Row after Singapore’s Zouk asks top DJ to make way for Malaysian PM’s son

I did what I did to defend my human rights, says Egyptian DJ Fadi after storming out of booth with vow not to return to nightclub where he’s been a regular performer. Angry fans point to club’s purchase by arm of Malaysian leisure giant

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 11:49am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 12:26pm

Singapore nightclub Zouk has become embroiled in controversy after a well-known international DJ was forced to stop his performance to make way for the son of Malaysia’s prime minister.

DJ Fadi, of Egyptian trance music duo Aly & Fila, was performing at the city-state’s best-known club in the early hours of March 6 when club management told him to stop playing and hand the DJ booth over to Norashman Najib, son of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

Fadi, who has made regular appearances at Zouk over the years, took to the microphone to voice his displeasure.

In a video recorded that night, Fadi can be heard saying: “It seems that Zouk wants someone else to play. Not only because of that, because apparently he’s the son of a prime minister. Thank you so much - enjoy my last track, I’ll see you somewhere in the future. Not in Zouk any more, because I won’t play in Zouk any f***ing more. They’ve insulted me, but I love you guys.”

Zouk, which was founded in 1991 by Singaporean entrepreneur Lincoln Cheng, was sold in December 2015 to leisure, entertainment and hospitality company Genting Hong Kong, a part of the Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group. Internet commentators have been quick to point out the links between Genting and the Malaysian government.

READ MORE: Hong Kong’s Genting to take Zouk, Singapore nightclub brand, to ‘next level’

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Zouk blamed the situation on a “misunderstanding” and stated that Fadi “was not at any point of time asked to end his set prematurely before the contracted set end time of 3.30am”.

However, in the DJ industry the contracted set times are usually seen as a minimum requirement and it is common for international guests to play through to the closing of the club, as Fadi has always done at Zouk in the past. Norashman Najib had not been announced as a scheduled DJ last Saturday night.

The club’s statement also said: “Zouk has constantly held our invited artists in esteem and respect their works. We understand that this incident has resulted in some discontent and disappointment but would like to give the assurance that Zouk will continue to value the importance and presence of all artists and our customers, and their interests.”

The Zouk statement failed to dampen the furore among fans of Fadi.

“I think you owe Fadi and your upset guests an apology. Also, what sort of a message are you sending by allowing someone to take over the stage just because he is the son of the Malaysian prime minister? Sorry, this is disappointing,” one commentator wrote on the Zouk Facebook page.

Twitter reaction (in English) to the incident

In a statement posted on the Aly & Fila Facebook page, Fadi stated that he had been introduced to Norashman Najib in the club’s VIP area when he arrived for his performance. After he had been performing for two hours, Fadi said a club official asked if he would be willing to share the DJ booth with Norashman Najib. When he refused, he was asked to leave the booth, but first took to the microphone to explain the situation.

“I did what I did to defend my rights as a human being, not as a famous DJ or whatever. I was insulted and I reacted. I didn’t expect that it would go viral like that, but this is what I call karma. 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,” Fadi wrote.

Aly & Fila have been voted among the top 100 DJs on the DJ Mag list since 2008 and were ranked No 42 last year.