KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Kelantan PAS Youth delivered a memorandum of protest last week against the opening of the first cinema in the east coast state since Islamist PAS took over in 1990, but it is unclear what exactly it is rallying against.
The protest was ostensibly against Paragon Cinema which was supposed to open this month at the KB Mall in Kota Baru, but the cineplex’s launch is still on hold as its operators await licence approval from the local municipal council and the Kelantan state government.
However, the PAS-led government has denied receiving any licence application from any cinema operators so far, despite a posting on the mall’s official Facebook page claiming that Paragon’s doors will open this month.
“There has been no application made at all as of this moment,” Kelantan’s local government, housing, youth and sports committee chairman Datuk Abdul Fattah Mahmood told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
He however refused to comment when asked about the status of Paragon Cinema, which was reportedly nearly completed.
“That I cannot comment on, what I have said in my statement has been consistent enough,” Abdul Fattah added.
KB Mall’s leasing executive Mohd Ashrul confirmed the plan to open a cinema is still in the pipelines, but said an opening date has yet to be set as no licence has been issued so far.
“The construction is still on-going. There is no actual date on the opening yet,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
When asked for elaboration on the licence application, Mohd Ashrul revealed that the mall is still negotiating with Paragon Cinema’s top management about adhering to the strict restrictions set by Kelantan.
“About the licence, we are still negotiating on the application details. We are waiting for an answer from the top management,” he added, but refused to confirm whether an application has been lodged.
Since PAS took over Kelantan in 1990, several cinema outlets including Rex, Odeon and Lido were closed down as they did not adhere to the Entertainment Control Enactment 1998.
PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, who is also Kelantan deputy mentri besar, told The Star yesterday that the state is willing to consider the return of cinemas, even after the staunch protest from PAS Youth wing.
Mohd Amar said however cinema operators would still be subjected to stricter guidelines which include gender-segregated seatings and restricted screenings during Muslim daily prayer times.
The Paragon Cinema complex, said to offer eight screening halls, stoked the excitement of Kelantan folks after its opening was announced on KB Mall’s Facebook page. The Facebook post has since been deleted.
According to Mohd Ashrul, the cinema is a joint-venture between the mall operators and an outside investor looking to open the first cinema there, where entertainment outlets are a thorny topic.
PAS Kelantan Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, who led the protest against Paragon, told Malay Mail Online today he was afraid the opening of cinemas would cause the state government to deviate from its strict rulings on entertainment outlets.
“We asked for the government to be stricter with the enforcement of the enactment if they are going to allow it.
“We are worried that it won’t follow the enactment at all and this might lead to problems in the future,” Ahmad Fadhli said.