Lest you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a brief context: E-Pay is an initiative to convert hawker centres into high-tech makan places whereby people can make payment for their cai png with their phones.
Because Smart Nation, yo.
Currently, many hawker centres and canteens have implemented it, and you’d know if a stall is under the initiative by looking for this sticker:
Neat, except that they’d also need to tell consumers like us about this.
And so, this appeared.
It seems like e-payment isn’t just convenient but affordable, too: for the price of one person, they get four characters.
Aunty Lucy Dennis Chew, the celebrity / radio DJ who’s 45 but looks 25, became the face for four races, and that was when people got offended.
Netizens were triggered as it was considered “brownface”, whereby a minority race is being portrayed by a majority race by “darkening” his skin to impersonate the minority race.
After the hoo-ha, the creative agency behind the campaign and The Celebrity Agency, which manages Dennis Chew, apologised publicly, saying, “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.
“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.”
And immediately after that, they removed the image online, leaving only one Chinese Chew in their website.
But well, that didn’t end.
Preetipls and his brother decided to make a video in response to this incident.
But it wasn’t just a video aimed to make fun of the ad.
It was rather…strong.
Preetipls and his Brother, Subhas
No introduction is needed for Preetipls, whose real name is Preeti Nair.
And if you come to our app daily, you’d also know about his brother, Subhas. The pair have been working closely recently, and they were both Pink Dot Ambassadors back then.
So, the pair made a video in response to the E-Pay ad, and it contained very strong language.
The song was a remix of Iggy Azaela’s song “F*ck It Up”, with the MV being filmed just in front of an E-Pay poster that still had four Chews.
But it’s not the language that’s crossed the line. It’s the content.
In it, the lyrics seem to imply that the majority race is trying to exploit the minorities for money, and this has allegedly been happening again and again.
Truth to be told, I watched it earlier today and was…shocked.
Not because of the lyrics or language, but the siblings’ speed to produce this video in such a short period of time. Now our clients are going to demand for that kind of timeframe, saying that “if Preetipls can do it, you can, too.”
If you want to watch the video, too bad: you should have been online earlier.
Police Report Made & Video Removed
A police report was made, and the police have started investigating it.
Here’s what the men in blue said:
“The Police are aware of an online video that is directed against the E-Pay advertisement. A police report has been lodged against the online video for its offensive content and police investigations are ongoing.
“The police will not tolerate any offensive content that causes ill-will between races.”
And soon after, the video is no longer in Preetipls’ social media platforms, not before getting over 600 Shares and over 30K views.
The video was supposedly removed after the Ministry of Communications and Information asked Facebook to take it down.
And just for your info, Facebook does take down contents like this, which could be considered “hate speech”.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Spoke Out About This Video
Soon after, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam responded to the video.
He said that the video has crossed the line, and it’s not a defence to say that the video was done in response to the E-Pay advertisement.
He added, “If something you didn’t like, then you ask for an apology. If you think it is criminal, you make a police report. You don’t yourself cross the line.”
He said that while it is just a video, allowing it would mean that other similar videos would be allowed, and that shouldn’t happen.
Here’s Mr Shanmugam’s response:
So far, neither Preetipls nor Subhas has responded to the takedown.
And the most ironic part of this whole saga?
This is Preetipls’ latest Facebook post:
Lest you can’t read, here’s the sentence that’s made the saga great again: “When I think about 2025, I hope that people can actually make jokes without it being at the expense of someone else’s race.”
Well, at least they’d have gained more followers in their social media platforms, no?