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“Are We Really Non-Essential?” Sidelined Performing Arts Industry Questions Govt As Other Businesses Reopen [OPINION]

“Are We Really Non-Essential?” Sidelined Performing Arts Industry Questions Govt As Other Businesses Reopen [OPINION]

Iqbal Ameer
CEO of The Livescape Group

I am happy to see more & more industries given the green light in opening up under revised SOPs.

I hope that the #rakyat will follow through, be aware that our incompetence will lead to higher risk and we need to be vigilant in practising SOPs.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to celebrate for the live & entertainment industry.

Credit: The Livescape Group

There are no venues that can open.

There are no musicians that can perform.

There are no theatres that can showcase their art.


MKN yesterday approved MICE activities with 250 pax audience, and with much disappointment, MKN rejected live events with any audience, whereas both MICE and Live events /Performing Arts are using 100% similar SOP that was developed jointly by Maeceos and ALIFE and was approved jointly by MKN on June 22nd.

From the feedback ALIFE received from MKN technical committee, Performing Arts /Live Events is considered aktiviti ‘hiburan’ and therefore deemed non essential, whereas MICE is allowed to open.

Credit: The Livescape Group

The approval for any sector should be based on SOP and not on type of content. MICE and Live Events are the same type of activity with audience, whereby one has speaker or panelist on stage and the other has a performer on stage.

Like in a Masjid, there is an Imam that is the ‘speaker’ and the jemaah (congregation) are the ‘attendees.’

While MKN might deem us as “non-essential”, there are essential human lives behind our industry who have sacrificed almost one year without any source of livelihood in the name of safety and support of the government’s Movement Control Order.

However, after observing the current trend and while almost all sectors are open including schools beginning March 8th, we feel like we are now sidelined with no valid reason as activities which are in a higher risk environment like pasar malam are allowed to operate.

I believe we have been categorically targeted by the powers that be and the civil servants of Malaysia to use COVID19 as a reason to keep us shut and burn our industry to the ground.

The Livescape team

Ask yourself:

Why aren’t Cinemas allowed to open?

Why are restaurants being fined for playing pipe-music? (this happened to two outlets in Bangsar)

It may sound harsh, but right now in my heart I believe this is the truth.

We have worked so hard for many years to rectify what is really wrong with the negative views and associations the government had with us, and we have had so many dialogues with the powers that be to push the industry forward multiple times with multiple people trying to convince them that our businesses in gathering people for content are no different to a pasar malam.

And we are ignored, asked to keep reapplying – show more facts, show more data on why we are important industry and we are given new faces to look at and smile with.

May I ask – what facts did the government have to get pasar malams to open?

What facts did the government have to open mosques for Friday prayers?

What facts did the government have to open educational institutions?




You do not need to see how important an industry is and how it affects the economy, in order to open it. You are meant to work with the industry to get these industries open as fast as possible under SOP and compliances that can get these businesses back on track.


We have just been labelled Non-Essential. We are not important. We don’t matter. We are not in line with the government’s views of what is right and what is not.

Have you or your business been sidelined too? Asked to close, with no hope or light to open up?

Then you are non-essential too.

Non-essential it is then.#kitajagakita

Iqbal Ameer is the group CEO of The Livescape Group; an experiential entertainment company that has been operating in South-East-Asia for 10 years. He is also the vice-president of ALIFE, an NGO that focuses on advocating live events & entertainment in Malaysia.

Iqbal Ameer, CEO of The Livescape Group;

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