Saturday, November 6, 2010

Steven Ma - Sonija Kwok Scandal

asianfanatics 287
Posted 20 April 2010

Sneezer: Does any one know why TVB cast and assigned Steven to "7 days isolation" with Sonija when in fact they both are NOT in the best of terms with each other. Wouldn't that likely set tension and less success to the show?

Tamaya: I don’t know but switching on my unsurpassed fertile imagination I came up with the following speculation. Read it with a grain of salt, and don’t ask how I know, I just do.

Obviously, overall, the scandal hurt Steven in more ways than Sonija.  Sonija lost a good friend, but Steven not only lost a good friend but also had his heart broken, trampled and ground through the rumor mills, not to mention his tarnished image and reputation. Steven’s mental anguish, and his humiliation and loss of face at the hands of the media can only be imagined. Both had resolutely vowed never to speak to each other again. But time not only heals but matures a person, too. Some pain may never go away but the passage of time has a way of lessening its potency.

Fast forward to end of 2005 when Steven and Sonija met up for the first time after their scandal to collaborate in Land of Wealth. The press had a field day reporting their awkwardness towards each other. Reportedly, Sonija was more gracious and willing than Steven to have their pictures taken together. “The reporters wanted to snap Sonija and my pictures together; I found that too contrived, so I declined. " Steven was also reported to have said: “Yes, she was more gracious (dai fong) than I in taking pictures together. For me, something just can’t be forgotten that easily.”

I’ve always believed that TVB wanted Steven to eat humble pie so deliberately had him acting as second fiddle to Moses and Sonija, who used to be 2nd leads to his first. If his past scandal with Sonija could spark up some publicity for the series, all the better, but the duo maintained their professionalism and kept their distance from each other.

In between then and now, they have collaborated several times. 1) They collaborated as performing guests in New Zealand Singing Competition final, 2) they collaborated on the stage show, her Ophelia to his Hamlet, for 6 days, 3)they flew to Malaysia for some promotional event, and 4) they were recently in Singapore for Starhub awards and 5) in 2007 TVB anniversary, Sonija was one of the 4 fadans clinging to his arms. And now they are collaborating as husband and wife in a series. The coincidental collaborations are a bit much. Why?

My speculation on the positive side:
So did someone want them to reconcile so deliberately arranged for them to work in close proximity? As the years passed by and the dust has settled, Sonija may be more amenable to forget their past enmity and forgive Steven for hurting and not believing in her. The most hurtful thing that Steven said of her was to imply that she was so materialistic as to betray their friendship to advance her own self interests and career. That must have had rankled her but her heart was not broken (she had Deric.) unlike Steven’s who thought they were dating at the time.

But Steven is nothing if not obstinate therefore not ready to reconcile – he is a Scorpio after all.  In LOW, he refused to take pictures with Sonija alone.  Reportedly, during Hamlet publicity press conference, on a bathroom break pretext, Steven excused himself from taking photos with just Sonija  and himself.  He would work professionally with Sonija but he was not ready to reconcile. Not just yet. But time is on their side, for 8 years have passed, and Steven has matured in age and mind. Steven is always his own worst critic who is into introspection and, of course, hindsight is 20/20. And he did after all write this line in his book: "Between hate and forget, forget is preferable to hate." So he'd better practice it; what is more therapeutic than to let bygones be bygones.

Steven is now ready to forgive if not forget. Their working together might have caused a crack on their walls originally erected to protect themselves against each other. Each time they worked together, the crack widened a bit and the bottled-up feelings behind the walls were able to sip through. Their strong friendship of yesteryear could not be denied. Steven had to be the one to initiate the talk, since he was the mulish one keeping his distance all these time. (Don’t ask how I know this, just do) Steven has said nobody can make him change his mind unless he is agreeable to it. Anyway, women usually have a softer and more sentimental heart; Sonija had probably regretted hurting Steven so badly years ago. I am glad that Steven has finally pulled out the thorn that had been needling him all those years. Forgiveness is good for the soul. But I’m still keeping a vigilant eye on Sonija! (As if!! )  

But  of course, I am not discounting that my speculation above is all for naught; TVB just wanted to make good use of its available resources, for that's just what artistes are to it.  And since Steven and Sonija were available they had to be utilized as such, nothing to it, just a company's strategy of human resources  allocation. 

Bashful: I think Steven was mad at Sonjia because he was not over her yet but now that he is acting so close to her from the clips I was a little surprised.

Tamaya: Oh, I think Steven is definitely over Sonija way before he got together with Vivian. This is what he said in one of his interviews when asked about his unattached status.

Even though true love has yet to be found, he insists that he will certainly get married one day. “I don’t want to date just yet because I want my heart to be fully cleansed first! Else it will be very unfair to my future partner.”

Steven has a strong sense of right and wrong, good and bad, plus a strong sense of family and filial piety. From interviews, Steven values friendship a lot; once that trust between them is broken there is usually no going back for him and that friend.  (He says as much in  an interview.)

I think Steven kept his distance from Sonija all these years not because he was mad at her per se or was not over her yet as you said but because he did not want to have anything to do with ‘that woman’ (Steven fans’ nickname for Sonija. Hehee!) Like the common saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!” Sonija reportedly said something along this line: Steven Ma is not for me. My standard for boyfriend is much higher!”

In his mind Sonija not only betrayed his trust but his family’s goodwill too. And Steven is a filial son. That she would hand over the photos of their dinner together with Steven's family at his home to tabloids only rubbed in the broken trust to him, and besmirched the memory of that happy family dinner.

I guess at LOW promotional event Steven declined to pose for publicity pictures with Sonija just for tabloid's entertainment when they were in fact not on good terms not because he was still mad at Sonija, but because like he said he found the whole set up too contrived and uncomfortable for him, and he also resented being put on display by the tabloid reporters. His professionalism requires him to do his scenes well with all his partners but does not require him to be put on a show for a gawking audience.

“Be true to oneself" 活出真我 is a slogan everybody’s familiar with, but how many actually did it, or have the courage to do it? “ SM quote

“My attitude towards the “fake masks” has always been to ignore them, and to treat them accordingly. In this circle, if they’re decent, then we’ll be friends. If uncomfortable with them, then I’ll avoid them.”… “…….So all that superficiality will not affect me, true not only in the entertainment circle, but also in life.”
sm quote

So ya, I believe Steven is way over Sonija long time ago. Put yourself in Steven's shoes, won’t you avoid a former friend whom you think has betrayed you? Would you stand beside him smiling prettily (or glowered) at the camera just to appease the public? I guess not! Not because you were still mad at him or haven’t got over him (be it love or hate) but because you just didn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore, or be phony before a camera. Same for Steven because he just couldn’t do it. (not saying Sonija was being phony)

Bashful: You know it took them 8 years to clear up the misunderstanding and now they are like best friends off screen.

Tamaya: If you've read Steven blog entries and his prose essays, then you will know his way of thinking. Steven always emphasizes that life is unpredictable, that life is precious, that life is for living. The recent numerous natural disasters from the tsunami, to earthquakes to famines and to floods only served to drive home the above thinking - that Life is just too short to hold grudges, grudges that may have arisen out of misunderstandings, at that. The 7days partnership is a good way to announce to the world that he is ready to let bygones be bygones. Steven does not do things halfway, (he himself says this) once he made up his mind he will go all out, and in this particular case, to welcome Sonija back into his circle of friends.

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