By Juliana June Rasul
IT WAS an event meant to foster tolerance, friendship, love and respect.
But the aftermath of the Kings of Freedom community outreach concert at Bedok Reservoir Park last Friday night suggested quite the opposite.
A war of words was ignited by a tweet from the event's emcee, local musician Sheikh Haikel, about Korean boy band U-KISS.
It then escalated into an "international incident" over the weekend.
"UKISS" hit the Twitter trending charts for three days, thanks to the group's followers - most of whom wanted to know what Haikel meant by writing "U-Kiss my a**" and calling their idols a "bunch of s*** stabbers".
In subsequent posts on his Twitter profile on Sunday, Haikel, 35, suggested that he had a run-in with the seven boys and their manager backstage before the guys performed for the 3,000-strong crowd at the open-air event.
Addressing U-KISS fans, who had come out in droves on Twitter seeking an expalanation for his tweet, Haikel responded: "I don't want to say what u-kiss did to me. Great show. Bad people."
He continued: "Usually you don't treat the MC of the show like ****. You in my house and I am introducing you to my people."
When asked by one fan if he had been bullied, Haikel replied: "Yes & worst (sic)."
For the fans
He also suggested that the boys had shown some diva-like attitude, tweeting: "There was even a threat not to appear and so I complied just for the u-kiss fans."
But Miss Gail Chan, 22, a project executive with Red Spade Entertainment, which was in charge of bringing in U-KISS, said there were no problems with the band.
She also did not recall seeing the boys interact with anyone else when they arrived at the event.
"They arrived five minutes before they were supposed to go on but stayed in the vanduring that time, because they're not used to the weather," she said.
They went "straight to the stage from the van" and then back to the van again after their 30-minute show, to drive straight to the airport.
The boys had taken the stage around 9pm, and were due to catch a flight back to Korea at 11.50pm.
The Kings of Freedom event, which began around 6pm on Friday, also featured performances from local acts like Stella Story and students from Temasek Polytechnic.
If indeed tempers had flared, were the U-KISS boys perhaps suffering from our relentless Singapore heat?
Fan Jethro Lim, 15, who was at the event, said he saw one U-KISS member, Shin Dongho, looking like he was about to faint on stage after the group sang its first song.
"Eli (Kim, another U-KISS member) had to catch him," he said. "They looked like they were having problems with the weather."
But, he said, the boys soldiered on with their five-song set.
"The atmosphere was good," said Jethro. "It was rumoured that they were going to sing six songs, but in the end, they kept it to only five, and there was no encore. But we heard they had a flight to catch."
Although Haikel declined comment, he did take to his Twitter account again yesterday afternoon - this time to personally send a tweet to U-KISS member Alexander L. Eusebio that read: "Yo bro, I'm really sorry for what has happen. Just wanna let you know if you ever come to S'pore, I got u."(sic) Eusebio replied almost immediately: "No problem! I know ur a nice guy. Sorry for any misunderstandings or if our staff made any mistakes. Please don't mind~"
Haikel even offered to show U-KISS "a good time" if the band ever returned to Singapore.
He added: "Just us boys, without our managers."
Jethro thinks the war of words was "unnecessary" in the first place.
"I think if Sheikh Haikel had wanted to complain about something, he could have done so through an official statement, not say what he said on Twitter," he said.But now that the wounds between Haikel and U-KISS have been healed, previously irate fans have also seemed to back down.
One of them had e-mailed The New Paper on Monday to complain about Haikel's lack of professionalism.
She wrote: "Many local fans of U-Kiss are insulted. Most of the people who read his tweets are in shock."
But when The New Paper contacted her yesterday, she declined to be named or comment on the issue "because things have been resolved".
This article was first published in The New Paper.