YouTuber Preetipls and brother issue fresh apology, a day after MHA criticism over 'insincere' statement

YouTuber Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas offered a fresh apology for their controversial rap video in a lengthy statement on their social media accounts on Aug 3, 2019. PHOTOS: ST FILE, SUBHASMUSIC/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - A day after they were criticised for their "mock, insincere apology", local YouTuber Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas offered a fresh apology for their controversial rap video.

In a lengthy statement on their social media accounts on Saturday (Aug 3), the Nair siblings said: "We have apologised but we understand that more needs to be said and done."

They added: "We unconditionally apologise for the tone, aggression, vulgarities and gestures used in the K. Muthusamy music video."

The siblings had issued a statement on Friday ostensibly apologising "for any hurt that was unintentionally caused" by the video they created earlier this week in response to a "brownface" advertisement featuring Chinese actor Dennis Chew.

To call out the racism, the Nair siblings titled the rap K. Muthusamy - one of the characters Mr Chew portrayed in the ad, a man with visibly darker skin.

Both the ad and rap video have whipped up a furore over racial sensitivity in Singapore and were criticised by politicians as being offensive and unacceptable. Police reports have been made against both.

Their "apology" on Friday, however, closely followed the wording of a statement issued by the creative agency and management company involved in producing the e-payment ad.

On the same day it was posted online, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) slammed the statement, saying it contained a "mock, insincere apology".

"This spoofing is a pretence of an apology, and in fact shows contempt for the many Singaporeans who have expressed concern at their blatantly racist rap video," the ministry said.

On Saturday, the siblings noted that people were offended and they sincerely apologised for it.

"If we could do it over again, we would change the manner in which we approached this issue, and would have worded our thoughts better," they said, claiming they "only wanted to spark a conversation" on the portrayal of minority races in Singapore.

The statement added that while the country should have space for people to express themselves, it is also the responsibility of artists to carry their message in a way that honours the issue and does not hurt people.

"We want to continue to participate in the ongoing national discussion, but to do so responsibly," they said.

Separately, in the statement, Ms Nair also addressed public discussions about past videos that she created, particularly a Chinese New Year video in 2018.

MHA had cited the video to show that it was not the first time the siblings have expressed racist sentiments.

The ministry's statement said: "About a year ago, Ms Nair published a video where she acted as a Chinese and mocked the Chinese community's practices, culture and traditions. She portrayed Chinese as money-minded gamblers."

Ms Nair insisted on Saturday the content of her social media channels have been about parodies, satire, sarcasm and discussing social causes, including racial harmony, in unconventional ways.

She said: " If you watch the video in its entirety, you would understand the jokes made and the self-deprecating, ridiculousness that is Preetipls'. If you take any one of my jokes out of context, the intended outcome will never be achieved."

Mr Nair also sought to defend his song Utopia, which was called out by MHA for saying that Singapore condones systemic discrimination.

He said that his song was about justice in Singapore for all migrant workers and it was a work "I unequivocally stand behind".

He added: "My work, out of context, can be imbued with any interpretation and alleged intention.

"My only wish is to bring to light the stories on the sidelines and that are invisible in the Singapore narrative."

The siblings concluded their statement by apologising yet again for the hurt they caused, and urged members of the public to refrain from circulating the video as requested by the police.

They also thanked those who participated in a civil discussion on the issue, describing it as "a moment of growth for us all".

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