The infamous rapper Namewee was in the spotlight again recently over his song “Oh My God”.
Born Wee Meng Chee, he is a Malaysian Chinese rapper who shot to fame a few years ago with his controversial parody of the national anthem, “Negaraku”, which was banned on the ground that it was seditious.
The rapper defended his version of “Negaraku” by saying that it cast a spotlight on social ills such as corruption, inefficiency in the public services and biased government policies. Though investigated under the Sedition Act at the time, Namewee was overseas and out of jurisdiction. Just as he is now. History is repeating itself and he is currently under investigation for his song,“Oh My God”, which is alleged to be an insult to Islam.
According to Namewee, the unedited version of the song was released on the internet by an unauthorised hacker, and that it was never his intention to insult any race or religion.
In fact, he said, the reverse was true : that he was actually trying to promote inter faith understanding and peace through music. He also stated that he had got permission to film inside the mosque in question in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, together with the other places of worship, such as Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist temples, and a Catholic church.
He went on to give his version of what happened in a seven minute clip entitled “Pengganas” (Terrorist) on You Tube.
Everything seems to be a sin in Malaysia these days. Even “Pokemon Go” is “haram” to some quarters. Our cherished and talented singer, Yuna, was also not spared, and was referred to as “perempuan sampah” just because she gave a harmless hug to the rapper Usher.
Some so called entertainers then came up with a parody which depicted Usher in a racist manner.
Whilst this was subsequently withdrawn after both a national and international outcry, the damage was already done. Again and again, Malaysians are in the international news for all the wrong reasons.
We are showing the world how quick we are to condemn and judge others; how ready we are to don our morality police uniforms and chant “sin, sin, sin!”.
We are ever ready to condemn people to hell or elevate them to heaven depending on our personal philosophies.
Namewee stressed that he had no intention to insult any religion or race. He merely intended to bring people of different faiths together through music. And what is wrong with that, and having a bit of fun in the process, one may ask? Freedom of expression must be encouraged if we desire our artists to thrive.
There is a need for discussion of important social issues through song and dance, parody and satire. This is vital to build a mature democracy.
It will enable us to laugh at ourselves and not take everything so seriously. And that is one of the reasons Namewee is so popular. He pokes fun at serious issues like religion and race which have been blown up disproportionately by those in power to oppress; suppress, and unjustly indoctrinate the public.
As the famous poet Tennyson said so many years ago : “Sin is too stupid to see beyond itself”. How true.
Let’s stop this unnecessary overemphasis on allegations of “sin” or “Insulting religion” and concentrate on the more important issues of the nation.