, which led to an investigation by the police and a ban on mainstream media.

In August 2016, he was arrested for filming a music video, Oh My God, with performers dressed as religious leaders, which allegedly insulted the dignity of Islam.

In another post on Tuesday, he wrote in Chinese: "A lot of people have asked me why I was so stupid to return and surrender. This is my home and my parents are waiting for me. I've done nothing wrong, why should I run?"

He added: "If something really happens to me, I want everyone to boldly follow the path of democracy and freedom.

"As long as all races are united and use the power of the masses to combat corruption and racial policies, the country will progress, democracy will raise its head and people will obtain freedom. Malaysia boleh."

He followed up with another post the next day, referring to the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur located in Bukit Aman: "Be patient... Namewee must be quarantined first before surrendering. If not, later I go to Bukit Aman and all the police will run away."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2021, with the headline Rapper Namewee being investigated for his film Babi. Subscribe