National Art Gallery says Doraemon to be used as side show, not part of Visit Malaysia campaign

A couple takes a selfie next to Doraemon figures during an exhibition in Seoul August 31, 2015. — Reuters pic
A couple takes a selfie next to Doraemon figures during an exhibition in Seoul August 31, 2015. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — The National Art Gallery denied it was using popular Japanese cartoon character Doraemon as part of its promotion for Visit Malaysia 2020, after the animated feline was photographed during an event for the campaign.

ProjekMMO reported the government agency as saying there would only be a “Doraemon Pop-Up Store” to promote merchandise and souvenirs, instead of an exhibition.

“Balai Seni Negara takes the concerns of the Animasi Malaysia chairman (Ameri Hamzah Hashim) seriously in this matter. We have always prioritised local visual arts, and to uphold the craft of Malaysia artists,” said the agency earlier today.

The National Art Gallery claimed confusion arose following news reports that said it was using Doraemon as the main exhibit, which led to criticism on social media.

“The calendar programme and exhibits for 2020 have already been planned, with interesting content for the National Visual Arts Exhibition, and famous artists who will display locally-themed pieces of art, in support of Visit Malaysia 2020,” it said.

Among those to be featured include Pameran Retrospektif 1964-2003 by renowned cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Mohammad Khalid, popularly known as Lat, Pameran Solo Imuda, and Pameran Lawak Kampus by Gempak Starz.

Last month, several news outlets reported the agency’s chairman Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah as proposing Doraemon-themed cartoons be exhibited in conjunction with the tourism campaign next year.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi issued a statement earlier today denying the ministry agreed with Rashidi’s proposal, adding that it was his own personal view.

The proposal also came under heavy fire from the Malaysian animation industry, most notably from Les’ Copaque Production Sdn Bhd that produces the regionally popular Upin & Ipin animated series.

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