SINGAPORE - What began as a regular sit-down interview with actor Elvin Ng on the Channel 8 talk show The Inner Circle has snowballed into a complicated web of allegations of bullying on set, with various stars and local personalities chiming in. The Straits Times recaps the saga.
Elvin Ng v Patrick Lee
On an episode of The Inner Circle that aired on April 7, Ng, 40, alleged that he was bullied on set by a Taiwanese actor playing his older brother while filming a series in Malaysia.
Without naming names, he said the actor was unprofessional and tried to make him forget his lines and even made rude comments, which drove him to tears.
Netizens quickly pieced together that Ng was talking about Taiwanese model-actor Patrick Lee, who has in recent years focused on bodybuilding. Lee played Ng's brother in the 2018 drama Gifted.
A day later, Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao contacted Gifted executive producer Yeo Saik Pin, who confirmed that there was conflict between the two actors on set.
In the report, Lee's management agency CatWalk responded to Ng's claims with the phrase, "The truth will speak for itself."
On April 10, Lee broke his silence and wrote on his Instagram account: "A Taiwanese who is all alone in a place that is full of Singaporeans... bullying a Singaporean? Where is the logic? If you were the Taiwanese, would you do that?"
Seeming to address Ng directly, he ended the post with: "Congratulations, you have become a little more famous."
Ng kept his cool despite Lee's heated response and said that whatever happened between him and Lee "doesn't matter".
He posted a picture of a tree on Instagram and said his comments had come out "in casual chatter" and that it was just "some straight speaking say-it-as-it-is picked up by the wind, gained some speed and then also went with the wind".
He ended the post with: "Live and let live, there are bigger things."
Patrick Lee v Danny Yeo/Xu Bin/Zax Wang/Amanda Chu
Corroborating Elvin Ng's claims that Patrick Lee has a mean streak are several other stars.
Local host Danny Yeo told Shin Min Daily News on April 10 that Lee once flew into a rage when he was hosting an event for the movie Imperfect (2012), starring Lee, Singapore actor Li Nanxing and Taiwanese actress Chiang Tsu-ping.
Yeo said: "In all my years of hosting, Patrick Lee is the only celebrity to have ever yelled at me and he did it in front of everyone in a cinema, and told me to get out."
Another home-grown actor Xu Bin was once also on the receiving end of Lee's rage.
In a 2014 Lianhe Zaobao interview, Xu said Lee hurled expletives at him two years earlier, while they were filming the Channel 8 drama Spice Up (2014).
Xu said Lee was upset as he started saying his lines before Lee was done. He said he apologised to Lee afterwards, but was ignored.
Lee has his fair share of feuds back home in Taiwan as well.
Most famously, Zax Wang - a member of the Taiwanese boy band 5566 - complained about Lee's unprofessional on-set behaviour while the two were co-hosting game show Time Is Money (2015 to 2016) in 2015.
Wang claimed he convinced producers Lee was a good fit for the show, but said he regretted his decision as Lee turned out to be "arrogant and disrespectful".
Lee was allegedly a sore loser who walked off the set when he lost a game and once even turned his back to the camera when Wang was closing the show.
Lee was replaced as host shortly after this public conflict.
Lee also reportedly bullied Amanda Chu while filming and promoting his most popular drama to date - The Fierce Wife (2010), about an extramarital affair.
Chu was one of the major characters while Lee played a supporting role. Chu was allegedly sidelined by Lee and fellow co-stars Sonia Sui and Janel Tsai, who was Lee's former girlfriend.
Elvin Ng v Dasmond Koh and Angel Lim
In an Instagram post, host and NoonTalk Media co-founder Dasmond Koh, 49, contemplated how Ng's comments have shone a light on bullying in the entertainment industry before dropping a bombshell.
At the end of his post, he tagged Ng and actress Angel Lim. "Do not do unto others what you don't want others to do to you, so I'd like to ask Elvin, what happened on set that year when you were filming Heart To Heart (2018 to 2019) with Angel Lim?"
Lim, 23, is managed by Koh's agency. Koh later said an unpleasant incident occurred between the two stars, but did not give details.
On April 14, Koh said in a radio interview he had talked to Ng on the telephone and the people involved had "spoken their mind". But he kept mum about what actually happened between Lim and Ng.
He said: "We've let each other know what we think and this is the end of the matter."
Last Friday, Ng seemingly responded to this issue. He wrote on Instagram: "Silence speaks louder than noise, so let my silence speak for me for now. I will speak but when the time is right and on my own terms, not anyone else's. I'll not be a part of someone else's narrative, and like any decent human being, I'm on the same page as everyone on anti-bullying, wrongful and unjust acts, and discrimination."
Sora Ma v unnamed veteran star
In an exclusive interview with Chinese tabloid Shin Min Daily News, Malaysian actress Sora Ma said she was bullied on the set of TV drama 118 II (2016 to 2017) by a veteran co-star whom she did not name.
The 37-year-old said the artiste would often treat her as if she was invisible and directed mean comments towards her.
She added that tension between her and the artiste eased after her 118 II co-star Chen Hanwei stepped in to mediate the situation. Ma said she still did not know why she had incurred the wrath of the artiste.
In follow-up interviews, 118 II stars Chen Hanwei and Chen Tianwen both confirmed that they had heard of Ma's unhappy experiences while filming the series, but did not go into details.
Chen Hanwei added: "She told me about it. But personally, I may not go so far to describe it as bullying."