Prompted by President Halimah Yacob’s demands for an apology, the hosts of the OkLetsGo (OLG) podcast that came under intense scrutiny for misogynistic views against women have finally taken to their social media platforms to put out public apologies.
The podcast, which first aired in February 2019, is hosted by three former Mediacorp radio deejays, Dzar Ismail, 34, Dyn Norahim, 38, and Raja Razie, 38.
OkLetsGo podcast is hosted by former Mediacorp artistes Dzar, Dyn and Raja. Photo: Facebook Screengrab
OkLetsGO apology: President and Mufti weigh in
Despite being the number one podcast in Singapore on Spotify, the show that raked in such high ratings also received mass backlash for their disrespectful comments towards women, leading to a Facebook post on 15 June, by President Halimah calling for an apology by the hosts.
“If we continue to perpetuate the image of women being inferior, existing only for the purpose of male sexual gratification, then we have to be held responsible for being one of the perpetrators of violence against women,” the President noted.
She further added that woman are not “objects to be made fun of, ridiculed and trampled upon” and that “no one has the right to do that to them.”
“Taking cheap potshots at women to boost ratings or to make some people laugh no matter how offensive, cannot be justified under any label be it freedom of speech or encouraging conversations. How do you encourage healthy conversations about the role of women and families, when your starting point is to degrade women,” she added.
Calling for the hosts of the podcast to issue an OkLetsGo apology and to “sincerely and humbly apologise to all women for their offensive, humiliating and misogynistic remarks on their podcasts about women,” the President stated that women “don’t deserve this treatment by OkLetsGo or any other group.”
“Our women in Singapore have worked very hard to raise their status through education, employment and in raising healthy families. They are important in building healthy communities which will be undermined by such podcasts,” she noted.
Facebook post by President Halimah Yacob calling for OkLetsGo apology. Image source: President Halimah Yacob/Facebook
In addition, to President Halimah, the Mufti of Singapore, Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, also condemned the controversial podcast and stated that such platforms should be used to “create positive change, not to perpetuate sexist attitudes and behaviours that have plagued our community for far too long.”
“Let the misogyny train depart for good so that we can be better,” the Mufti added.
‘To whomever it may concern’
After a previous social media post and a podcast that was mostly ill-received by netizens on 14 June, the three hosts finally issued identical apologies, stating that the “flavour” of the podcasts will remain and the format would not change, prior to the President’s calls for an apology.
The podcast episode that was captioned, “To whomever it may concern, this is for you” was mostly a 10-minute soliloquy by Dzar, with the others joining in a few times.
The episode further ruffled netizens who found the “apology” defensive and lacking sincerity.
“We are not mainstream media. For the longest time, longest being about 1.5 years lah, I mean that’s our existence what. People have loved us for who we are, the flavour we give, the stage personas we present. In our live shows, it’s evident. In our podcast, in our live stream shows, it is seen,” Dzar commented on the general vein that the episodes are conducted on.
Addressing the claims of misogyny, he went on to state that the podcast will not appeal to everyone as we will come from “different backgrounds.” “If you were to look and nitpick certain content that you hear, there will be some things that rub you off differently,” he stated.
On the contrary, he stated that OLG empowered women and had contributed to their welfare on many occasions exposing viewers to underrepresented segments with bringing on a wide variety of guests including a sex worker, a transgender, and an ex-Muslim. He also noted that the hosts had paid for milk and diapers to be given out to single mums, out of their own pocket.
“We are not mainstream. It’s meant to push boundaries and it’s not meant to be taken seriously… Look at it objectively, we’ve daughters, we’ve wives, we’ve mothers, and we are proud of them. We acknowledge that the language we use is out of the ordinary. But this in truth and in fact, this is actually consistent with our flavour. This is our flavour. Our show is maturing. The quality of guests that we bring in has skyrocketed. We are bringing in real people with real-life experiences to share with our listener base. I can assure you, this is never going to f***ing change,” Dzar further noted.
He also ruminated that the response was a “coordinated attack” on the podcast because of its fame and significant fan base, and ended by saying: “Rest assured, we will never stop doing what we do best.
However, after receiving comments from the President and the Mufti, Dzar then posted an apology yesterday (June 15) on his Facebook page, which was followed by the other two hosts as well.
OkLetsGo Apology on Facebook by the hosts of the show. Photo: Facebook screengrab
In the apologies, Dzar and cohosts Dyn and Raza acknowledged those who reached out to them expressing concerns about their content and thanked President Halimah and everyone else for “amplifying the voices of those who have been hurting, and we take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to all our listeners who we have hurt with our words and content.”
He further acknowledged that it had taken long for them to realise the hurt their words have caused and that the backdrop to this might be because they “came from an industry that has peddled in these norms for a very long time, both on- and off-screen.”
“We will reflect and tweak our approach to not cause offence to any particular group within and beyond our community. The growth of our channel has made clear that we have a responsibility towards our community, and not only specific segments of it,” the hosts stated.
“We want to make clear that we do not condone misogyny in any way. Violence against women in all forms have existed for the longest time, and in many parts of society. But we can learn to undo it, and play a part in ensuring it does not go any further. We apologize for the objectification of women and will be more careful in the way we portray matters moving forward,” they further added.