On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Have some decorum, please

The recent ruckus at the TN50 dialogue with the PM in attendance was shameful, no matter how you choose to look at it.

COMEDIAN-ACTOR Sulaiman Yassin needs to attend an anger management course.

He is a has-been but has now regained fame or more precisely, notoriety, for slapping movie producer David Teo at a public dialogue, attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

This is not the first time he has assaulted someone, and if he doesn’t do something about his fiery temper, he will probably end up being charged with inflicting violence against someone one day.

As it is now, he is being investigated by the police for first claiming that his hand missed its target and the very next day conflicting himself, saying he had no regrets slapping Teo.

Teo, who said he had forgiven Sulaiman for his outrageous behaviour, will also be called up by the police, which has rightly filed a report on the case.

Interestingly, there are some who are cheering and back-patting Sulaiman for his much criticised action, which took place during the TN50 dialogue with the Prime Minister. It is hard to comprehend, even bizarre, for anyone with a rational mind to congratulate Sulaiman for his behaviour. It only encourages this feeble mind.

In 2003, he represented a football team comprising artistes in a football match against the staff of TV3 and reportedly attacked a player (or players), prompting the then chairman of Perodua Celebrity Cup, Norman Abdul Halim, to express regret at his rowdy behaviour.

According to a report in Utusan Online, the member of the popular KRU group described the incident involving Sulaiman as “shameful” as it took place in the open, being a football match, and was witnessed by the public.

Fast forward to 2017. The same man, with a tainted record, reportedly complained about Teo’s purported “rude and disrespectful behaviour.”

For most Malaysians, committing such a ruckus in front of the Prime Minister himself went beyond being rude – and we are talking about Sulaiman.

It is arguably a criminal offence (and perhaps, even a lapse in security) as this man could be seen walking slowly but purposefully towards Teo.

Artistes who know Sulaiman, aka Mat Over, say he can be easily provoked and has problems exercising self-control.

What is clear is this – he needs help and making him a celebrity of some sort for his purported bravado isn’t going to help him at all.

Mat Over is certainly not the ideal model for youth, and it is incredible that the Terengganu state government chose him to speak. This was decided even before the slapping incident, and it surely needs to be reviewed now.

Teo, too, needs to take a hard look at himself. Not many may want to tell him but he seriously needs to examine his less-than-favourable mannerism, which many found to be too loud, offensive, aggressive and abrasive. This, perhaps, is regarded as uncouth and rude by many. He may not even know it.

Last year, Teo put his foot in his mouth when he advised artistes to be careful with their spending, saying they should not end up like paupers, pointing out that the late legendary Tan Sri P. Ramlee had to “live at the side walk of Bukit Bintang and his son ended up working at DBKL”.

His intentions may have been good but the manner of conveying his message was done distastefully and Teo had to apologise over the matter as it was seen as an insult and had demeaned the family of the great artiste actor and his legion of fans. Seriously, he needs a script. Off-the-cuff remarks don’t become him.

No one can deny his vast contribution to Malay movies. Although they may not be award-winning, they provided work for hundreds, if not thousands, of local artistes. His critics call his movies “trashy” but they do not deny that they were profitable.

There are many Malaysians who actually like his movies. He remains one of the most prolific and profitable directors around.

To be fair to Teo, he has done more for the welfare and career of Malay artistes than some self-appointed chest thumping communal champions, who are demanding a public apology from him.

The producer is also known to be a generous person who has provided cars and even umrah trips to artistes. I’m sure he even offers personal loans to some artistes, many of whom have no sense of personal budget.

But Teo needs to improve his command of Bahasa Malaysia. Despite having produced nearly 80 Malay movies, he has not been able to speak the language smoothly, in a natural way. The result is that at times, he may end up sounding uncouth.

At last week’s dialogue, the incident might not have been so ugly if he had conducted himself better. He was given a minute to ask his question but he chose to express his frustration at moderator Datuk Rosyam Nor instead.

We are not clear what Rosyam actually said as it could not be heard in the video that went viral. One thing’s for sure, is that Teo needs to be more discerning in what he says publicly as he is a known figure.

Rosyam also came under attack from netizens for purportedly berating Teo for his manner, and perhaps unwittingly led to Sulaiman walking over to “teach David Teo a lesson,” in the words of Sulaiman.

Those who criticised Rosyam included comedian-actor Afdlin Shauki, who claimed that the former opened the floodgates in the first place.

It is quite a relief that common sense prevailed finally. It ended happily, like how those in the movie industry often say. Both rightly apologised to Najib as the host of the meeting which took place at his residence.

It was a shameful incident, no matter how we choose to look at it. A dialogue, as the name suggests, is a conversation between people. It is an exchange of ideas and views, and a meeting of minds. Surely there will be conflicting and sometimes, dissenting views.

But slapping someone or delivering blows at someone we don’t particularly like, offensive as the person may be, isn’t part of a civil discourse. This is not a wrestling or boxing match, please.

It is important that participants learn or keep up a certain decorum and manners when posing questions to someone, whom we have invited to a function to take questions. In the case of the TN50 event, it was the Prime Minister himself.

The artistes were given a rare opportunity to hear the PM, and to ask questions, but unfortunately, some chose to waste the opportunity.

The lesson learnt is for moderators to set certain rules and conditions at future TN50 dialogues, which have actually gone on very well before this. The moderators themselves need to know their roles better.

But these dialogues should be viewed positively. They must be held regularly, and not just because the general election is near.

Such town hall-style meetings allow the stakeholders of various industries to let our leaders know what’s on the mind of the people. It will also allow the leaders to explain the numerous issues. This is what a thriving democracy should be about.