Weekly Southeast Asian Radar: Malaysia reopens theatres; playwright Alfian Sa’at dragged into politics

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:


Theatre venues welcomed the news of being allowed to reopen with much joy and promise to adhere to strict health guidelines to ensure the safety and comfort of their patrons. Photo: DPAC


Malaysian performing arts community relieved that theatres allowed to reopen from July 1
The Star, Malaysia

After going dark for nearly three months, the country’s theatres, performing arts centres and live event spaces alongside cinemas will finally be allowed to reopen from July 1.

Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob made this announcement at his press conference today, stressing that only a maximum of 250 people will be allowed to be in these spaces, subject to the size of the hall.

He also advised the venue operators to adhere to the public health guidelines provided by the government to ensure the safety of the patrons.

This news was welcomed positively by many Malaysian performing arts venue operators.

[Read more…]


Photo: JP/Narabeto Korohama
Opening up cultural data in Indonesia
Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Cultural institutions, creative minds and tech enthusiasts have teamed up to provide integrated data on Indonesian cultures, but problems remain.

The Education and Culture Ministry will set up a data portal that features a range of information in varied forms — text, photos and videos — collected by both the government and private institutions about Indonesia’s diverse array of cultures. The portal is scheduled to be up and running later this year.

With easy public access in mind and cultural advancement as its end goal, the open cultural data will enable the public to use, share and even to modify the information into works of art, stories, educational mobile applications and games.

[Read more…]


Illustration by JL JAVIER. Via CNN Philippines.
Why you should care about heritage markers on historical structures
CNN Philippines

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Remnants of the Philippines’ colonial history are remembered through significant Spanish-era churches, stone houses, monuments, and other historical sites scattered all over the Philippines. These structures are identified by official heritage markers attached on visible areas within their premises. Heritage markers not only bear the cultural and historical significance of a building or space. They also indicate that such structure or area must be preserved and protected from destruction.

As May, National Cultural Heritage Month, comes to a close, it is important to raise awareness on an important aspect of Philippine heritage: what is a heritage marker, and why is it crucial in ensuring the protection and preservation of significant heritage structures?

The inscription of heritage markers on heritage structures can be traced back to the 1970s, when then-President Marcos declared numerous historical and cultural structures as National Cultural Treasures, National Shrines, Monuments and Landmarks. At that time, these heritage markers merely declared the historical and cultural significance of heritage buildings or sites, and provided no other legal implications.

[Read more…]

JOOX Prepares World Music Day Online Festival to Shake off COVID-19 Blues
The Irrawaddy, Myanmar

JOOX, the popular music streaming app in Myanmar, will host its second annual “JOOX World Music Day 2020” under the theme The Sound of Happiness on June 21. It will be broadcast exclusively live on the app.

The online music festival will start at 1pm and it will bring 18 domestic and international artists.

“At JOOX, we are always seeking new ways to provide music fans with ways to enjoy the music they love. As there will also be a surprise program during the event, we’re inviting everyone to transcend physical distance and connect through the power of music, and we encourage viewers to support the pandemic recovery efforts by giving gifts,” said John Zhang, the country manager for JOOX.

[Read more…]


Sanchai Chotirosseranee. Photo via Bangkok Post.
Embracing diversity on the screen
Bangkok Post, Thailand

Thailand and the world have come a long way when it comes to diversity of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression of characters on our screens. On the occasion of Pride Month, Netflix facilitated a talk with filmmaker Chookiat Sakveerakul (Love Of Siam and Dew) and Sanchai Chotirosseranee, deputy director of the Thai Film Archive, where they discussed onscreen representation, visibility and political correctness of today’s LGBTI content.

According to GLAAD’s Where We Are On TV Report 2019, which provides annual analysis on the diversity and inclusion of LGBTI characters on US broadcast networks and streaming services, it was found that Netflix has the highest number of LGBTI characters among streaming services, with 121 characters counted last year. In comparison, Hulu only had 24, while Amazon had eight LGBTI characters. As a result, GLAAD called on the entertainment industry to include more LGBTI characters regularly to better reflect reality to audiences.

[Read more…]


Photo via Vulcan Post
GE 2020: How Alfian Sa’at Became The Epicentre Of A PAP-WP Political Spat
Vulcan Post

Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at has been accused, yet again, of being a “pro-Malaysia activist” by the People’s Action Party (PAP).

On June 19, Jurong GRC MP Dr Tan Wu Meng wrote an article titled “Mr Pritam Singh supports Alfian Saát” and published it on PAP’s website and Facebook page.

The Facebook post has since gone viral, eliciting controversy online — it has since been addressed in Parliament and drawn statements from high-profile individuals.

[Read more…]


ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar.

About the author(s)

Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.

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