Namewee, the controversy-courting Malaysian singer-songwriter, has been the victim of an unusual hacking attack. His YouTube channel was this week attacked, stripped of its content and renamed with a Russian obscenity.
Given the degree of access necessary to achieve such a feat, the hacking suggests that Namewee (real name Wee Meng Chee) has upset some powerful people.
In 2021, he deliberately taunted mainland China’s patriotic army of keyboard warriors, known as ‘little pinks’ with his song “Fragile” and was subsequently banned in China. More recently, he has voiced support for Ukraine, which has been fighting back against the invading Russian military for some five weeks.
Namewee has been operating his authenticated account for some 13 years, built up a subscriber base of 3.27 million and had accumulated over 6 billion video views. These were all reset to zero earlier this week, though Namewee has since been able to retrieve some of his content.
The appearance of Russian language on Namewee’s channel points to a possible cause, but not necessarily the origin of the hack. Namewee is well-known among the Chinese-speaking diaspora, and unlike the rest of the world, Chinese netizens have been supportive of Russia, rather than Ukraine. The Chinese government has parroted Russian propaganda and on Thursday unsuccessfully voted against Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.
Germany-based current affairs commentator Martin Oei, who also runs YouTube pages, said that Namewee operates a verified artist channel and that YouTube should offer greater protection for such content creators. Oei said he suspected that the hacking may have been done within YouTube or its parent Google by Chinese employees who are loyal to Beijing. Oei said he has observed other incidents related to accounts with political content, but he has been unable to get answers from Google.
Neither Google nor Namewee responded to Variety’s requests for comment.
Instead, on a social media posting Namewee said: “It’s not that I don’t cherish my 13 years of hard work. It’s just that I’m prepared for this day to come. I have offended too many people all these years. This has taken 13 years to happen and it’s already pretty late, especially after the release of ‘Fragile’ last year.”
YouTubers from Hong Kong who have been politically vocal against Beijing have previously accused the streaming giant of censoring their content by barring them from reaching advertisers.