Malaysian artistes fear curbs in opposition-ruled states

March 28th, 2008 - 4:48 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 28 (IANS) The Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan) has expressed fear for the local arts and entertainment industry following the formation of new governments in five states by opposition parties perceived as conservative. Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadalan Rakyat (PKR) and the Islamist party PAS wrested control of five states in this month’s general election, also winning an unprecedented 82 seats in parliament.

“We are very apprehensive that the same restrictions in PAS-led Kelantan might apply to the four other states where the party is part of a loose DAP-PKR-PAS coalition,” Karyawan president Freddie Fernandez said.

Already ruled by PAS, Kelantan state has been notorious for initiating controversial rulings since the party took over 18 years ago, The Star newspaper reported Friday.

Entertainment spots like bars, dance clubs and karaoke joints and concerts, gambling and alcohol have been deemed unhealthy.

Female retail and restaurant workers have to follow strict dress codes - the headscarf is mandatory for Muslims, and cleavage and navel-baring clothing is not allowed for even non-Muslims.

“We all know Kelantan is very restrictive in terms of entertainment. Concert promoters have not bothered to go there since PAS took over,” Fernandez said.

“People and the performers used to look at it as just one state. But now, we have two or maybe three states with PAS at the forefront. This worries us,” he added.

Kelantan, he said, posed limitations for artistes intending to meet fans and to promote their albums.

“There may be serious repercussions for the country’s arts and entertainment industry if similar restrictions are imposed in the other states,” he added.

Fernandez said the association hoped to meet the state leaders for a dialogue to ensure the right steps are taken to allow entertainment to go on.

“We want to convince them that there are concerts and performances that can be well managed and run, even without strict restrictions being imposed,” he said, adding that Kelantan’s gender segregation concerts were impractical.

Two years ago, Kelantan lifted a 16-year ban on pop concerts and invited local celebrities to perform. But the audiences were segregated on gender lines. Families, however, were allowed to sit together.

“We will have to have three categories - women, men and families. This will limit communication between the artistes and fans. It will not be enjoyable,” Fernandez said.

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