Since last night, many Malaysians have became incensed over a segment aired on Singaporean comedy programme ‘OK Chope!’ and everyone’s attention was directed towards one of the panelist, Singaporean entertainer and celebrity host Najip Ali.

The programme shown on Channel 5 on 29 March was hosted by Vernetta Lopez and featured three other celebrities: Mike Kasem, Rishi Budhrani and Sam See.

The part which has caused an uproar as it was considered insensitive and intentionally insulting to our prime minister was when the participants were asked to fill in the blank to complete the sentence which read: “Najib slams … for threatening Malaysia’s progress”.

The rest of the panelists of the programme gave various responses, however, all their replies had triggered negative reactions from Malaysians as it initially looked like our Prime Minister was being made the butt of jokes.

However, the bulk of Malaysians anger was directed towards Najip Ali, who is a familiar name in the Malaysian entertainment industry and many were quick to accuse him of forgetting his roots as he continues to make a living in Malaysia as one of the judges in a reality show.

The president of Malaysian Artistes Association (Seniman), Rozaidi Jamil or also known as Zed Zaidi, had even publicly demanded Najip Ali to apologise by this Friday (7 April). Otherwise, a police report will be made against him besides calling for Najip Ali to be banned from appearing on any television shows in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the local scriptwriters group Angkatan Karyawan Nasionalis (Akar) has also urged the government to ban Najip Ali from entering the country.

Are these actions taken a little too extreme against Najip Ali? If Malaysian feels insulted by this programme, their outrage should be directed at the show’s producers, instead of Najip Ali.

The entertainer was only doing his job in answering the questions given by the host, but now it seems, the blame has entirely been placed on him alone.

Secondly, if we take a closer look at the recording, the answers given by Najip Ali was not meant as an insult to our Prime Minister for he was only giving his best shot at guessing the answer with the letter ‘P’ and ‘B’.

“Najib with the ‘B’ slams Najip with the ‘P’,” he quipped.

Thirdly, after Najip Ali gave his reply, he refrained from further comments and did not give any other snide remarks unlike the rest of the panelists in that episode. His actions show that the entertainer handled the awkward situation with restrain and wisdom, as well as, providing a ‘safe answer’.

In fact, Najip Ali’s answer was actually humorous instead of insulting! Furthermore, after all the celebrities had a go at guessing, the host, Vernetta revealed the real answer which turns out to be ‘fake news’.

Vernetta also explained that because of fake news, Malaysia almost lost out on the big investment deal with Saudi Aramco, which amounted to about RM31 billion. With that answer and the interest generated during the question time provided valuable publicity to get the information out there on the real situation in Malaysia and it is actually a good thing to get the news out to the public!

Seniman President Shows His True Colours

When Seniman’s Zed Zaidi publicly insisted Najip Ali to make an apology threatening to make a police report, this clearly shows the Seniman president is resorting to bullying and finding faults, especially among foreign celebrities.

Zed Zaidi should instead examine carefully what Najip Ali has said because he did not utter any words or expressions that deliberately insulted the Prime Minister, so why should he be threatened with legal action?

The Seniman president has shown this decidedly bias streak against foreign celebrities working in Malaysia before with the controversy he stirred up over Aaron Aziz’s victory at the Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian in 2011.

Similarly, the previous incident of Zed Zaidi raging against Indonesian artist, Julia Perez or Jupe, which led him to insult Jupe on Twitter as though he was a criminal.

As a president, Zed Zaidi should exhibit more restraint and wisdom in resolving issues in the entertainment industry, which includes Najip Ali’s case. However, as shown by this recent incident, it is not always the case.

Coming back to Najip Ali, we need not go overboard in demanding punishment as though he had committed a motherload of sins. Instead, we should look at the positive side and refrain from becoming overly emotional to the risk of appearing ridiculous in the eyes of the international community.

Mediacorp And Najib Ali Have Apologised

Furthermore, the television station of Singapore, Mediacorp Channel 5 and Najip Ali in a recent statement today has already apologized to Datuk Seri Najib and all Malaysians on the segment.

“Channel 5 and the production team behind OK Chope! wish to sincerely apologise to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for a segment on last week’s episode,” said Mediacorp’s chief customer officer Debra Soon.

“We have thus pulled it from repeat telecast with immediate effect,” she added.

As for Najip Ali, he had come forward with a public apology, stating, “Over the last few days I have reflected on the comments I made during a segment on a Channel 5 comedy show which referenced Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. I realise how insensitive and callous I was.

“I would like to apologise unreservedly to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. I beg his forgiveness and that of my viewers and friends,” he said.

With that, let us put a stop to this debacle and avoid making this issue bigger than it is.

– mD