Singaporean anger over DJ set by 'son of Malaysia PM'

Norashman (C), the son of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak of ruling party National Front, walks with his sister Nurul Najwa (L) as his father campaigns ahead of the 13th general election in Kuala Lumpur on 22 April 2013. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Norashman, seen here in a file picture taken in 2013, is the son of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak

A row has erupted in Singapore after a prominent DJ said a nightclub made him give up the decks so the son of Malaysia's prime minister could perform.

The Zouk superclub, a local institution, has said the incident was "a misunderstanding", but it has triggered a flood of angry comments online, with many siding with Egyptian trance DJ Fadi Wassef Naguib, who accused the club of favouritism.

It also underscored unease in the city-state about a possible spill over of the political scandal engulfing its neighbour.

War of words

The row began after DJ Fila, one half of trance music duo Aly and Fila, ended his headline set at Zouk on Saturday night by saying he had been told to make way for "the son of a prime minister".

He told the crowd he was "insulted" and would never play the club again.

Image copyright Facebook / Aly&Fila
Image caption Mr Fadi posted his version of events on Facebook and said he was asked to stop playing to make way for Mr Norashman

Zouk has not confirmed that Norashman Najib was on the decks, but three people who were at the club told the BBC they saw him perform.

They said the club emptied out when he took over the decks.

An aide to the family of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted as saying Mr Norashman was invited to play, and did not force DJ Fila to stop performing.

"Taking into account that it was an acknowledgment of his talent and hobby, Ashman agreed to do the performance," the aide was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini., using his nickname.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Najib faces mounting opposition and accusations of corruption involving ailing state fund 1MDB, which he founded

Zouk said on Monday it was a "misunderstanding" and DJ Fila was "not at any point of time asked to end his set prematurely before the contracted set end time of 3.30am".

Cross-border worries

But that has not stopped Singaporean club-goers and his fans from flooding Zouk's Facebook page with complaints.

"Music is an escape, something that unites people, a zone where it should be politics free," said one user.

Singaporean Henry Soh, who attended the gig, told the BBC: "This is Singapore, not Malaysia... In Singapore we do not abuse our power or authority, whether or not one is a local or not a local."

Part of the unhappiness has to do with the complicated relationship Singapore has with Malaysia, and how Singaporeans view the political scandals that sporadically erupt across the border.

Singapore prides itself on its squeaky clean and stable image, a contrast with the image of its neighbour, even as it maintains close ties with Mr Najib and his government.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Authorities are probing financial links between Singapore and the troubled Malaysian state fund 1MDB

Though he has officially been cleared of wrongdoing, Mr Najib is facing mounting opposition at home amid accusations of corruption connected to the 1MDB state fund, and links to Singapore have emerged.

Singapore authorities have seized 1MDB-linked bank accounts in a money laundering investigation, while a local banker has emerged as a key figure in the probe.

The Zouk case appears to have reinforced worries that Singapore is not immune from Malaysian-style politics.

Some fans have noted that Zouk was recently purchased by an arm of Malaysian conglomerate Genting.

Genting is one of several companies named by Swiss prosecutors in connection with a criminal investigation into two former officials of 1MDB suspected of bribery.

"Zouk is now under Genting group... Of course now their PR and management... is 'Malaysia Boleh'," said one Facebook user, using a popular pro-Malaysia slogan.

Said another person: "This is Singapore! Not Najib-sia, we don't have to be subservient to the royal Najib family."

11 March 2016 Correction: A previous version of this article wrongly stated that Genting was a state-linked company and that it had been accused of criminal conduct by Swiss prosecutors.

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