Two Indian rappers in Singapore are being probed by the country's police over a video condemning a government-linked advertisement which featured a Chinese actor blackening his face to appear Indian.

The video, titled "K Muthusamy", by sibings Subhas and Preeti Nair, who goes by the stage name Preetipls, has been removed from social media at the time this article was written.

The almost three-minute-long expletive-laden video was a spoof of the new single "F**k It Up" by US pop stars Iggy Azalea and Kash Doll.

In it, Preeti and her brother mock "Chinese people for f**king it up" over the brownface advertisement, in which actor Dennis Chew, from national broadcaster Mediacorp, darkened his skin to appear Indian.

The advertisement, for a new government-backed campaign for cashless payments called E-Pay, also features Chew appearing as a Malay woman in a headscarf, a Chinese man and a Chinese woman. Each character was shown holding a plate of food paid for electronically.

Mediacorp has since apologised over "any hurt that was unintentionally caused" by the advertisement and said the message it wanted to convey was that the e-payment platform is for everyone. It is unclear whether the advertisement has been pulled down completely.

Following the controversy, Channel News Asia (CNA) has cut Subhas from its upcoming musical documentary called Roar, which was to be broadcast in conjunction with Singapore's National Day.

CNA has also taken down the articles related to his involvement in this programme.

In a statement, CNA said it will not associate with individuals who "intentionally threaten racial harmony."

Law Minister condemns video

In condemning the "K Muthusamy" video, Singapore's law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam said he had asked the police to launch investigation into the video, which he claimed "had crossed the line".

"If we allow this then we have to allow other videos... what do you think will happen to our racial harmony (and) social fabric, how will people look at each other?

"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 minister was quoted telling local media.

The government is not apologetic for its stance on race-related issues in order to preserve racial harmony, he added.

Singaporean writer Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, on Facebook, called the police probe of the spoof video as an attack on the Indian whistle blowers rather than addressing Singapore's Chinese-majority racism.
He questioned how poking fun at Chinese "racists", who were specifically targeted in the video, can be misconstrued as an attack on an entire race.

"So, here we go again. Singapore’s minorities experience racism, this time backed by the state. And when we speak up about it, we get called out," he wrote.

More dialogue, and not crackdown, is needed to address the race-related problems that exist in the nation, said Sudhir.

Singaporean writer, poet and playwright Alfian Sa'at voiced similar concerns on his Facebook page, saying he felt "unsafe" being a minority in Singapore.
In his post, he said those perpetuating racism often get off with a slap on the wrist, while those who call it out have action taken against them.

"I'm really tired of witnessing this ugly dysfunction where a majority keeps on insisting that they should get to define what is funny, and what is offensive, and that their views should become the norm. Of course majoritarianism exists in Singapore but this particular form is one of the most wicked.

"Because what is 'funny', or 'scary', are minorities. We become the figure of fun, the brunt of jokes, the bogeymen, the 'don't be like that', the low-IQ long-drawl Malay accent, the head-bobbing Indian accent, the image of the drug addict, the drunkard, the prata-man President, the fake-Malay President, Ahmad the chauffeur, Aminah the cleaner, Apunehneh the whoever he or she is."

The Malays in Singapore, including himself, were "tired" of being subjected to such treatment, he wrote.

Source: South China Morning Post, Mothership SG
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