Hirzi apologises for cyberbullying Nicole Choo, years after mocking her with Dee Kosh

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube

Back in 2018, two prominent local social media personalities teamed up to cast some shade on a much younger influencer who had just gotten a book of her poetry published. 

Hirzi Zulkiflie and Darryl Koshy (better known as Dee Kosh) put on costumes and make-up, and reviewed Nicole Choo’s book, Nineteen. It turned out to be less of a constructive literary review and more of a harsh mockery of Choo’s work — one that elicited a lot of views as well as vitriol for Choo, who was then 19 years old. 

While one of the duo is currently laying low due to an ongoing police investigation, the other has seen the error of his ways. Earlier today (Aug 19), Hirzi issued on Facebook a lengthy statement of apology to Choo for the role he played in the videos published under Dee Kosh’s channel. 

His apology was written in response to a post by author Eliza Teoh, the founder of local publisher Bubbly Books, which was behind Choo’s Nineteen. 

Yesterday, Teoh took to her Facebook page to write about her experience dealing with Dee Kosh’s attack on Choo.

“The whole horrible saga started with him posting a YouTube video reading out her work and mocking her looks, her work, degrading her as a person. Nicole was only 19 then. He was 30,” Teoh wrote.

“To this day, I don't know why he, together with another grown man called Hirzi, would dress up as women and mock a teenage girl, using sexual slurs, just for having the audacity to launch a book.”

Teoh also noted how she felt responsible for the hate that Choo received as she was the one who encouraged the teen to publish her book of poems. According to Teoh, the “verbal abuse and sexually-explicit attacks” brought on by the online mob had gotten so bad that Choo had to leave Singapore and stay overseas for a few months as she was in fear for her safety. 

When I learned about this news yesterday, I was shocked and disgusted. Then, I felt bad. Because Dee Kosh had harassed...

Posted by Eliza Teoh on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The publisher also noted that she had been ready to file a police report on behalf of Choo, but the latter told her not to. What she could do, however, was report a copyright infringement offence to YouTube — Dee Kosh and Hirzi was broadcasting and reading out pages off the book. The video was then taken down from Dee Kosh’s channel (but has since been reposted by a netizen on another channel). 

Dee Kosh and Hirzi’s response was to post another video with a mock apology. Dee Kosh went further by naming and shaming Teoh in a video entitled Top 10 Idiots of Singapore in 2018.

”Could I have filed a police report for harassment and doxxing then? Yes, I could have. Thinking back, I should have. But I didn’t,” she wrote. 

‘I take full responsibility’

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube

Having read Teoh’s account, Hirzi made an apology to Choo for all the pain she was put through as a result of his participation in Dee Kosh’s video. 

“I take full ownership and responsibility for the things I said in this video, which was unscripted and spontaneous,” he wrote. 

Though at that time he had some reservations about the offensive things he said in the video, Hirzi admitted that he celebrated the reception it was getting instead of taking heed of the “hurtful content”. He also expressed regret that he and Dee Kosh made a mockery of the apology video after the first one was taken down. 

“She did not just face the careless brunt of our hurtful remarks, but our followers were enabled by our actions. In hindsight, I should’ve used that opportunity to amend my mistake. I was blinded by my ego, failing to see that it was cyberbullying, and how crippling the effects can be,” Hirzi realised. 

Regarding his reaction upon hearing that Choo had to leave the country to escape the aftermath of their video, he stated that he felt “terrible and responsible” that his actions led to her experience. 

In a bid to make things right, Hirzi requested his followers to reach out to her and extend their apologies if they had been part of the mob harassing her. He would also request Dee Kosh to take down their mock apology video and work towards getting the re-uploaded video removed as well. 

”I am sorry Nicole and for hurting you in the process of what I now understand is a tasteless attempt at comedy and ultimately cyberbullying.”