'Racist' video: Indian-origin YouTubers tender apology

Two Indian-origin YouTubers, accused of making a "racist" video to criticise an e-payment advertisement, tendered an unconditional apology on their social media account on Saturday. (Reuters Photo. For representation only)

Two Indian-origin YouTubers, accused of making a "racist" video to criticise an e-payment advertisement, tendered an unconditional apology on their social media account on Saturday.

Posting an apology on their Facebook account, Preeti Nair and her brother Subhas said they "unconditionally apologise for the tone, aggression, vulgarities and gestures" used in the controversial rap video.

"We have apologised but we understand that more needs to be said and done," they said.

"People are offended and we sincerely apologise for it. If we could do it again, we would change the manner in which we approached the issue," Channel News Asia quoted the Facebook post.

On Friday, the Home Affairs Ministry of Singapore had termed their earlier statement "insincere".

The advertisement against which they had created the video was about the network for electronics transfer (NETS), a widely used e-payment system in Singapore.

Their earlier apology closely followed the wording of the statement issued by creative agency Havas and The Celebrity Agency (TCA), Mediacorp's celebrity management arm, which were involved in producing the advertisement.

Local Chinese actor Dennis Chew played four characters in the advertisement, including that of a Malay woman and an Indian man.

To portray these characters, his skin was made to look darker.

Both the advertisement and rap video were termed distasteful and offensive.

The siblings said on Saturday that their video was "born out of frustration and pain" caused by the fact that there "weren't enough safeguards" against the way minorities were portrayed in the national media.

"We only wanted to spark a conversation and get corporations to stop painting people brown to portray a minority and instead simply hire a brown person because brownface is extremely offensive," they said.

"We must, as a nation, have space for people to express themselves; however, at the same time, it is our responsibility as artists, to carry that message in a way that honours the issue and does not hurt people," they added.

The Nair siblings said they wanted to participate in the ongoing discussion, but "do so responsibly".

"It has been a difficult time, but the silver lining is that brownface will probably never happen again in Singapore," they said, adding that their other works were meant to highlight social issues and could be misinterpreted if taken out of context. 

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