Malaysia is known for its arts and cultural events and a tattoo show is no exception. For three consecutive years since 2015, Sabah has served as the home for tattoo lovers to appreciate the art.
However, the event hit a bump in the road at its fourth exhibition after images of half-naked models covered in tattoos during the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019 went viral on social media.
The event, which was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) for three days from November 29 to December 1 puts Pakatan Harapan (PH) in a bad light.
Federal Constitution expert Dr Muhammad Fathi Yusof described the organisation of the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019 as going against the principles of Rukun Negara.
Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim also shared his two cents’ worth. He said the organisation of the event as a whole gave the impression that it had no guidelines, especially those involving the national cultural heritage.
He opined the Tourism Ministry should initiate attractive ways to lure tourists via the Malaysian value system which respects the diverse socio-cultural and rich values of the multi-cultural society.
Not just mainstream media, the issue also gained traction on social media platforms.
Looking at the overall discussion of the Malaysia Tattoo Expo on Twitter 2019, it is mostly negative in nature.
While a few defended the expo as part of the tradition and culture in Sabah and Sarawak, others said the event does not reflect Malaysian culture. Religion was the common feature in the arguments against the event, with many saying that this should not have happened in an Islamic country.
Interestingly, a different sentiment is observed on Facebook.
Here, netizens mostly defended the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019 as a arts and cultural event.
This is observed in the Word Cloud generated from November 27 to December 3. It can be seen that positive phrases of the event such as ‘sebahagian expo art’ and ‘seni moden’ are comparatively bigger in size than negative word phrases such as ‘elemen-elemen lucah’ and ‘tindakan undang-undang’.
With regards to the event, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has responded that although a permit was issued to hold the event, there was actually no approval given by the government for any form of nudity to take place as seen at the expo.
This led Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi to order a police inquiry against the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019 which is said to have breached the norms of Malaysia’s morality and culture, despite being a closed-door event.
On December 3, the organisers of the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019 came forth to apologise for failing to provide a full disclosure on the activities happening during the event.
They took full responsibility on the incident and added that the company will be more responsible to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future.