Despacito ban: Let children make their own song choice


PETALING JAYA: Parent groups say there is no need to ban sexually-charged songs as children should be mature enough not to be influenced by the lyrics.

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said there was no need for parents to “control” the kind of music their children listened to.

“We have taught our children what is good, so do we need to control them by telling them what songs they should listen to or not?” she told FMT.

She said this when asked if children should be prohibited from listening to “Despacito”, the Spanish hit song which the government recently blocked from Radio Televisyen Malaysia’s (RTM) radio and television channels.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said the decision was made after a public complaint was reviewed by RTM’s panel.

However, he said the song could still be accessed online.

The women’s wing of Amanah had also urged authorities to stop the song from being played on the airwaves, saying the lyrics were not suitable for public consumption.

However, Azimah said children might not take lyrics into account when singing along with a song.

“Children sing to the song not because of what it means, but because it’s just pleasant to the ears,” she said.

She added that she too was hooked on the song’s catchy rhythm but not the meaning behind the song.

Azimah said it was up to children if they wanted to sing “Despacito” even if the lyrics were sexual in nature.

“No need for parental control. They can decide for themselves.”

She added that the RTM ban would not have any effect on listeners as they would be able to find the song on other channels.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin agreed with Azimah that children should be allowed to decide for themselves what was good and what was bad when it came to the songs they listened to.

Mak said he was appalled at the government for acting as “moral police” by imposing the ban on the song on RTM channels.

“I appreciate that they highlight the song’s contents so that we as parents can be aware of it. But to impose what they think is right or wrong is really ridiculous.”

He added that announcing a ban on “Despacito” would only cause the more curious among the people to look for the song elsewhere. He gave as an example Magpie committee members who wanted to know what the fuss was all about.

Mak said banning a song for its sexual content was silly, pointing out that classic love songs such as “The Room at the Top of the Stairs” did not brainwash or encourage teenagers in the 1980s to act immorally.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen meanwhile condemned the ban on Twitter, calling it “absurd”.

“Real 3rd world mentality,” he said. “A bit desperado to ban Despacito.”

He also responded to the call by Amanah’s women’s wing for the song to be banned, asking why they had to “go to PAS’ level”.

“A song is just a song. Up to parents to monitor kids. Dont turn Msia into a nanny state,” he tweeted.

“Despacito” is a single by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi featuring rapper Daddy Yankee.

It topped the charts in 45 countries and reached the top 10 in nine others, making it Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s most successful single to date.

The music video meanwhile has gained over two billion views on YouTube and was reportedly streamed over 4.6 billion times on Spotify.

Part of the lyrics read: “Let me breathe your neck slowly, let me undress you with kisses slowly, sign the walls of your labyrinth, and make your whole body a manuscript.”

In the past, suggestive songs aired over public airwaves were subjected to censors, with swear words being silenced without disrupting the flow of the song.

Afiqah Farieza contributed to this article.