KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia has banned the catchy summer dance song “Despacito” from state radio and television broadcasts after critics in the Muslim-majority country complained the lyrics were obscene.
The ban was announced on the government’s Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) on Wednesday by Salleh Said Keruak, the communications and multimedia minister, but the song can still be played on private stations and online platforms.
“As such, RTM will not be airing the song on any of its television or radio stations with immediate effect,” the minister said in a statement to Reuters, adding that the decision followed complaints from the public.
“This decision applies only to RTM,” he added. “All other TV and radio stations are guided by their own evaluation processes against the Communications and Multimedia Content Code.”
The women’s wing of a Malaysian Islamist party, Amanah, had called for a ban over the song’s “obscene lyrics”.
“I see this as a serious matter as the song is being sung by young people without knowing the real meaning of the words,” Amanah official Atriza Umar said in a statement.
The song, first released in January in Spanish by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee and then in a remixed version featuring Justin Bieber, has topped charts in 35 countries around the world and dominated radio.
Its 4.6 billion streams on leading platforms make it the most successful Spanish-language pop song of all time.
Malaysia has previously blocked the release of Hollywood movies deemed offensive to religious values. The release of Walt Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” was postponed this year after censors cut a “gay moment” in the film.
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Emily Chow; Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Clarence Fernandez