Friday, August 10, 2007

Rap video of Malaysian anthem causes outcry

09 Aug 2007, ST

Malaysian student who posts YouTube clip in Taiwan faces sedition probe

KUALA LUMPUR - A CHINESE Malaysian student is under investigation for alleged sedition for posting a racially provocative rap video of the national anthem on YouTube that has enraged many ethnic Malays, officials said yesterday.

'His action is unacceptable. By distorting the national anthem and using (vulgar) words, he has shown disrespect for the country,' said Deputy Internal Security Minister Fu Ah Kiow.

He called the video an abuse of Internet freedom.

The Mandarin rap video was posted last month by the 24-year-old man who goes by the moniker 'Namewee'.

It triggered a flood of abusive responses from Malays, and expressions of support from ethnic Chinese in Malaysia.

The divergent responses expose the divisions in the multiethnic country, where minority Chinese and Indians have long resented the job and education privileges enjoyed by the majority Muslim Malays under an affirmative action programme.

Another security official, Datuk Johari Baharum, was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times that the police would study the six-minute clip to see if Namewee - who is studying in Taiwan - violated the Sedition Act, which carries a maximum prison term of three years.

Namewee blended the national anthem Negaraku with a rap song that bemoaned discrimination faced by the Chinese in Malaysia.

He poked fun at Muslim morning prayers broadcast from mosques, corrupt policemen and laid-back civil servants, who are mostly Malays.

Some of the lyrics implied that the Malays are arrogant and Chinese are hardworking.

Such direct lampooning of a race in public is rare in Malaysia, where the three main ethnic groups have lived peacefully together since racial riots on May 13, 1969 left at least 200 people dead.

'Don't repeat 13th May!' said one of the 600 responses posted on YouTube.

'Disgraceful to Malaysian Chinese...this guy is so lucky to be born as Malaysian,' said another response.

Namewee's face can be clearly seen and he sings with the Malaysian flag as a backdrop in the video, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the lyrics were not particularly offensive, but Namewee had insulted the national anthem.

'He is actually trying to reflect on what he feels about the situation in the country. As a young person, he has his ideals, but he should protect the country's honour,' the deputy minister said.


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