CNA drops local rapper from show over controversial video

Local rapper Subhas Nair was removed from CNA's upcoming music documentary.
Local rapper Subhas Nair was removed from CNA's upcoming music documentary.PHOTO: SUBHASMUSIC/INSTAGRAM

News broadcaster CNA has removed local rapper Subhas Nair from its upcoming music documentary over his appearance in a controversial rap video on racism.

CNA yesterday said it has also taken down articles on his involvement in the programme called Roar, which would have featured Mr Nair and three other Singapore musicians.

The move comes a day after police said they were investigating the online video, featuring Mr Nair and his sister, YouTuber Preeti Nair, also known as Preetipls.

Meanwhile, the police confirmed that a report had been made against a "brownface" advertisement that led the Nair siblings to produce their rap video. Facebook user Nabil Khairul Anwar posted a picture of the police report he had filed on his page.

The siblings' rap video had been criticised by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Tuesday as having crossed the line.

CNA, in removing Mr Nair from the documentary, noted that the video used four-letter words and vulgarities to insult Chinese Singaporeans.

CNA also cited Mr Shanmugam's comments that the clip was meant to make minorities angry with Chinese Singaporeans.

"CNA strongly objects to all such offensive content which threatens racial harmony and will not associate with individuals who intentionally create such content," it said.

 
 
 

The video, uploaded on social media on Monday, was taken down a day later by the siblings. But others reuploaded the clip on social media.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said yesterday that it has asked individuals and Internet platforms to remove the video.

Together with the police, the IMDA advised people to refrain from circulating the rap video.

The "brownface" ad was made to promote e-payment website epaysg.com. It featured Mediacorp actor and DJ Dennis Chew portraying characters such as a woman in a tudung and a man with visibly darker skin. Broadcaster Mediacorp has apologised for the ad, and the epaysg.com website has removed it.

MPs weighed in yesterday on Facebook, with Mr Ang Wei Neng urging people to voice their concerns through appropriate channels, and saying that "the agencies involved will make it right".

Mr Melvin Yong said the ad was "insensitive and distasteful", and the video "vulgar and offensive". He added: "Surely it is not right to use vulgarity to insult another race."

He warned that a "small spark can set off a very big fire", and said such divisive content must not be allowed to spread.

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh said the issue raises questions, including that of how people could openly highlight matters that some may deem racially insensitive for public discussion, without fearing recrimination.

He asked what would be done the next time a "brownface" ad appears, since criticism and awareness of the ad seemed to be more pronounced after action was taken against the video-makers.

"Addressing racism requires constant attention and an acknowledgement that strengthening the Singapore core is a collective responsibility, with every race an important part of the conversation," Mr Singh said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'CNA drops local rapper from show over controversial video'. Print Edition | Subscribe