A new online petition calling for ChannelNewsAsia (CNA) to reinstate all segments of a local documentary featuring rapper Subhas Nair is gathering momentum. As of Friday (2 Aug), the petition has garnered 4,000 signatures.
On July 31, 2019, Subhas Nair posted a video on Instagram saying that he was “looking forward” to the premiere of ROAR, an upcoming musical documentary. The documentary featured four local musicians — Benjamin Kheng, Aisyah Aziz, Wang Weiliang and Subhas Nair. These musicians were tasked with writing some music for National Day.
Subhas had collaborated with Migrants Band Singapore for a song called Utopia. This segment was meant to highlight the lives and contributions of foreign workers in Singapore.
However, Subhas was also embroiled in a separate controversy where he was investigated by the police for releasing a satirical rap video condemning a racially insensitive Nets Pay ad. The rap video was roundly condemned by key government officials and taken down by IMDA. In response, CNA proceeded to cut all segments of the documentary which featured Subhas as well as online articles mentioning his involvement in the documentary.
But by removing Subhas’ segments from the documentary, CNA was also indirectly removing all mentions of Migrant Band Singapore, the musical group behind the song Utopia.
The petition starter – listed as local contemporary arts magazine Sand – wrote in its appeal: “Erasing the narrative of migrant communities from the documentary sends the message that their stories do not matter, and that they are disposable. Their stories need to be told, and as an audience, we demand to hear them.”