The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) recently became the target of hatred and animosity after imposing limitations on stage performances, dress and behaviour codes, and gender segregation for attendees.

According to a report by MMO, entertainers coming to Malaysia must adhere to the new rules that include:

  • An artiste should not have a criminal record, whether in a Shariah or civil court
  • An artiste should maintain a “noble personality” and “good morals”, even outside the performance.
  • An artiste must “dress decently” in attire that covers their “aurat”, which refers to the “intimate body parts” that Muslims must cover with clothing.

The rules immediately elicited negative responses from the public, regardless of race and religion.

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On 19th April (Sunday), Irish pop rock band The Script arrived in Malaysia for their concert at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam. The concert was brought to fans by PR Worldwide and it was the first concert being held after JAKIM set the new entertainment guidelines. Thus, PR Worldwide director R. Para and 3 other industry players from the Arts, Life and Events Association (ALIFE) held a mini press conference to voice their concerns over the matter.

LOL Events Sdn Bhd CEO Rizal Kamal, who recently held the Russell Peters “Almost Famous World Tour” at Stadium Malawati, revealed that he felt that the people in Malaysia “do need entertainment and events because it shows the world that we are a progressive country”. As such, the new guidelines gave them a shock because they will “impact the industry and Malaysia as a whole”.

Concert Promoters and Organisers Voice Concerns Over JAKIM New Entertainment Rules

Livescape Group CEO Iqbal Ameer attended the press conference as well.

He said:

I think one thing that people failed to remember was that we are the promoters. So, as promoters, what we do is that we provide the platform for the artistes to display or showcase their art. Maybe a comedian, a musician, a pop star, a boy band, or even a DJ. We provide that platform because people want to see it. These are the things you get on the radio and on TV. We are just giving you the experience to watch that live. Instead of us working together to enhance the experience, address any issue that people may have, and move forward, we are going backwards by people who have not set out to have an open dialogue with us. We were shocked because we didn’t even know about it, which is really upsetting.

He also mentioned that “the concert promoters are being passionate at what they do” as “they went through hell to try and put on the shows.”

He added, “If something like this were to actually go through and is in actual ruling, that’s the final nail in the coffin for the entertainment industry here.

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The other concert promoters, including JS Concert director Susan Tan, nodded in agreement with Iqbal’s statement.

Susan, whose company is set to hold the “Live Spectacle: Naruto” live action musical this May, said:

When I first heard about the news, I thought it was a joke. It’s unbelievable, I cannot believe JAKIM came up with rules like that. If they’re going to implement this, it’s not good for our industry. I think Malaysia should be seen as a moderate Islamic country because we can be radical. The rules will have a ripple effect because investors will not dare to come to Malaysia too. No artistes or musicians will want to come to Malaysia to perform if they were asked to “tutup aurat”. Can you imagine asking Justin Bieber to “tutup aurat”? It’s impossible. We have to stand united and fight against this.

She added, “We are doing businesses here. It’s a multibillion dollar business so they can’t just set rules like that. Since we are in an entertainment industry, we have to voice our concerns because the rules are affecting our future.

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From a live event to YouTube to the Internet, Rizal said that there are so many choices for us to consume. Thus, he added that “putting restrictions in every one of those avenues will just bring negative impacts to the entertainment industry and everyone else”.

He further stated:

As a Muslim, I understand where Jakim is coming from. We were taught by Islamic studies since we were kids, so these are the Islamic ways of doing things. But it all depends on what do you want from Malaysia and how we want people to see Malaysia. But the rule that affects me the most is the fact that we can’t have “extreme laughter.”

Iqbal then added that Jakim was actually “undermining the public’s intelligence” when they set the guidelines.

Para also said, “A lot of times when we approached the members of JAKIM, they just ignore us. They should just come to us and come up with a solution that both participants can accept.

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Meanwhile, ALIFE has also released an official statement regarding the guidelines issued by Jakim.

ALIFE President Datuk Razlan Razali also expressed his shock at it because “it would affect various live events” if the guidelines by JAKIM were enforced. Since arts, festival, and events were geared towards contributing RM30 billion to the nation’s economy, the association said “the government’s vision versus what is happening or being implemented on ground is not in sync”.

(Featured image: Tiqiq)