Malaysia: Rapper threatened with censorship and arrest

10 August 2016

Police plan to arrest rapper Namewee (real name Wee Meng Chee) when he returns to Malaysia over his recent video for a song he performed with Taiwanese hip hop trio Jiu Yi Yi (Nine One One) called ‘Oh My God’, which has allegedly insulted religion, reported Free Malaysia Today on 2 August 2016.

Penang police chief Abdul Ghafar Rajab said that Namewee and three foreigners – which he didn’t identify though all people involved in the video have been identified by police – were wanted in connection to the video.

George Town police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid added that the investigation fell under penal code section 295: “injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class”. He also confirmed that Namewee was currently abroad and that his location could not be divulged due to the pending investigation, but that police “will arrest him as soon as he returns to Malaysia”.

‘Oh My God’ was uploaded to YouTube in late July 2016 and taken down days later after complaints started coming in to police. By the end of the month, 20 non-governmental organisations filed reports claiming the video insults Islam, reported Malaysian news site Hype on 2 August 2016.

Controversial religious content
Directed and produced by the rapper, the video features religious imagery and sounds from major faiths present in the country, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, as well as four characters that represent these religions as they holiday together in Penang on the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia. The video also features scenes filmed inside and near various places of worship, including a scene where people are dancing inside a mosque.

The mosque chairperson filed a report to police on 27 July 2016 alleging the musicians were “behaving indecently” while at the mosque, reported Free Malaysia Toyay on 4 August 2016.

Namewee issued a video response posted on his YouTube channel on 2 August 2016 explaining that all persons in charge of the religious buildings gave them permission to film and that they were respectful of worshippers. He further stated that the purpose of the video was to “promote religious harmony” and that he realized the video might be banned, but would cooperate with police in their investigations.

We just want to promote harmony within all religions. Many countries are having religious issues which caused a lot of terrorist attacks. Some countries even have conflicts which continued without reconciliation for centuries. So we combined the four main religions, we travel together happily and we’re having great times together. It’s a rare picture. Let’s open our hearts because a truly great religion will accept, understand, and be tolerant of others in all aspects.

The rapper also claims that the uploaded video was an unedited version stolen and put online by a hacker, and that he and the Taiwanese movie company that own the video were in the process of removing “sensitive scenes”.

This is not the first time Namewee has been at the centre of controversy. In October 2015 the rapper posted a statement on his Facebook page that he had been forced by his Hong Kong concert promoter to sign a statement that he would not “make any comments or say anything about the Malaysian government or Chinese government” during his concert.

» Namewee’s video response posted on 2 August 2016:

Photo from the video on YouTube


» The Star Online – 4 August 2016:
Namewee: Stop alleging that I insulted Islam in video

» Free Malaysia Today – 4 August 2016:
Namewee: Unedited “Oh My God” video uploaded by hacker

» Hype – 2 August 2016:
Namewee: Police to arrest controversial rapper over “Oh My God” music video

» Free Malaysia Today – 2 August 2016:
Police to arrest Namewee over rap music video

» Asia One – 25 July 2016:
Malaysian rapper Namewee’s new music video mocks religion

More from Freemuse

» 26 October 2015: China: Malaysian rapper told to make no controversial statements

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