KOTA BARU: The state government should not obstruct any attempt to hold cultural performances such as mak yong in Kelantan as the local performing arts and heritage have suffered enough.
To ban such performances is a testament to Malays losing their cultural soul and identity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.
Dr Rais said both the state and federal authorities should sit down and discuss to overcome any hindrance in promoting and preserving Kelantans rich cultural heritage.
Under the Federal Constitution, no one can obstruct registered associations or organisations from holding activities without valid reasons, Dr Rais said after visiting Mak Yong Sri Temenggong troupe leader Shaari Abdullahs home here.
On Saturday night, Dr Rais, his wife Datin Seri Masnah Rais and state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Annuar Musa attended a cultural performance at Kampung Bunohan in Tumpat under the ministry-initiated rehabilitation of cultural programme.
They were entertained to performances of dikir barat, menora, mak yong, wayang kulit and traditional dances.
Dr Rais said the country's written laws allowed for such performances and he would encourage them to be held at hotels and public gatherings in Kelantan.
He added that it was the state government that should take the initiative to consult scholars on whether to allow mak yong.
The state government had asserted that the mak yong issue should be referred to Islamic scholars and Dr Rais's presence here was a sign of disrespect.
Dr Rais said his presence was to see first hand the rich culture and performing arts available and that no laws were broken.
He said there must be justification for the banning of certain cultural performances.
Such justification must be through proper channels of law and consultations and not just interpretations, he added.
Let us work together to rebuild our rich culture and performing arts. It is a joint-ownership and culture should not be monopolised by just one party, he said.
Dr Rais also announced that Kelantan's performing arts activists would get a sizeable chunk of this years RM7mil allocation from the ministry.
The ministry will continue to promote mak yong, which is also recognised by Unesco as one of the worlds oldest heritage and performing arts, by offering training and offering degree programmes at the National Arts Academy.
Dr Rais said Kelantan would also get a RM15mil cultural centre which would become a nucleus for rebuilding the performing arts scene.
Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the ministry received around RM700mil to revive, promote and preserve the country's cultural heritage.
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