KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) maintained today it had submitted a permit application for the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) to federal authorities a month ago, refuting a federal minister’s claim that it had not done so.
KLPAC executive producer and co-founder Datuk Faridah Merican explained in a statement here that the application was “personally” submitted to Puspal, or the Central Agency for the Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists, on March 7 by KLPAC production manager Freddy Tan.
Tan, she said, was subsequently “advised” by a Puspal officer last Wednesday that the application had been rejected for two reasons – costuming and foreign performers.
“This was most unusual because we had applied for performances by the Singapore Dance Theatre on two previous occasions and both were approved,” Faridah said.
“In fact, we have always found Puspal to be most helpful and understanding.”
It is believed that the two reasons given by Puspal were not communicated in great detail to Tan.
Faridah said that following the permit rejection, an appeal was submitted on the same day.
But despite this, she confirmed that the ballet performance, titled “Ballet Illuminations”, originally scheduled for April 6 and 7 at KLPAC, had to be cancelled.
“This has resulted in many disappointed patrons and in much expense incurred by both the SDT and KLPAC,” she said.
Earlier today, Information, Communications and Culture minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim refuted reports that the performance had been cancelled due to indecent attire, claiming instead that Puspal had never received KLPAC’s permit application.
The federal lawmaker insisted instead that he too loves ballet and said on his Twitter timeline that, “as someone responsible for culture, I would strongly urge that this ballet performance be on in Kuala Lumpur.”
The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that the SDT had been denied a permit to perform here this weekend owing to their “indecent” costumes.
MyDance Alliance president Bilqis Hijjas said the decision by Puspal was “deplorable” and would hurt Malaysia’s reputation as a reliable host for cultural shows.
Bilqis said Puspal had approved dances featuring classical tutus before — even at government-run theatre Istana Budaya as late as this year — and asked why the agency was “so inconsistent” in applying its guidelines.
“KLPAC, by comparison, is a private business on private ground, with paying audiences who were well aware of what they were coming to see, and not one of whom would have been distressed by the costumes,” she said.
But SDT artistic director Janek Schergen has dismissed the discussions as speculation, noting that “The Nutcracker,” one of the shows it was to have performed, was “one of the most respected, classic and family-friendly dances there are”.