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Musicians elsewhere are fully protected, Mr Fernandez

August 6, 2012

FMT LETTER, From Brian in KL, via e-mail

Thank you for your article on the MPO musicians. There were statements made in the report, attributed to Karyawan president Freddie Fernandez that need to be pointed out, and corrected. One in particular is a complete falsehood:

But Fernandez said that FIM’s call for a boycott was too “extreme” and that the union should have tried to understand the true reasons behind MPO’s decision before releasing such a statement.

“I heard that [the musicians’] contracts weren’t renewed, rather than they were sacked.

“These things happen. Musicians who work overseas don’t have permanent basis, they can be terminated at any time,” he pointed out.

Have you done any research into this yourself? You should have: Almost every major orchestra in North/South America and Europe is made up of international musicians.

Vancouver, Canada, for instance has Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Czech, Australian players – and of course locals. Take a look at Berlin, New York, London, Seattle, San Francisco, Montreal, Paris, Valencia, Sao Paolo – and on, and on, and on.

All of these orchestras draw their talent from a large international pool of full-time, professionals. Most of these have stayed with the orchestras for 10, 15, 25 years – many of them, their whole careers.

I’m quite certain, in fact, that if you take a close look at German orchestras, you will find several highly skilled Malaysians playing there. They, themselves, would be horrified to hear Mr Fernandez talking about the music profession in this way. They enjoy the protection of labour laws, as well they should, as highly educated and trained musicians.

“Musicians who work overseas don’t have permanent basis, they can be terminated at any time” remark by Fernandez is absolutely untrue. They are full-time employees of the orchestra and enjoy exactly the same human resources and labour law protection as any other member of the orchestra and the same, for that matter, as any other type of full-time employee in other sectors and businesses.

If Mr Fernandez was indeed an expert on music, he should have known this. Whether you are protecting the interests of local musicians, or just musicians in general, it is essential that you know the facts. He clearly does not.

Also read:

MPO boycott: ‘Country’s image not affected’


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