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Rapper Subhas Nair sentenced to jail for attempting to promote ill will between races and religions

Subhas Nair maintains his innocence and will be appealing against both the conviction and sentence, says his lawyer.

Rapper Subhas Nair sentenced to jail for attempting to promote ill will between races and religions

Rapper Subhas Nair at the State Courts on Mar 21, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: Singaporean rapper Subhas Nair, 31, was sentenced to six weeks' jail on Tuesday (Sep 5) for attempting to promote ill will among racial and religious groups through online posts.

Nair, whose full name is Subhas Govin Prabhakar Nair, was convicted in July of four such charges over statements he made between July 2019 and March 2021, comparing races and religions.

He intends to appeal against his conviction and sentence, and maintains his innocence, his lawyer Mr Suang Wijaya told the court.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan agreed with the prosecution that deterrence for such offences "takes on a greater significance in the age of social media and the internet", as ill-intended racist messages can be disseminated to a larger audience almost instantaneously.

He added that such messages cause harm not only to the targeted racial or religious groups, but society in general.

The four charges that Nair was convicted of relate to a YouTube video where he and his sister Preeti Nair, known as Preetipls, performed a song containing the lyrics: "Chinese people always out here f***ing it up".

He was given a two-year conditional warning by the police over this, but he reoffended by posting comments on social media.

He commented on a viral video by two Christians who linked the gay pride movement to Satan, writing: "If two Malay Muslims made a video promoting Islam and saying the kinds of hateful things these Chinese Christians said, ISD (Internal Security Department) would have been at the door before they even hit 'upload'."

In another incident, Nair made an Instagram post referring to a media interview of Chan Jia Xing, who was given a conditional warning for a reduced charge of consorting with a person who had a weapon. Chan was one of seven people originally charged with murdering a man at Orchard Towers.

Nair wrote that "calling out racism and Chinese privilege" equalled a two-year conditional warning and "smear campaign in the media", while "actually conspiring to murder an Indian man" equalled half the sentence and a question of "you're having a baby soon right? Boy or girl" from the media.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Suhas Malhotra and Jordon Li asked for six weeks' jail, while defence lawyer Mr Suang Wijaya asked for 20 days. 

The judge said that an analysis of case precedents shows that jail terms are usually given for such cases.

He disagreed with the defence's argument that Nair's case was less serious because he did not use racial slurs or derogatory references.

"In my view, sowing racial and or religious discontent by alleging that law enforcement in Singapore discriminates based on race or religious grounds is just as serious as the casting of racial slurs," said the judge.

He said this was because it could potentially lead to the erosion of trust in enforcement agencies and lead to a breakdown of law and order.

Nair will be asking for bail pending appeal. A few supporters came to attend his hearing, including his sister.

The penalties for attempting to promote feelings of ill will between racial or religious groups are a jail term of up to three years, a fine or both.

Source: CNA/ll(mi)


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