Malaysian rapper faces sedition charge over YouTube clip

(AFP) – – A Malaysian rapper is being investigated for sedition, police said Monday, after posting a YouTube video which drew allegations he was stirring up ethnic tensions in the multicultural nation.

Wee Meng Chee, 27, better known as Namewee to his fans, made national headlines three years ago over another YouTube clip mocking the national anthem which authorities also said was seditious.

He apologised for that incident, but is in fresh trouble for posting a three-minute rap titled “Nah” criticising a Muslim Malay headmistress accused of making racial slurs against her ethnic Chinese and Indian students.

“We are investigating him under the Sedition Act,” Bakri Zinin, the Federal Criminal Investigation chief, told AFP, adding that Wee will soon be called to give a statement.

Wee faces up to three years in prison if he is charged and convicted.

The rapper removed the video from YouTube on Sunday, after prompting criticism from various parties including Prime Minister Najib Razak who reportedly urged action against those who try to stoke racial tensions.

“We don’t care whether he has removed the video or not, the harm has already been done, we will continue with the investigation,” said Bakri.

In the video, which is still available on other websites, Wee used obscene language and rapped in a mixture of English and the national language Malay.

The headmistress allegedly told ethnic Chinese students to return to China and compared Hindu prayer strings to dog leashes.

The government has ordered a probe into the case which caused anger among Malaysia’s minorities who complain that their rights are being eroded as the country becomes increasingly “Islamised”.

“I am a Malaysian who grew up harmoniously with friends from all walks of life and different races,” Wee said on his blog Sunday.

“My main objective for uploading the new video ‘Nah’ was to condemn such acts and to stand up against racism,” he said. The title is a slang word for “no”.

“I have also taken out the said video from my YouTube account since I have already highlighted my stand over the issue, which is to stop racism in this country,” added the rapper.

Wee has developed a cult following among young Malaysians after his controversial six-minute rap video in 2007 that mocked the national anthem. He is reportedly preparing to launch an album next month.