Wanita MCA national chairperson Datuk Heng Seai Kie said cultural and arts performances should not be forced to follow rules which are discriminatory in nature.
“The decision by the Terengganu 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 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 yesterday.
Heng said the 11-point gender segregation guidelines indicates that non-Muslims are not exempt . Thus if enforced, performances by non-Muslims would also be regulated.
This includes forbidding women artists from performing before male audiences, she added.
Heng said since Merdeka, Malaysians of all races have 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.
“Hence, 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 multiethnic country which promotes moderation and upholds the spirit of inclusiveness, unity and harmony.
“The guidelines will leave a negative impact on the nation’s tourism and the economy,” she added.
Heng said the Terengganu government should consider how its actions can potentially ruin harmony in society.
She added Malaysians should always uphold moderation and respect for basic human rights to build the nation together.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) advocacy and communications officer Tan Heang-Lee said the guideline is yet another attempt of moral policing.
“Instead of micro-managing and meddling in people’s entertainment choices, the state government should instead focus on more critical matters, such as bread and butter issues,” said Tan.
“We are also very concerned that this ruling would affect the livelihoods of women entertainers.”
The Star reported on Wednesday 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 said the 11-point guideline was supposed to be imposed in January but had to be put on hold temporarily.
In Terengganu, male and female audiences should be segregated and exposing the aurat (parts of the body which should not be exposed) is strictly forbidden.
Only children can participate in “mixed gender” performances on stage.
In 2018, the Terengganu Tourism Department formulated syariah-compliant guidelines for event organisers.
Ariffin also denied claims that the new guidelines will cause an adverse effect to tourism promotion campaigns in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020.
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