Malaysia: Ministry bans ‘Despacito’ over sexually-charged lyrics
Share this on

Malaysia: Ministry bans ‘Despacito’ over sexually-charged lyrics

SUGGESTIVE lyrics in the hit Latin pop song Despacito have struck a raw nerve with Malaysian authorities, despite being recorded mainly in Spanish.

On Wednesday, Malaysia’s government moved to ban the song from being aired on public radio and television following complaints of sexually-charged lyrics, according to independent outlet Free Malaysia Today.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak told the news website Despacito by Puerto Rican artistes Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ceases being broadcast on government free-to-air stations on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

“RTM has stopped the song on all RTM radio stations and over RTM TV with immediate effect,” Salleh was quoted as saying, adding the decision came about after the RTM review panel received several complaints from the public.

“They have decided to withdraw the approval of the song,” he said.

Despite the ban on public channels, Salleh said the song would still be accessible on other media, especially the Internet, but asked private stations to practise self-censorship.

“Radio airwaves are but one of the many channels through which the public, especially the younger generation, hear those songs,” he said.

“As such, we ask the radio stations to be sensitive to local norms and apply self-censorship of the song, be it by stopping the airplay or audio deleting part of the song.”


Meanwhile, record company Universal Music on Wednesday said the song had set a record as the most streamed music track of all time, with some 4.6 billion plays across leading platforms.

The song, first released in January in Spanish by Fonsi and then in a remixed version featuring Justin Bieber, has topped charts in 35 countries around the world and dominated radio play.

Its 4.6 billion streams surpass the record set by Bieber with his 2015 single Sorry and its remixes, making it the most successful Spanish-language pop song of all time.

“Streaming has opened up the possibility of a song with a different beat, from a different culture and in a different language to become a juggernaut of success around the world,” Universal Music Group chief executive Lucian Grainge said in a statement.

Despacito (“Slowly”) has spent 10 consecutive weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, 17 weeks at No. 1 in Spain and nine weeks in the top spot in Britain, according to Universal Music.

Fonsi, previously little known outside of Puerto Rico, said it was “truly an honor ‘Despacito’ is now the most streamed song in history”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Topics covered: