Malaysia: Student faces imprisonment for “seditious” rap

13 August 2007
Malaysian authorities to act against student over socalled ‘seditious’ national anthem rap on YouTube

By Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Bangkok

(SEAPA/IFEX) – Malaysian authorities are looking to come down hard on a student in Taiwan who has allegedly insulted nationalistic and Islamic sensibilities in a music video uploaded on the popular video-sharing website YouTube.

In the clip, the 24-year-old Malaysian student at Taiwan’s Ming Chuan University, Wee Meng Chee, going by the name Namewee, turned the Malaysian national anthem, ‘Negaraku’ (‘My Country’), into an angst-ridden rap, sung in a mix of Mandarin and Malay. Touching on police corruption, the unequal economic opportunities in the country, the dominance of Islam as the religion of the federation, government red tape, the Chinese diaspora and other realities affecting the minority non-Muslim Chinese, it ends with a note: “Please don’t sue me – I have no money.”

The video appeared on in mid-July 2007 and copies of it have been made on the site. Within a month the video clip had been watched more than one million times.

The ministries of internal security, education and culture, as well as the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), have variously threatened to charge the student with the National Anthem Act and the Sedition Act. However, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mohd Najib Abdul Aziz was reported by the national news agency Bernama to have said that the person could not be prosecuted as the video was made abroad.

The 1948 Sedition Act, a legacy of the British colonialists, broadly criminalises “seditious” speech with up to three years imprisonment or a 5,000 ringgit fine (approximately 1,454 US dollars), or both. The 1968 National Anthem Act punishes those who disrespect the anthem with a maximum fine of 100 ringgit (approximately 29 US dollars) or a maximum prison term of one month.

CD versions of the song are reportedly being sold secretly in Kuala Lumpur bazars and night markets.

For further information, contact Roby Alampay, Executive Director, or Chuah Siew Eng, Alerts Coordinator, at SEAPA, 538/1 Samsen Road, Dusit, Bangkok, 10300 Thailand, tel: +662 243 5579, fax: +662 244 8749, e-mail: sieweng[AT], seapa[AT], Internet:

The information contained in this update is the sole responsibility of SEAPA. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit SEAPA.




Video on YouTube on YouTube  – 10 August 2007:
Comment by Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar
 (1:18 minutes tv news report in ‘7edition’)

Namewee’s music video on YouTube – 15 July 2007:

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