Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng has drawn backlash for suggesting that the authorities should jail and cane Preetipls and Subhas Nair for the controversial rap video they released.
Days before Singapore celebrates its 54th national day, a discussion on racial relations gripped the nation after a “racially insensitive” advertisement campaign began trending online. The ad for government-led initiative E-Pay featured Chinese actor Dennis Chew dressed as a Chinese man, Chinese woman, Malay woman and an Indian man.
Responding to the video, Preeti Nair – a Singaporean Indian comedian and YouTuber who goes by the name ‘Preetipls’ – released an expletive-laden rap video, calling out the E-pay advertisement featuring the Chinese actor wearing dark makeup or “brownface” to portray an Indian man.
Preeti and her brother, Subhas Nair, not only criticised the advertisement but went on to rail against the Chinese in Singapore and talked about casual racism against minorities in Singapore.
The video drew backlash from the Government and has since been banned in Singapore. The police are investigating the video and the creators of the video, while Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said, “When you use four-letter words, vulgar language, attack another race, put it out in public, we have to draw the line and say not acceptable.”
The controversy has largely divided Singaporeans. Some believe that the video was offensive while others felt that Preeti and Subhas are entitled to their opinion.
In the midst of the controversy surrounding the E-pay advertisement and the rap video, National University of Singapore (NUS) Associate Professor Ben Leong came out to say that the Government should use the Sedition Act against the Nair siblings.
Prof Leong is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at NUS’ School of Computing and the Director of Experimental Systems and Technology Laboratory at the Ministry of Education.
In a comment on social media, he wrote: “I think it’s time to take the Sedition Act out of the store room for some dusting. Every now and then must take out and sun.”
Piggybacking on Prof Leong’s comment, Calvin Cheng went so far as to say that Preeti and Subhas should be jailed and caned. He wrote: “yes. Jail and cane them.”
The majority of netizens responding to the comments written by Prof Leong and Mr Cheng felt that both men are over-reacting to the situation: