Why are dinosaurs championing the arts?

By Erna Mahyuni
Jun 15, 2011

JUNE 15 — As anyone in the arts will tell you, the government has consistently failed both the arts and its practitioners.

Take the recent debacle involving Artistes Day 2011, where Bernama reported Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim bemoaning the lacklustre response of arts practitioners.

Bernama had initially reported the celebration cost RM100 million, when in actual fact it had only cost RM97,800. DAP was only too happy to use the issue for political traction when, frankly, the party couldn’t give a toss about the arts either. Posturing on both sides and who benefits? It definitely isn’t the arts.

Now, some of you would probably start the usual hue-and-cry about where the money could have been better spent on non-arts related expenditure. Schools, roads, healthcare and the like. I respectfully disagree.

The arts have, in recent years, become but the poor cousin to science and technology. We push our children ever forward on the march to some “knowledge economy”, hoping they’ll end up in high-paying jobs we can boast to our neighbours about.

Sadly, in this country, the people we elect to promote and preserve the arts clearly do not understand what they are doing. With all due respect to Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Artistes Day is a sheer waste of money.

What about funding bodies like Aswara that provide the much needed training for artistes?

The finest actors in Britain and the United Kingdom are trained actors, who went to university to study the nuances of their craft. Unfortunately in Malaysia, most actors in television and film are trained on-the-job and not very well, at that.

Besides the blatant misuse of funds clearly earmarked to improve the industry, government interference in creative expression is also a problem.

Stop telling artists what they can and cannot be creative about. The very nature of creativity requires freedom and what theatre practitioners call a “safe space.” Malaysia is certainly not a safe space.

Before a play can even be put on stage, the script has to be vetted by, of all people, the local council. If it were up to the government it seems, theatre would be filled with nothing but inoffensive, politically correct tripe.

We are not allowed to create anything offensive, too sensitive, potentially harmful to Islamic religious beliefs, anti-government… we might as well live in fish bowls.

Whether song, dance, film, documentaries, theatre, visual arts, the creative field and the arts deserve respect and acknowledgement. The people who preserve our legacies and history through various mediums are doing us a service and those who have talent in those fields are no less vital in the workforce.

Without the arts, life would not be worth living. The arts celebrate beauty and the higher instincts of mankind. Do we really want to live in a world filled only with accountants, engineers and doctors?

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - 12:48 pm

    That is why Putrajaya is such a dead, boring place, devoid of anything creative in every aspect. The Ministers concerned are indeed dinosaurs earning buta gaji.

    There is no life there but they do have a lot of cesspools, which is sometimes called ‘laboratories’.

  2. #2 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - 2:50 pm

    Having a CAPTAIN CAVEMAN as Minister of Culture, Malaysians can expect to move back to the Stone Age by 2020! So, TDM’s Wawasan 2020 has just gone down the drain!

  3. #3 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 - 5:15 pm

    In this country we arrest true artiste like zunar and award con-artiste in umno, BN and that interlok book guy.

    very refreshing.

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