Controversial artiste Namewee surrenders to Malaysian police over investigations into film ‘Babi’

KUALA LUMPUR: Fresh out of quarantine, Malaysian artiste Wee Meng Chee, 37, better known as…

KUALA LUMPUR: Fresh out of quarantine, Malaysian artiste Wee Meng Chee, 37, better known as Namewee, surrendered himself at the Dang Wangi police station in central Kuala Lumpur on Monday (Mar 22). 

In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Namewee said this was the eighth time he had taken the initiative to cooperate with the police in his career as a musician and film-maker. 

“I have never tried to run even though I know I am just a normal citizen and I am not strong enough to fight the huge suppression from this country,” he wrote.

“But one thing I know (is) I am Malaysian, I love Malaysia, and I hope Malaysia loves me too.” 

He added that if there are no updates before night time, it would mean that he might be detained based on previous experience. 

Police reports were earlier lodged against Namewee over the film “Babi” (the Malay word for pig), which he directed. There are allegations that the film contained elements of racism that tarnished Malaysia’s image.

However, Namewee was then in Taiwan, and only returned to undergo COVID-19 quarantine on Mar 14.

After disembarking at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Namewee said he was flagged as being wanted by the authorities. He was taken to the airport police station and later underwent quarantine at a hotel. 

The film “Babi”, which was released last year, depicts school violence that purportedly took place in a secondary school in the southern part of Malaysia in 2000, according to explanatory videos made by the artiste.

In addition, Namewee said last year that as the film’s director, he wanted to send a message about the importance of unity and tolerance. 

“I sincerely hope that every race in Malaysia can be united and can live harmoniously with each other, instead of becoming divided and cause internal conflicts,” he said.

In December last year, the local artists’ association, Seniman had lodged a report against the film. This came after the ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional’s youth wing lodged a report against the film the month before. 

The film received a number of nominations at international film festivals such as the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, Bangkok International Film Festival and Around International Film Festival in Berlin, among others.

Namewee

A screengrab from Namewee’s video which was posted on YouTube. 

Namewee is no stranger to controversy. He has rapped satirically about issues such as government inefficiency, unequal treatment and corruption.

In 2018, he was detained amid an uproar over what some say was an obscene Lunar New Year music video depicting people in dog masks dancing in what appears to be Putrajaya.

On Monday afternoon, Namewee was reported to have exited the Dang Wangi station at 2.45pm, without speaking to the press.