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Black and Emelda (right)
Black and Emelda (right)

KUALA LUMPUR: The 28-day Movement Control Order (MCO) has hit artistes hard, and many have been unable to settle their bills or meet their household expenditures.

Singer-actor Black or Hanifah Hanafiah said in a news report yesterday that the "rice bowls" of many artistes had been jeopardised, and he hoped that the government would give them specific financial assistance to meet the challenges of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

“I hope that the government will assist we entertainers who have all contributed to the economy. The pandemic has resulted in many of us facing difficulties meeting our monthly utility bills and daily expenditures, because many of us have been unable to earn an income due to the MCO. Concerts and TV programmes have all been scrapped or postponed,” said Black, adding that he was fortunate to have saved money for his family.

Black's 4G Concert with fellow singers Akim Ahmad, Tomok and Hazama Azmi at Istana Budaya on April 17 and 18 has been postponed, and his plan to spend Ramadan and Hari Raya in Langkawi has been scrapped.

Producer and director Shuhaimi Lua of Tanah Beris Film Production Sdn Bhd also urged the government to help the showbiz industry, especially members of film and TV production crews.

"There's an urgent need for an economic assistance package to help the industry, because all of us have been hit hard. A lot needs to be done, but for now I'm glad that the Professional Film Workers' Association of Malaysia (Profima) and Film Directors' Association of Malaysia (FDAM) have had donation drives to assist needy members, purchasing and distributing basic necessities for them," he said.

Actress Emelda Rosmila also urged the government to assist artistes and film crews. In an Instagram post, she said: "We've all had to stop filming, and we're without jobs and salaries. We've been clocking in 18 hours a day, and are struggling to meet our families' daily expenditures. I hope the government lends a helping hand fast."

Persatuan Seniman Malaysia (Seniman) president Rozaidi Jamil or Zed Zaidi, in a statement today, said that his association had urged the government to come up with a special assistance plan for the entertainment industry.

Zed said: "Seniman has suggested that the government come up with Covid Seni 2020, a special plan to help Malaysian artistes. It would be good that we get RM500 to RM1,000 for the MCO period via electronic fund transfers, so that we can better meet our daily household expenses."

He also suggested that production companies receive RM1,000 to RM3,000 as part of an industry losses scheme, as many of these companies have had to postpone or cancel their projects.

"It would be good for artistes to have shopping vouchers, guaranteed by the government, with the cooperation of all major supermarket and mini market chains. Free screening for Covid-19 at all hospitals would also be good," he said.

Zed suggested that the government and associations involving the industry work closely to disseminate information on the pandemic more effectively.

"Last but not least, there should be special assistance to all artistes and industry workers who do not have Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) accounts. Assistance of RM1,000 a month for six months would be great."

Zed announced that Seniman was currently distributing basic necessities such as rice and cooking oil for its members. The Seniman Initiative Programme began today and ends on Tuesday.

Malaysian Artistes' Association (Karyawan) president Datuk Freddie Fernandez said that his association was having a meeting with Communications and Mutimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to work out aid packages for the creative and arts industry.

"It will cover club and hotel musicians, comedy acts, dancers, buskers and the entire gamut of the arts and creative content industry. We should be able to give more details after the meeting but for now I hope everyone will be patient and wait for the announcement from the government," he said.

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