IPOH, March 15 — Perak DAP publicity secretary Chong Zhemin has joined a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur in urging the Kelantan state government to lift the ban on shadow puppet theatre wayang kulit and Mak Yong.
The Keranji state assemblyman said the ban on these cultural performances only goes to show that the PAS-led Kelantan government is intolerant against multi-religious and multi-cultural practices.
“The wayang kulit and Mak Yong are one of the oldest cultural performances in the world and should be celebrated, preserved and appreciated. It should be passed on to future generations,” he said in a statement.
Chong said even though the Kelantan state government had previously said that the wayang kulit and Mak Yong performances can be held in other states, he questioned if the current alliance between Umno and PAS, would lead to the ban extended in states where the two parties hold majority seats.
“The Umno-PAS-MCA and MIC alliance is a threat to a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia.”
“If MCA and MIC failed to stand up against Umno in the past 61 years for its domineering and dictating national policies, it is almost certain that MCA and MIC, at their weakest point in now history, will again bow to Umno and PAS extreme and intolerant demands,” he added.
United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Karima Bennoune was recently reported as urging the Kelantan state government to lift the ban on Mak Yong, wayang kulit, and other traditional Malay art forms.
Mak Yong was previously proclaimed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2005, as a last-ditch bid to save it.
Mak Yong had been performed in the region for nearly a millennium, and historians believe it was brought to Kelantan around 200 years ago.
A performance entails dancing, acting, and singing ― telling stories dating back to the Srivijaya Empire in the 7th century, and the times of the legendary Kelantan queen Che Siti Wan Kembang who was believed to have ruled between the 14th and 16th century.
The ban was officially codified in 1998 with the Entertainment and Places of Entertainment Control Enactment passed by the state assembly that year, which also prohibits other local traditional performances such as Menora, Wayang Kulit, and Main Puteri which were deemed “un-Islamic.”.
Mak Yong had traditionally been performed by troupes specific to each locality but is now mostly performed in a more puritan version by state-sanctioned arts groups.