SINGAPORE: Rapper Subhas Nair was sentenced to six weeks in jail on Sept 5 (Tuesday) for attempting to promote feelings of ill-will between different groups on grounds of religion and race.
Nair, now 31, was charged with four counts of the above offence on Nov 1, 2021, but first caught the attention of authorities in 2019 when he and fellow artist Preeti Nair, also known as Preetipls, released a video in response to an ad showing a Chinese actor, Dennis Chew, in brownface to portray people of different races, including a Malay woman and an Indian man.
As to why they made the video, “We wanted to end brownface in Singapore,” Nair is quoted in TIME as saying. “The goal is that no one should ever have to see this again.”
In August 2019, police gave the two artists a 24-month conditional warning for the video. However, due to additional offences in 2020 and 2021 wherein he compared how races and religions are treated in Singapore, the rapper was found to have breached the conditional warning.
Mr Suang Wijaya, Nair’s lawyer, told the court on Sept 5 that the rapper maintains his innocence and intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence.
The lawyer asked for 20 days’ jail time for Nair, while Deputy Public Prosecutors Suhas Malhotra and Jordon Li asked for a six-week jail sentence.
CNA reported that District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan agreed that the rapper’s offences “take on a greater significance in the age of social media and the internet” due to the potentially big reach and high speed with which the content can be spread, and added that this type of content can be harmful to society in general.
The judge said, “Sowing racial and or religious discontent by alleging that law enforcement in Singapore discriminates based on race or religious grounds is just as serious as the casting of racial slurs.”