David Teo: How Many Times Must I Apologise?

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As some parties not involved in the TN50 scuffle continue to demand a public apology from David Teo, other parties have urged the police to take criminal action against Sulaiman Yassin for hitting Teo.

  • Calls for apology from Teo
  • Calls for criminal action against Sulaiman
  • The law in this 

In an interview with FMT news portal, filmmaker David Teo expressed his exasperation at being repeatedly asked to apologise over the scuffle at the TN50 dialogue on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how many times they want me to apologise and to whom – the public or the person who slapped me?” Teo asked.

“I’ve already apologised to the prime minister. That’s enough lah.

“Saying sorry once is more meaningful than saying it ten times,” he said.

In fact, The Television Producers Association of Malaysia (PTVM), of which Teo is a member, also tendered a public apology on his behalf yesterday. According to Teo, PTVM decided on its own to make the apology. He said he did not need anyone to apologise on his behalf.

Several Malay NGOs have demanded an apology from Teo whom they alleged behaved rudely in the presence of the prime minister.

It has been ascertained by numerous videos that Sulaiman marched from his seat a distance away from the stage to deliver a slap to Teo, ending up hitting Teo’s left arm instead. Sulaiman claimed he was incensed by what he felt was Teo’s disrespectful behaviour in front of Najib and wanted to teach the filmmaker a lesson in manners.

Teo had loudly criticised forum moderator Datuk Rosyam Nor for not giving a chance to attendees in the back rows to be heard. Rosyam then gave the floor to Teo and as the latter started reciting a poem, Sulaiman strode over and hit Teo.

Several parties have called on the police to take criminal action against Sulaiman, better known as Mat Over, who has reportedly said he did not regret what he did.

It would appear that Sulaiman’s action falls under Penal Code article 321: “Whoever does any act with the intention of thereby causing hurt to any person, or with the knowledge that he is likely thereby to cause hurt to any person, and does thereby cause hurt to any person, is said “voluntarily to cause hurt”.

The Star today drew parallels between this incident and one that was related to notorious teen blogger Amos Yee of Singapore, who among his distasteful antics, had compared Lee Kuan Yee to Jesus unfavourably and uploaded a cartoon his blog of Lee and former British PM Margaret Thatcher engaging in a lewd act. Yee was charged with several offences.

As Yee was walking to court for a pre-trial hearing, Neo Gim Huah went up to Yee and delivered a slap on the teenager’s face. The assailant defended his action as wanting to teach the youth a lesson for insulting and being disrespectful to the country’s founding father.

Neo, 49, was charged with voluntarily causing hurt to Yee. He was found guilty and jailed for three weeks – a stiffer punishment than the two-week sentence sought by the prosecution.

According to The Star report, Singapore District Court judge Ronald Gwee wanted to show that such actions must be sufficiently punished as a deterrent to prevent the opening of the “gates to future cases of aggrieved persons taking matters into their own hands.”

“A strong message must be sent to the public at large and particularly to like-minded persons as the accused, that his brand of vigilante justice must never be allowed to take root,” the judge said.

Earlier report: May 18, From Two-Men Scuffle to Free-for-All