Entertainers' dilemma

By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

The controversies surrounding Psy's appearance at Barisan Nasional's CNY gathering continue, with the Korean entertainer's agent clarifying that the YouTube sensation had no deals with the Malaysian government nor received any reward from it.

To guard off possible backlash, even the agents of our locally bred artistes have rushed to demonstrate their refusal to accept invitations from political parties during such a politically sensitive period of time.

The show business should be an entitlement to all people that has nothing much to do with politics in its essence. Nevertheless, as politics is very much a matter of all people, entertainment could hardly escape the manipulative hands of politics.

The moment politics starts to poke a finger into anything, things could instantly become sensitive. International artistes aside, anyone in the street or even foreign workers could become a chessman in the hands of politicians without they themselves realising it.

Political endorsements by performers are nothing new in other countries. In Taiwan, for instance, many renowned artistes are known to have endorsed their candidates of choice during election campaigns.

On the home front, artistes performing during election campaigns are not a novelty. However, having braced the political tsunami in 2008, this thing has suddenly become excessively politicised and sensitive. Several local Chinese singers in the likes of Michael Wong, Rynn Lim and Nicholas Teo all found themselves targets of public wrath after performing in BN's show during the Sarawak state election two years ago.

Thanks to the precedents of Michael, Nicholas and more recently Psy, Malaysian artistes have tried hard to steer clear of politics. There are fans who argue that performing in a show organised by a political party should not be seen as the artistes' affiliation with the party. Both the audience and voters should look at this matter with a rational mind frame instead of putting political tags on the entertainers.

As a matter of fact, how many sober-minded voters will change their political affinity just because of a few songs performed by their favourite singers?

Unfortunately things don't always operate this way during such a politically sensitive time. If a singer tries to protrude his neutral stand and accepts invitations from the opposing camps, he or she may very likely end up nowhere.

Personally I have nothing against entertainers performing in a political event. However, I feel that the artistes must first come to appreciate our political reality and weigh the pros and cons before jumping into the boat.

There is a price to pay performing in a political event. If you truly identify yourself with a party's ideologies and think it's worthwhile taking the risk, then go for it by all means and openly express your support for the party.

The thing is, you have to be willing to pay the price for your political belief, and fearlessly face the reprimands, criticisms and even boycotts from fans who hold very different political views from you.