SINGAPORE - Local YouTube star Preeti Nair and her brother, rapper Subhas Nair, on Friday (Aug 2) issued a statement ostensibly apologising "for any hurt that was unintentionally caused" by the online rap video they created that was alleged to contain offensive content.
The statement, posted on the siblings' Instagram and Facebook pages, closely followed the wording of a statement issued by Havas Worldwide, a creative agency that was hired for the advertisement, as well as The Celebrity Agency (TCA), Mediacorp's celebrity management arm.
The pair said in their statement on Friday: "The message behind this music video is that opportunities must be for everyone.
"For that reason, K. Muthusamy, well-known for his ability to address privilege, power and censorship in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of this music video.
"He speaks to characters from all walks of life in Singapore, bringing home the point that only some people truly pay.
"We're sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused. Behind this music video is an initiative to provide greater consciousness to consumers, corporations, and the many faces of Singapore."
The statement by Havas and TCA on July 28 had said: "The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone.
"For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign. He appears as characters from different walks of life in Singapore, bringing home the point that everyone can e-pay.
"We're sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused. Behind the ad is an initiative to provide greater convenience to consumers, merchants and small food businesses."
Some netizens noticed the similarity, including Facebook user Terence Heng who commented: "I see what you guys did there!"
The online rap video, titled K. Muthusamy, was made by Ms Preeti, better known as Preetipls, and her brother in response to a recent advertisement by e-payments website epaysg.com.
The ad had featured Mediacorp celebrity Dennis Chew in "brownface" portraying characters such as a woman in a tudung and a man with visibly darker skin.
The rap video became the subject of a police investigation after a police report was lodged against it.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority said it issued a notice to the publishers to take down the video, and they complied. The 2min 50sec video was posted on Facebook and YouTube on Monday, but was taken down from the social media platforms on Tuesday afternoon.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters on Tuesday that the rap video "crosses the line" and is not acceptable.
He 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 Straits Times has contacted Ms Preeti for comment.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.