Wanita MCA urges Terengganu to review decision on gender segregation at events

Heng said cultural and arts performances should not be forced to follow rules which are discriminatory in nature. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Heng said cultural and arts performances should not be forced to follow rules which are discriminatory in nature. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Feb 20 — Wanita MCA today urged the Terengganu state government to review its decision to impose gender segregation on event organisers as such guidelines can compromise Malaysia’s image to the world.

Its chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie called the decision regrettable, as such an “extreme” and discriminatory directive will show Malaysia in a bad light and jeopardise the economy.

She said cultural and arts performances should not be forced to follow rules which are discriminatory in nature.

“We urge the Terengganu government to review its decision, to ensure that the state’s directives uphold multicultural and moderate values, as well as respect for basic human rights and freedom,” said Heng in a statement issued today.

Her statement came following plans by the Terengganu government to impose gender segregation guidelines on event organisers where female entertainers will no longer be allowed to perform before male audiences during shows in the state.

It was reported yesterday that Terengganu Tourism, Culture, and Information Technology Committee chairman Ariffin Deraman said an 11-point guideline would be enforced soon after the legal technicalities have been ironed out.

Heng pointed out that the guideline shows that performances by non-Muslims would also be regulated, which will include forbidding women artistes from performing before male audiences.

Since Merdeka, Heng said Malaysians of all races have lived in harmony, with the country’s diversity being the nation’s pride and joy.

She said this multicultural charm was an important driving force which spurred the nation’s development and attracted millions of tourists.

“If these guidelines are passed, the cultural arts performance scene will surely be affected, even to the extent of disrupting our multifaceted lifestyle as well as jeopardising the image of Malaysia as a multi-ethnic country which promotes moderation and upholds the spirit of inclusiveness, unity and harmony,” said Heng, adding that the guidelines will have a negative impact on the nation’s tourism and economy.

Heng said the Terengganu government should reflect on how its actions could potentially affect Malaysia as a whole.

“We should always uphold moderation and respect for basic human rights, so that we can build this nation together,” she said.

In Terengganu, the government has been enforcing more stringent separation of the sexes for events conducted in the state.

In 2018, the Terengganu Tourism Department formulated the Shariah-compliant guidelines for event organisers.

The east coast state has always been one of Malaysia’s more conservative states.

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