KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 ― Beatrice Leong, the 31-year-old documentary filmmaker who intervened when she saw a man hitting his tudung-clad partner before boarding a flight from Sabah, claimed today that Muslims have been writing in privately to her to defend the man and school her on Islam.
As a result, Leong, whose Facebook post on the Monday incident has since gone viral, said she now plans to remove it.
She told Malay Mail Online that she had never intended to single out Islam, and that she was just outraged that no one had said anything when the assault took place on the aerobridge in the Kota Kinabalu airport, when passengers were boarding a Malindo Air flight from the Sabah capital to Kuala Lumpur.
“Suddenly I have people who are messaging me on my Facebook ― ‘Jangan jaga tepi kain orang’, typical stuff that say I don't understand the Quran,” Leong said in a brief phone interview, referring to the Malay proverb that means “Mind your own business”.
“A lot of them tell me that in the Quran, there is this thing where the husband can discipline the wife. First he can advise her, then refuse to share the matrimonial bed.
“Then if that doesn't work out, then he can lightly tap her, a form of beating, to discipline,” the 31-year-old documentary filmmaker added.
Leong’s post under her Facebook name “Bea Meow” features a picture of a man looking at a woman in red headscarf who is laden with bags and includes her comments on how nobody intervened when the man slapped the woman on her head a few times.
At the time of writing, the post has been shared over 4,000 times and gained more than 7,000 “likes”.
“How can we be so trigger happy [on Facebook], but yet no one said a thing? There were 230 people on the flight and including staff, there were another 10 people. You're in an airport.
“How can the security and staff not be alerted that something's happening? That was the original intention. It was not meant to be about Muslim men,” Leong told Malay Mail Online.
In her Facebook post, Leong wrote that when she told the man off for hitting his partner, two other men told her to keep quiet and to not create trouble.
“Girl looked at me and told me ‘no no it's ok. Sudah biasa takpe masalah sahaja’,” Leong wrote.
Leong told Malay Mail Online that a Malindo Air flight attendant at the door of the plane had witnessed the incident, but allowed the man to board.
“As cabin crew, you'd be alert if there's a commotion before going into the plane. They knew there was a commotion, but no one cares. So I just felt that as airport security, you didn't do a very good job,” she said.
“I was really angry that no one took any action, and I was seen like a crazy woman walking from the aerobridge to my seat,” Leong added.
The filmmaker said the mostly Malay-Muslims who privately messaged her on Facebook have also accused her of not understanding Asian values.
“We do care about our reputation ― it’s not a bad thing, but in situations like that, Asians need to learn to step up and be vocal. Instead of moving conversations on Facebook, why don't you do this in real life?” Leong questioned.
Most of the Facebook users who commented on Leong’s post criticised the man who allegedly hit the woman and spoke out against domestic violence.