Several prominent entertainment industry figures are up in arms over the torrent of criticisms against their colleagues for speaking up about current affairs.

Yesterday, several Umno figures had attacked popular jazz singer Sheila Majid for complaining about cost-of-living issues online.

For award-winning actress and singer Adibah Noor, the reactions have made it seem like some believe that entertainers have no say at all.

“When the artistes speak up, they will use the same ‘template’ to hentam (bash) them repeatedly,” Adibah wrote on Twitter today.

The modus operandi, she said, includes applying the “pro-opposition” label on the artistes, accusing them of speaking without having the requisite expertise and accusing them of trying to seek cheap publicity.

“This, and more. It is as though ‘artistes’ have no right to say anything,” Adibah wrote.

We’re taxpayers, too

After Adibah’s series of tweets, actress Sharifah Amani responded by voicing her disapproval of the seige mentality adopted by some.

“This whole ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ thing has to stop, lah. We are tax paying citizens. We have our rights.

“We should be able to speak and stand up for our beloved country, regardless of what we do. #KamiAnakMalaysia,” Sharifah posted on Twitter.

Similarly, TV host Daphne Iking (photo) came to Sheila’s defence and said the latter had a right to express herself.

“Sheila has every right to speak her mind, as you have your right to cast that vote.

“If you are happy or unhappy with the current administration, make that vote count,” Daphne said on Twitter yesterday.

On Tuesday, Sheila landed in the national spotlight after she tweeted about runaway inflation, unemployment and the depreciation of the ringgit.

She also suggested that Malaysians are angry for having to deal with a “debt” that they had no part in creating.

At the time of writing, Sheila’s tweet had been retweeted 24,106 times and garnered 14,265 “likes”.

Hot topic at Umno AGM

Adibah, who played the lead in the Singaporean film ‘Fundamentally Happy’ which was banned in Malaysia last year, did not mention Sheila specifically or name her critics.

However, it was a clear reference to the latter singer’s comment, which came in the thick of Umno’s final annual general meeting before the next general election.

The veteran singer’s remarks sparked a backlash from Umno delegates, with Umno information chief Annuar Musa claiming economics was not Sheila’s forte and she had purportedly got her facts wrong.

“This is not her expertise. If she wants to talk about the high cost of living, a rubber tapper can do that too,” Annuar said in his response the next day.

Others also condemned Sheila, ranging from telling her to “go to hell” to cautioning her outspokenness as others look up to celebrities and may believe what she says against the government.

“Well… you know what? Many of the netizens who read (Sheila’s comments) are those in the know and registered voters,” Adibah tweeted.

One of her followers tweeted in response, quipping, “People make it like celebrities are not Malaysians, too.”

Malaysians have been complaining of the rising costs of living amidst the ringgit faring its worst in decades, made worse by the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and soaring fuel prices.

In addition, US authorities also launched the largest case in their kleptocracy crackdown against money claimed to have been laundered using funds allegedly originating from debt-ridden 1MDB, followed by a criminal probe on the same matter.

– M’kini