Karyawan sends SOS to Putrajaya to restart entertainment


Freddie Fernandez says tens of thousands of people in the events and entertainment industry have been brought to their knees as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Artistes’ Association (Karyawan) has relayed a distress signal to the government to restart the entertainment industry battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Karyawan president Freddie Fernandez said an appeal letter to Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri on May 18 requested that the National Security Council allow all players in the sector to operate under stringent safety conditions.

He said the stakeholders included artistes, musicians, sound and lighting equipment suppliers, clubs, hotels and promoters.

Freddie said even a partial opening would put many back to work after suffering zero income for more than two months, citing the case of buskers, low-income performers including the blind, who have no other means of earning a living.

”It would be helpful if some leeway could be granted to the buskers to operate on a limited basis,” he said.

”We understand that any reopening would have to be done in a controlled and regulated environment with the necessary SOP in place to ensure the safety of all concerned” he added.

He said tens of thousands of people in the events and entertainment industry have been brought to their knees since the movement control order came into force on March 18, forcing the closure of entertainment outlets, theatres, hotels and restaurants and the cancellations of events.

Freddie said the 7,000 members of Karyawan – singers, musicians, actors and entertainers – have been jobless over the past three months.

”Taking an average income of RM3,000, the collective losses amount to a whooping RM21 million.

”Throw in all related businesses like clubs, hotels and restaurants and the losses run into the billions,” he said.

Freddie said the events and entertainment industry also provided a huge number of jobs indirectly through allied sectors like food and beverage, hospitality, tourism, advertising and marketing.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Karyawan has sought the help of the Multimedia and Communications Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah and the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri.

Freddie said a sympathetic Saifuddin included members of the arts fraternity under the Bantuan Prihatin Negara (BPN) under which they would receive between RM1,000 to RM1,600 in financial aid.

Saifuddin also organised financial assistance for those critically in need of immediate assistance through Finas to various film associations and Karyawan, he added.

He said upon Karyawan’ appeal, Nancy also provided funds to assist those in dire straits.

He expressed gratitude to charitable organisations such as Food Aid and the One Belt One Road Association who came forward with food supplies, masks and other essential items.

”Being an organisation with more than 7,000 members, we knew we could not possibly help everyone, so we had to prioritise those in desperate need of help,” he said.

This morning, Karyawan members and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture staff will distribute food packs and face masks to entertainers in various places in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur as part of the Aidilfitri celebration.



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