If the Pas MP who criticised public entertainment events is really concerned about the suffering of Malaysians, there are other more meaningful ways for him to express his concern, Mustafa K Anuar writes.
Kuala Krai MP Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman recently criticised organisers and fans of public entertainment events and programmes for being insensitive to the sufferings of Malaysians who have to endure economic hardship brought about by the pandemic.
The rebuke is also underpinned by his religious contention that public entertainment is inimical to Islamic teachings, which explains his reported call for it to be prohibited.
Even if the reprimand is aimed at Malay-Muslims, he’s still wading in troubled waters as entertainment also nourishes non-Muslims’ desire for the arts.
The Pas lawmaker has to take cognisant of the fact that any form of entertainment, like anything else that matters in life, exists and is nurtured in our multi-ethnic and multicultural society. In other words, he should be sensitive to the needs and preferences of the non-Muslims, as well as respect differences found in our diverse society. At times, there is a necessity to strike a compromise.
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It is noteworthy that the entertainment industry is also hit by the pandemic, with musicians, singers, and stage actors and production crew, among others, losing jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Surely, we also need to be sensitive to their plight, and they also deserve financial and other forms of assistance from the government and others who are well endowed.
Like many other concerned humans, artistes are also known to have the sensitivity and capacity in normal times to come together to help people in need. Malaysian bands had organised, for example, charity shows in the past to raise money for the disabled and less-fortunate children just as at the international level, top guns in the music industry had gathered together to raise funds for a good cause, as exemplified by Band Aid for Africa in 1984.
Be that as it may, the supposed sensitivity expressed by the Kuala Krai MP sounds a bit rich coming from a politician whose comrades in Kelantan, particularly the state executive councillors and lawmakers, had no compunction about raising their monthly allowances in the midst of the financial hardship suffered by the less fortunate.
If this is not insensitivity towards the plight of the needy, we don’t know what it really is. Let us not get started with the purchase of Mercedes-Benzes for “official use” by certain politicians.
Some of the ordinary people are so desperate that they regard a withdrawal of a portion of their Employees’ Provident Funds (EPF) savings as a lifesaver, even though it may later adversely affect their retirement.
To give greater weight to his purported sensitivity and deep concern towards the sufferings of the rakyat, Latiff should urge his party comrades and those from other components of the Perikatan Nasional government to give due consideration to a suggested pay cut.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for one, suggested that the 70-strong federal cabinet take a 30% pay cut, while Pandan MP Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail called for a 10% cut for ministers and a 50% cut in allowances and chairperson’s fees for MPs who head government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies.
The savings can be put to good use, particularly to be channelled to the Covid-19 fund.
There is no better time than the present for the lawmakers concerned to give such sensitivity a concrete form.