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MB lifts ban on women performers


CONTROVERSIAL GUIDELINES: Mall show can go on but performers must abide by dress code, says Azizan

ALOR STAR: AFTER coming under fire for banning adult women from participating in stage shows, the Pas-led state government has made an about-turn on the controversial ruling.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak yesterday lifted the ban after a directive on the matter, signed by State Arts and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Dr Hamdan Mohamad Khalib, was issued six days ago.

In single page statement, Azizan, when lifting the ban, said event organisers needed only to ensure all male and female performers, regardless of their age, were dressed appropriately or decently.

He said event organisers were allowed to engage any gender in stage shows provided that the performers adhered to the dress code approved by the state government.

When met in Permatang Buluh near here, Azizan confirmed that he had relaxed the directive, which was imposed on City Plaza shopping complex for a charity event to usher in the Chinese New Year next month.

"The dispute has been settled. The event organiser can engage male and female performers. However, all performers must dress appropriately," Azizan said, adding that the state government had also withdrawn a ruling that restricted performers to only perform songs with religious themes and positive advice.

Azizan, who was defensive when responding to questions on the ban from reporters, said the state government wanted to ensure common decency was observed for all public stage performances.

"There have been cases in the past where performers wore revealing outfits and had exposed their armpits and bellies.

"Just because you're not a Muslim, it does not mean that you can dress any way you like. This is not our culture."

Azizan said the guideline was nothing new and blamed the MCA for blowing up the matter.

"There was a case when an organiser cancelled an event after it found it could not observe certain guidelines set out by the authorities. I thank the organiser for it."

When asked on claims by Kedah PKR chairman Datuk Wan Salleh Wan Isa and his DAP counterpart, Lee Guan Aik, that they were in the dark over the ban, Azizan said they were simply ignorant about the guidelines and rulings on stage performances.

MCA had been leading the call, echoed by community leaders, artistes and entertainment companies, for Pas-led Kedah government to review the guidelines forbidding women from appearing in Chinese New Year performances.

The Pas Supporters Club also criticised the guidelines, describing it as an attempt by the party to impose its values on non-Muslims.

DAP assistant publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching had on Monday also criticised the state government.

She described the guidelines as ridiculous, unacceptable and an unwise move.

She urged the state government to respect and uphold the rights of non-Muslims under the Constitution and to allow the people to celebrate their festivals freely.

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