I REFER to the report that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has issued new guidelines on performing artistes and their audience in order to make the entertainment shows comply with Islamic morals.
It’s amazing that in formulating the new rules, Jakim forgot the famous phrase that laughter is the best medicine.
Doctors will testify that going out to relax and enjoy a night out is one of the best ways to reduce stress and live a healthier and higher quality life.
The night entertainment outlets and the TV companies will go out of business if the morality rules are so strict that the entertainers and comedians come to the stage with a straight face.
Our youth would rather stay home to watch a Bollywood movie and see the bossomy actresses on screen than watch a flat chested heavily clothed singer singing only patriotic songs.
The culture and arts of a country cannot be dictated by bureaucracy, least of all the religous officials because as human beings, people enjoy a performance when it stimulates their senses.
They don’t enjoy a show when the performer is not engaged with the audience and neither does the singer or the comedian enjoy his or her act if there is no response from the crowd.
Jakim has to be realistic and realise that life is not all about religion. Its officials should study how the Soviet communists tried to control the minds and private activities of the people and had to give up the thought controls as they were simply destroying the creativity and inventiveness of the young generation, causing the economy to lag behind the progressive Western countries.
They also realised when they made life so boring, the people turned to alcohol, making Russia having the highest number of alcoholics in the world.
Malaysia cannot achieve its National Transformation Programme objective of becoming a high income country by 2020 if we are continually besieged by all these religious restrictions on our personal life.
I appeal to the Government to intervene quickly before these guidelines hit the front page of the New York and London newspapers ridiculing our leaders for bowing to the religious bureaucracy all the time and contradicting the image of the country as a moderate Muslim one.
Malays too are getting embarassed by these pretensions of religious purity in reaction to an incident when a few Malay girls misbehaved on stage with K-Pop singers. You don’t let loose an elephant to kill a few mice.
I would advise our performers and comedians to continue doing their entertainment as naturally as befit their styles and skills so that they can entertain and make a living from their noble profession.
The Star April 21, 2015