Desmond Tan spills on how he was harassed by male fan for years

The ‘Bluetick’ actor tells us more about how he put an end to the “seven or eight years” of badgering

Desmond Tan spills on how he was harassed by male fan for years
Desmond Tan spills on how he was harassed by male fan for years
11 Sep 2018

Desmond Tan spills on how he was harassed by male fan for years

Video: Charlene Chong

It was a balmy afternoon sometime in May as we found ourselves at the Mount Vernon Sanctuary on a weekend. We were there on a mission – to be exact, we were there to catch the cast of upcoming Toggle Original Bluetick while they were at work, snapping behind-the-scenes shots of them while they were filming.

Among the things on our to-do list was also speaking to the cast members individually, but this was by no means an easy task as the entire cast and crew were bustling around for most of the day, giving us few windows of opportunity to speak to the cast.

After a full day of filming, we managed to catch all the cast members, including local actors Desmond Tan, Ya Hui, Jeffrey Xu, Sheila Sim, along with Hong Kong actors Law Kar-ying, Liu Kai-chi, Bonde Sham, Wong You-nam and Scarlett Wong.

We asked them more about their phone habits – after all, Bluetick is about what happens when a supposedly deceased friend manages to ‘blue tick’ (in other words, read) their messages. We also got them to share if they’ve ever blue ticked anyone, and reveal the strangest phone-related things that have ever happened to them.

Read on for more.

Desmond Tan, the serial won’t-read-your-messages guy
Desmond Tan, the serial won’t-read-your-messages guy
11 Sep 2018

Desmond Tan, the serial won’t-read-your-messages guy

These days, Desmond is so busy that he doesn’t even have time to blue tick anyone, as he admitted with a chuckle, “Usually, when I’m filming, I won’t even look at my phone, so it’s not even a situation where I blue tick someone. It’s more like I don’t even have time to open the message to see what it says!”

Explaining that actors are usually bad at returning messages, the 32-year-old said, “Sometimes, by the time I finish filming and get home, it’ll be after 10pm. It’s a bit too late to reply messages because others might be resting by that time, so I usually prefer to wait until the next day. However, if I start work at 7am the next day, it’ll be too early for me to send a message before I start work, so I’ll wait for the afternoon (lunch break) to reply. That’s why it can take 24 hours for me to respond to texts sometimes.”

Desmond also let on that he saves many of his fellow celebrities’ phone numbers under code names – and for good reason. “Just in case I lose my phone one day and someone manages to access my contacts, at least they won’t be able to figure out their contact information!”

Desmond’s curious tale of unwanted attention
Desmond’s curious tale of unwanted attention
11 Sep 2018

Desmond’s curious tale of unwanted attention

That doesn’t mean that his own privacy has been respected all this time, however, as he let on that he hasn’t changed his phone number since he first got a mobile phone in secondary school.

“When I was in the army, there was this guy who got my phone number. I don’t know how he got it, but after I made my acting debut, he would call me every few days. He’d ask me, ‘You know who I am, right?’ and ask me pretty sensitive questions,” Desmond shared.

He continued, “He would ask me… pretty sensitive things, and I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about, and to stop harassing me. He’s pretty young so he asked me about what I feel about certain issues. I replied him with positive things, but he thought that he stood a chance (with me). This entire thing lasted for many years.”

This back and forth went on for “seven to eight years”, as Desmond explained that he would reply him with “longer messages in the past, but they kept getting shorter and shorter to the point where I wouldn’t even reply him any longer. He would send me messages once every few months, but I wouldn’t reply him.”

There were also a few times when Desmond received calls from unknown numbers, which turned out to be the same person calling him – with different phone numbers. “It was pretty scary (…) I warned him that I would call the police if he kept doing this, but of course, I didn’t want to go to that extent unless he went overboard.”

Ya Hui explains her decreased level of phone activity
Ya Hui explains her decreased level of phone activity
11 Sep 2018

Ya Hui explains her decreased level of phone activity

After Desmond admitted that he isn’t the best at responding at messages, Ya Hui chimed in that she agrees that the actor sometimes takes forever to reply. “It’s not just 24 hours, but sometimes he takes a few days to return your message!” she declared.

However, she sheepishly let on that she doesn’t feel that she has a right to criticise Desmond as she too has seen her response rate fall sharply in recent years.

“When I’m filming, I want to make sure that I’m fully immersed in my role and I don’t want other things to affect me. That’s why I don’t respond to messages when I’m at work,” she shared. “When I was filming Life is Beautiful, I had to wear the fat suit and I wouldn’t reply messages for the entire time I was on set. Some of my close friends asked if I was all right and if I was overseas because I’m usually not that slow in responding.”

Ya Hui tells us about the strange 6am phone calls she’s received
Ya Hui tells us about the strange 6am phone calls she’s received
11 Sep 2018

Ya Hui tells us about the strange 6am phone calls she’s received

After hearing Desmond’s story about the constant harassment from his fan, we asked Ya Hui if she has ever been on the receiving end of any unwanted attention.

After a short moment, she recalled, “I used to receive phone calls really early in the morning, around 6am. Initially, I thought it was my friend. The person on the other end would make really strange noises, and I’d say ‘Cut it out, stop messing around’ because I really thought it was someone I knew.”

However, it didn’t seem to be the case as the sounds got “more and more intense” and Ya Hui finally realised that it wasn’t someone she knew. “I think the person knew who I was, but it was scary because of the weird sounds that he or she was making. They used a voice changer, so I couldn’t tell who it was. I managed to block the caller, and never received such phone calls again.”

Bonde Sham’s determination to “never” blue tick anyone
Bonde Sham’s determination to “never” blue tick anyone
11 Sep 2018

Bonde Sham’s determination to “never” blue tick anyone

While Desmond and Ya Hui have become self-admitted wrongdoers of the dreaded blue tick, Hong Kong actress Bonde Sham made the bold declaration that she will “never” do the same.

She explained with a sigh, “I’ve been on the receiving end of a blue tick before, so I know how terrible it feels, which is why I won’t do it to others! If someone does it to me, I’ll first send a question mark as a follow up message. If they still don’t reply me, I’ll send three question marks, and if I still don’t get a response, I’ll call and ask why they ignored me.”

The old soul shared that compared to being constantly on the phone, she prefers the traditional method of communicating – through letters. “I don’t really use my phone much, and I like writing letters to my friends living in the UK. I feel that using pen and paper is more sincere, which is why I’ll continue communicating with them through this method,” she chuckled. “However, if it’s an urgent matter, I’d have no choice but to use my phone – after all, technology isn’t advanced enough to have our letters teleport straight to its destination!”

Bluetick debuts on Toggle on September 17.

WATCH: Whose phone number did Ya Hui block?

Related:
Desmond Tan endures being dangled off eight-storey building for a day
Wedding bells to ring for Jeffrey Xu and Felicia Chin soon?
Singapore, Hong Kong stars celebrate launch of drama ‘Bluetick’

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