YouTuber Preetipls and brother Subhas, 'brownface' advert creators rapped

Ms Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas have apologised for the controversial video in response to a "brownface" ad.
Ms Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas have apologised for the controversial video in response to a "brownface" ad.

Conditional warning to siblings by police; IMDA issues stern reminder to ad team on sensitivities

Local YouTuber Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas were yesterday given a conditional warning by police over their controversial online rap video made in response to a "brownface" advertisement.

A stern reminder has also been issued by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to those involved in the ad on the importance of paying attention to racial and religious sensitivities.

The police said that they had considered the circumstances of the case and consulted the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) before giving the siblings a 24-month conditional warning. This means they must remain crime-free for 24 months. Otherwise, they may be dealt with in court for both their original and new offences.

A police report was made on July 29 after the video was posted on Facebook and YouTube that day.

"The video was in clear contravention of the Penal Code," the police said in their statement. "If this video were to be allowed, then similar expletive-laden, insulting, offensive videos, targeted at all communities will have to be allowed."

The police added that such paths inevitably lead to more racism, more racial tensions and, eventually, violence. "It will be the minority communities, specifically the Malay and Indian communities, who could suffer more in such a situation.

"Singapore has taken a clear approach, to say no to offensive speech, targeted at race and religion," they added.

Ms Nair, who is better known as Preetipls, and Mr Nair, a rapper, subsequently issued public apologies for their actions.

Their video was made in response to an advertisement featuring Mediacorp actor and DJ Dennis Chew. The actor had portrayed four characters - a Chinese man and a woman, a Malay woman wearing a tudung and, with his skin darkened, an Indian man. The ad was created for, an e-payments website.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the Nair siblings had every right to discuss racism, but the manner in which they did so was wrong.

The police said they also received reports on the e-pay ad, which had been referenced in the rap video.

The AGC had advised that there was no criminal offence disclosed in respect of the ad, the police said, adding that no further action would be taken.

IMDA said yesterday that while the ad did not breach the Internet Code of Practice, it was done in poor taste and had caused offence to minority communities.

All advertising companies and other content producers are expected to be similarly mindful of these sensitivities, it added.

Ms Nair said on her social media accounts yesterday evening that "the case is closed".

"Don't get me wrong - I understand exactly why people got offended with the (music video), so I am not here to justify it, I am here to say thank you and let's hope we don't see any more painted faces and 'offensive rap videos' ever again," she wrote.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline 'Rap video duo, 'brownface' advert creators rapped'. Print Edition | Subscribe