KUALA LUMPUR: A United Nations (UN) official has urged the Kelantan government to lift the ban on the “Mak Yong” dance, Wayang Kulit and other traditional artistic Malay art forms.
Karima Bennoune, who is UN’s special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, said it will be a shame if the art forms were left to die, adding that Malaysians especially the Kelantanese would lose a part of their culture.
“Malaysia is reknowned for these wonderful traditional performances and practices… I think it’s a terrible shame that these arts are banned in the state where they were actually born.
“Instead these cultures with rich tradition should be celebrated and appreciated as it is one of the oldest performing arts in the world, thus I hope that the ban will be lifted as soon possible,” she told reporters at the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture Kuala Lumpur 2019 yesterday.
The Kelantan state government has banned cultural performances such as the Mak Yong under the Entertainment and Entertainment Premises Enactment 1998 on grounds that they contain elements that run contrary to Islam, and only allows such shows to be performed in closed venues.
Bennoune said the ban violates the right of Malaysians to enjoy their rich cultural heritage.
“These artistes need support to keep their art form alive and they should also receive some compensation for the ban,” she said.
She said she was pleased that bans on some books had been lifted recently and charges dropped on a prominent cartoonist.
But she said more must be done to guarantee the freedom of artistic expression, saying it was critical to a vibrant cultural democracy.
Karima said Malaysia has wonderful opportunities to develop a plan of freedom for artistic expression throughout the country, and not only in Kelantan.
The 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture Kuala Lumpur 2019, held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from March 11 to 14, is participated by more than 60 countries.