Zouk saga

Why DJ stopped playing

Zouk has been acquired by Genting Hong Kong, an affiliate of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group.
Zouk has been acquired by Genting Hong Kong, an affiliate of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group.PHOTO: ZOUK

DJ Fila, of Egyptian trance duo Aly & Fila, says Zouk's new owner wanted its VIP guest, the son of Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Norashman, to play

The Egyptian DJ at the centre of a storm involving the son of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has responded to claims that he was asked to end his set early at Zouk on March 6 so that the VIP guest could play.

He said that he was not asked to end his set early, but was asked to stop playing as Zouk's new owner wanted Mr Norashman to play.

DJ Fila, one half of Egyptian trance duo Aly & Fila, and whose real name is Fadi Wassef Naguib, gave his account of what happened that night in a statement released on Facebook yesterday morning. He was responding to a Zouk statement on Monday that said it did not ask DJ Fila to end his set prematurely.

He said that he arrived at the club at 1am for an interview and started his set at 1.40am.

He was also introduced to the "VIP Guest and the new owner of Zouk". He did not name them.

Zouk was acquired by conglomerate Genting Hong Kong (Genting HK) last year for an undisclosed amount. While it is headquartered and listed in Hong Kong, with a secondary listing in Singapore, Genting HK is an affiliate of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group, which Genting Singapore is a part of.

The club is now helmed by Mr Lim Keong Hui, Genting Hong Kong's executive director; Mr Andrew Li, the firm's vice- president of lifestyle and food and beverage concepts; and Zouk's former general manager-turned- managing director, Mr Benny Heng. It is not clear which person hosted PM Najib's son.

DJ Fila said that he was contractually obliged to play from 1.30 to 3.30am but Mr Byden Lian, Zouk's DJ bookings manager, told him that he could "play till the end", that is, finishing at 4.30am.

At 3.30am, the DJ said, Mr Lian asked if he was willing to play back to back with the VIP guest. DJ Fila refused.

"I continued playing, then 15 minutes after, Byden came to me and he told me that I will have to stop as the new owner wants the 'VIP guest' to play," he said.

"I just wanted to let our fans who paid money to see me know the reason why I stopped my set and I didn't play the three hours like every time I have been there."

The Straits Times contacted Zouk to verify DJ Fila's account, but the nightspot did not respond at press time.

Aly & Fila, who made it to No. 42 on DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs list last year, have played in Zouk several times.

Ms Wong Wei Jean, 27, a Zouk regular who has been going to the club for almost 10 years and was there on March 6, said she went to see DJ Fila because "he's known for playing past his contracted time".

"Most DJs just play for a bit and leave, and there's not really much interaction with the crowd."

She added that she left after DJ Fila left and Mr Norashman took to the decks.

The digital marketer said: "We got a table for Aly & Fila, we didn't get a table to see this VIP play. Who are you to stop people from getting what they paid for?"

Other guest DJs at Zouk, including Danny Tenagalia and Sven Vath, have been known to play past their scheduled set times.

Zouk's former marketing manager Andrew Ing said that he does not know the circumstances of the incident, but added: "I don't think we would have allowed that to happen under my watch."

In a video posted by Facebook user Derrick Low on Sunday that was widely shared, DJ Fila is heard telling the crowd: "I will see you somewhere in the future, not in Zouk anymore, because I won't play in Zouk any f***ing more."

He went on to say: "They insulted me, but I love you guys."

Malaysia's Malaysiakini news website has quoted the aide to PM Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor, Mr Rizal Mansor, as denying that Mr Norashman, 26, had asked to perform at Zouk.

Mr Rizal said that Mr Norashman "was invited by the club's management to perform as the finishing act due to his turntable skills".

He added: "Taking into account that it was an acknowledgement of his talent and hobby, Ashman agreed to do the performance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Why DJ stopped playing'. Print Edition | Subscribe