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When celebrities cross the (state) line

Celebrities are expected to set a good example to their followers by adhering closely to procedures and directives set by the government


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Singers, actors, fashion designers and other such celebrities are by design seekers of public attention.

It is understandable that they should bask in the spotlight and public adulation as this does not only bring fame but also fortune and even influence. It is a symbiotic relationship.

The stars are idolised by their fans, who are inspired by what they say and do. People look to them for inspiration and to set an example.

Which is why songstress Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin’s recent actions have been the subject of contentious debate among her fans and the public.

While she’s entitled to hold a tahnik, an Islamic ceremony to celebrate the birth of her second child, the 42-year-old celebrity should have been more circumspect about who she invited for the occasion.

It was reported that de facto religious affairs minister Zulkifli Mohamad was among those invited. He reportedly had to cross state borders to get to Siti’s residence, which was clearly a breach of the Covid restrictions.

That Siti had invited people from out of state to the event disappointed and angered some people, and rightly so.

Of course, those people, particularly a government official who is known to have broken procedures, should have known better than to accept an invitation to an event that involved crossing state lines. Under the Covid restrictions, interstate travel is disallowed, except for emergency and work purposes.

This occurred when the number of infections had spiked, and Muslims faced the possibility of not being able to cross state borders to celebrate Raya.

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People’s frustration, if not anger, is well encapsulated in Unchained Aidilfitri – the Malay rendition of the evergreen Unchained Melody that mocked the double standards in the enforcement of the Covid-prevention measures – which went viral on social media.

Similarly, celebrity hijab purveyor Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor, husband and family members were found guilty of violating the measures during her wedding ceremony and collectively ‘compounded’ for a sum of RM60,000.

Incidentally, the RM60,000 compound that Neelofa paid infuriated social media users because it is no comparison to the RM50,000 compound that was slapped on a burger seller in Kelantan for opening beyond the stipulated hour of 10pm. Both obviously come from two contrasting social backgrounds.

Breaching the restrictions, which are supposed to be applied equally to all mortals, can be read as the celebrities concerned abusing their fame and privileges. They are expected to set a good example to their followers by adhering closely to procedures and directives set by the government. They are not to follow the footsteps of other VIPs who have blatantly flouted rules that are meant to combat the Covid virus.

Celebrities are in a position to craft a different narrative that would be useful to the Malaysian public who increasingly crave effective role models in our society. – The Malaysian Insight

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