M'sia state govt takes the bang out of Chinese New Year performances

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Ipoh (The Star/ANN) - In yet another controversial decision, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS)-led government of Kedah state has enforced new rulings for stage performances during Chinese New Year.

The state government will stop Chinese New Year stage performances on the spot if they failed to meet the guidelines.

The state has banned professional female singers in shopping malls and other open public places.

Only male performers are now permitted to sing and dance in shows held in such places. As for female performers, only secondary schoolgirls will be allowed to do so.

But with bands providing live music also barred from open entertainment events, performers can only use recorded music accompaniment or minus-one recordings (pre-recorded music).

Malls and shopping centres have been told that only songs with religious themes or those with positive messages will be allowed to be performed, effectively excluding pop songs.

Besides submitting lists of performers and songs, the organisers must ensure the artistes are not carried away or do not go overboard.

Kedah Health, Youth and Sports, Culture, Art, Heritage and Biotechnology Committee chairman Dr Hamdan Mohamed Khalib issued the directive to Kota Setar district officer Haji Bakar Din on January 9.

First in the four-point guidelines list is a rule that artistes as well as those in charge of the shows must be dressed conservatively and not menjolok mata (indecently).

A copy of the directive was given to Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Dr Chua Soi Lek in Sungei Petani on Friday.

He showed it to reporters after the Perak MCA anniversary celebrations here yesterday.

Dr Chua said the guidelines violated the rights and freedom of non-Muslims.

He said the Democratic Action Party (DAP), as part of Pakatan Rakyat and being an ally of PAS, owed non-Muslims an answer to this latest violation.

"This is because DAP helped PAS take over Kedah. Is the DAP saying again that this is a small matter?" he asked.

He said non-Muslims had their rights and freedom over food, attire, music, entertainment and leisure.

MCA vice-president Chor Chee Heung said non-Muslims could lose their identity under such policies.

"If non-Muslims continue to accept these, then all things Chinese and Indian, including their culture, could be lost if Pakatan continues to run the state," said the Alor Setar MP.

Chor said an agreement to such regulations would spell the end of a pluralistic society.

He added that such guidelines were never imposed in Kedah until the Pakatan government took over.

Gerakan also slammed the Kedah government for its "restrictive" policy on Chinese New Year entertainment activities.

State party chairman Dr Cheah Soon Hai said the directive eroded the rights and interests of non-Muslims, adding that the state government was insensitive and disrespectful to the Chinese community.

"Female artistes are being discriminated against as singing and dancing are their sources of income. The guidelines will have far-reaching effects on celebrations like Chap Goh Meh, the Hungry Ghost Festival, the Lantern Festival and Deepavali," he said.

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