From Two-Men Scuffle to Free-for-All

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Sulaiman Yassin slapped Datuk David Teo because he felt Teo was rude to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Now with political parties and NGOs jumping into the fray, it is becoming a racial issue.

  • Mat Over no regrets for slapping David Teo to “teach him some manners”
  • Teo said he was speaking to moderator, denies he was rude to PM
  • NGOs give Teo 3 days to make public apology
  • Ali Tinju blames DAP for scuffle
  • Police reports made, investigation begins

Chances are you would have seen the video that went viral, showing actor Sulaiman Yassin slapping filmmaker Datuk David Teo in front of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) dialogue session last night. The incident took place in a packed hall at Seri Perdana.

What sparked the incident was Teo appearing to question the way the event moderator, actor Datuk Rosyam Nor, was handling the forum. Teo claimed that Rosyam was focussing on artistes sitting in the front rows and ignoring those at the back.

Rosyam then gave way for Teo to air his views and as he was doing so, Sulaiman walked over from his seat to Teo and slapped him, resulting in a brief scuffle. The security team immediately stepped in, separated the duo and ushered them out of the venue. Teo and Sulaiman later shook hands and embraced in front of Najib.

According to Malay Mail Online, Sulaiman, better known as Mat Over, said he did not regret his actions.

“I don’t think what I did was too extreme. It was done to teach him some manners,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times

Teo, the CEO of Metrowealth Pictures (MIG), said that the incident was the most embarrassing thing to happen to him ever since he first got involved in the local entertainment industry. However, he indicated he would not pursue the matter further.

The New Straits Times reported that Teo told Harian Metro, “When I shook hands with the prime minister, I apologised to him even though I did not start the chaos.”

He denied being rude, saying, “I understood that it was a casual event, and there was no protocol involved. I was also speaking out as I was representing the veteran artistes’ association who were seated behind, and their voices couldn’t be heard by the moderator.”

According to The Star, Teo explained that he was actually talking to the moderator.

“It was not my intention to be rude to the Prime Minister. I just told Rosyam some of the participants were not given equal chance (to talk). I have yet to talk to the Prime Minister. So I have no problem with anybody.

“How can I be rude to the Prime Minister?” he asked.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said, “Sometimes, these things do happen and it is just between the two of them.”

He said that he believed the unfortunate incident occurred on the spur of the moment and called on all parties to move on.

Malay Mail Online also reported that Teo said he would not be entertaining any more criticisms and that the matter has already been resolved after he apologised to the prime minister. He added that Najib had accepted his apology and he would not “overrule” the prime minister’s decision on the matter.

He was quoted as saying, “Why are there then third and fourth parties coming? I don’t have to answer.”

The prime minister tweeted today: “Discussion got a little too intense yesterday! A lively discussion but it’s all good now. All will be heard for @myTN50.”

With the two men forgiving each other and keen to move on and even the prime minister saying “it’s all good now”, you would think that would be the end of the matter.

Some groups felt contrary.

FMT news portal reported that even as Zed Zaidi, president of Persatuan Seniman Malaysia, are calling on “outsiders” to stop interfering in the matter which he views as “settled”, several groups are demanding that Teo make a televised public apology for his alleged rude behaviour to the prime minister, though it was the filmmaker who was assaulted there.

Mejar (Ret) Razali Zakaria, president of the obscure Gerakan Mamartabatkan Pejuang Negara (GMPN) said, “Action has to be taken against Teo so it can serve as a lesson to everyone, regardless of their religion.

“Don’t be rude to the prime minister, especially during an official event,” he said at a press conference in front of Teo’s office today.

Earlier today, the media were invited to a peaceful gathering held by several NGOs at Teo’s headquarters. Only six people turned up.

Razali claimed he had only planned to hold a press conference. He issued Teo the ultimatum of publicly apologising within three days, failing which he would demand action to be taken against Teo by the communications and multimedia ministry.

He further urged the defence ministry to strip Teo of his honorary major rank.

According to Malay Mail Online, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said it was not right for such violence to happen in front of the prime minister.

“For this to happen right in front of the country’s top leader, it is a sign of disrespect for the leader.

“There is no excuse for violence. This is something unfortunate and should not happen and the witness who was there just stood there not doing anything,” he said.

Lim also referred to the incident as an “open season” in which violence can be used on certain Malaysians.

“This includes minorities and opposition leaders from all races,” he said.

Penang executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo urged Teo to lodge a police report.

“Najib should stand witness and testify to this unbecoming behaviour that the whole country has now witnessed,” he said.

FMT reported PKR’s Padang Serai MP N Surendran as saying: “It is shocking and unacceptable that the prime minister of Malaysia, having witnessed at close quarters this act of criminal violence, said nothing to condemn or disapprove of the assault to the audience present”.

Reportedly, what shocked Surendran further was the indifference with which Najib wanted the event to proceed after the incident.

“Najib can be heard saying in the aftermath of this violent assault, ‘shift it to somebody else’,” Surendran said.

He also criticised the prime minister for asking Teo and his attacker to shake hands to resolve the matter.

“When a criminal act has taken place, neither the PM nor anyone else has any business trying to settle the matter between them.

“The police must investigate and the law must take its course. Failure to take action or trying to ‘settle’ between the parties is tantamount to condoning criminal violence and public hooliganism.

“The attacker has, in full view of TV cameras, committed criminal offences for which he can be charged under Sections 351 and 321 of the Penal Code. These offences are respectively, assault and voluntarily causing hurt,” he said.

Adding fuel to what is fast becoming a controversy, Mohd Ali Baharom, better known as Ali Tinju, has placed the blame for the scuffle on DAP.

According to FMT, the president of Pertubuhan Pembela Nasib Melayu (Pembela) claimed that Teo was paid by DAP to create a commotion at the dialogue.

He also accused Teo of being DAP’s stooge in the party’s attempt to embarrass Najib in public.

“I’m sure and I read on Facebook and WhatsApp that there are those who say Teo is DAP’s stooge.

“I want to question Teo’s attendance (at the dialogue). This is because he appears to have been hired by irresponsible politicians like Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Muhyiddin Yassin and maybe by DAP leaders.

“Maybe he was paid, or else he wouldn’t have acted that way.

“In fact, we see Teo as always causing problems for the Malays and being rude to the Malays,” he said.

He was apparently referring to a previous incident where Teo had been viewed as belittling the late P Ramlee, saying the actor had died penniless.

Ali Tinju was at the Wangsa Maju police headquarters to file a report against Teo. He urged police to take immediate action so the filmmaker would “repent” and stop being rude to Najib and the Malays.

“If Teo is unhappy with my statement, I ask for him to take this case to court. I’m ready to be taken to court,” said Ali Tinju.

“I’m asking Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to call for an emergency meeting to strip Teo of his honorary rank.

“I’m also requesting for the authorities to ban Teo’s movies so he would repent and avoid repeating the same mistake,” he said.

Police had earlier said they did not initiate any investigation on the incident, that no police report was lodged, and that both parties have since settled the matter amicably.

That situation, however, has changed.

With the police having received reports now, they will investigate the incident.

The Star reported that Putrajaya OCPD Assistant Commissioner Rosly Hassan said the case is being investigated for causing hurt under Section 323 of the Penal Code.