PETALING JAYA: Terengganu state government's decision to impose gender segregation on event organisers is an "extreme and discriminatory" directive that will paint a bad image of our country, says Wanita MCA.
Its chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie (pic) said cultural and arts performances should not be forced to follow rules which were discriminatory in nature.
"The decision taken by the Terengganu state government to impose gender segregation on event organisers is regrettable as such an extreme and discriminatory directive is sure to paint a bad image of our nation and jeopardise the economy.
"We urge the Terengganu state government to review its decision to ensure that the state’s directives uphold multicultural and moderate values as well as respect for basic human rights and freedom,"she said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 20).
Heng said the 11-point gender segregation guidelines indicated that non-Muslims were not exempted from the guidelines and if enforced, performances by non-Muslims would also be regulated.
This includes forbidding women artistes from performing before male audiences.
Heng said since achieving independence, Malaysians of all races had lived in harmony, with diversity being the nation’s pride and joy.
"This multicultural charm is undeniably an important driving force, which spurred the nation’s development and attracted millions of tourists.
"If these guidelines are passed, the cultural arts performance scene will surely be affected, even to the extent of disrupting our multifaceted lifestyle as well as jeopardise the image of Malaysia as a multi-ethnic country which promotes moderation and upholds the spirit of inclusiveness, unity and harmony.
"The guidelines will thus leave a negative impact on the nation’s tourism and the economy," she said.
Heng said the Terengganu state government should reflect on how its actions could potentially ruin the harmony in society.
Malaysians, she said, should always uphold moderation and respect for basic human rights to build the nation together.
It was reported that the gender segregation guidelines would be enforced soon after the legal technicalities were ironed out.
Terengganu Tourism, Culture, and Information Technology Committee chairman Ariffin Deraman had said that the 11-point guidelines were supposed to be imposed in January but had to be temporarily put on hold.
The guidelines state that male and female audiences should be segregated and that exposing the aurat (parts of the body which should not be exposed) is strictly forbidden.
It also states that only children can participate in “mixed gender” performances on stage.
In 2018, the Terengganu Tourism Department has formulated syariah-compliant guidelines for event organisers.
Ariffin also denied claims that the new guidelines would cause an adverse effect on tourism promotion campaigns in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020.
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