MALAYSIAN artistes have every right to speak up on issues concerning the nation as they are also citizens with democratic rights, said the Association of Malaysian Artistes (Seniman).
Seniman president Zed Zaidi said popular singer Sheila Majid and TV host Aznil Nawawi should not be censured for their recent statements on the economy and the problems faced by the people due to the rising cost of living.
“Artistes also have a right to voice out. Many comments and opinions are out there because of social media,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
“During the 1997-1998 economic downturn, there were also complaints, but back then, there was no social media.
However, the actor expressed his disagreement with Sheila’s assessment of the country’s economy.
“We have to understand that our leaders are looking for a formula to help the people and the artistes who are affected by the economic downturn.
“So, we have to be patient and trust (them).”
Sheila, dubbed Malaysia’s “jazz queen”, recently took to Twitter to express her unhappiness at the country’s economic state.
The singer of Sinaran and Lagenda, however, did not name any particular political party in her tweet.
“Food is expensive, ringgit is weak, cost of living is high and jobs are scarce. Malaysians are becoming tired and angry for being squeezed over debts we did not create.
“Stop making excuses and looking for faults. Focus on the job of getting our country back on track! Disappointing,” she tweeted.
Fellow singer Zainal Abidin agreed with Sheila, saying struggling artistes had been badly hit by the high cost of living.
“We have to pay the goods and services tax, toll and insurance, road tax and parking fees. We also have to pay income tax.
“For Budget 2018, did we hear anything for the artiste community? So, how are we supposed to support (the government) when they don’t support us?
“My message to the ruling party is, if you want to be loved, you have to love. To other artistes, before you vote, find someone who really looks after you, and not uses you.
“Choose the one who helps and brings dignity to the creative and entertainment industry,” said the veteran singer.
Lyricist Hasmi Hashim said the voice of artistes regarding the rising cost of living echoed that of the people.
“Artistes have the right to speak out on behalf of the people, and they are big influencers.
“I would prefer that they voice out the grouses of the people without being trapped in the games of any particular political party.
“Artistes voicing out shows that there is a healthy democratic space, as before this, the space was narrow,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT