Kuala Lumpur City Hall has rejected the script of a play by Five Arts Centre, but the theatre company says it has appealed, in the form of a revised script to the city's licensing evaluation committee.
"They have allowed us to appeal, and we've sent in a revised script (on Wednesday)," said Five Arts Centre publicity manager Mark Teh.
Written by Huzir Sulaiman and directed by Krishen Jit, the play "Election Day" was submitted to the committee for its approval to stage at Actor's Studio Bangsar on Feb 12.
Strangely however, the rejected play had in fact already been staged in 1999, nine days after the general election. The latest application was merely for a repeat performance.
In the dark
According to Teh, this consideration did not seem to affect the licensing evaluation committee's finding that the script contravened six of DBKL's eight guidelines for staged productions.
"The verbal rejection was given on Tuesday (Jan 27), while the rejection letter only arrived on Saturday (Jan 31)," he said. The script was sent in for consideration in December last year.
Not only did City Hall's answer come in late, said Teh, the letter also failed to specify which six guidelines the play offended, leaving them uncertain of what the committee had found to be offensive.
When Five Arts had a meeting with City Hall deputy director-general Salleh Yusup and head of licensing Saringat Adnan on Thursday, they were only informed that the script was "not appropriate", Teh said.
Five Arts was therefore only able to make changes based on the script City Hall had returned, where the names of individuals, organisations, and certain words were highlighted with a marker, he added.
In any case, Teh said, the script was not expected to be censored, especially given the fact that it is publicly available in the form of a book of plays written by Huzir and published by Silverfish Books entitled `8 Plays'.
"The same individuals and organisations were named (in the published script), such as `Guardian Pharmacy', `Anwar Ibrahim', `Sivarasa Rasiah', `Shahrizat Jalil', as well as terms like `Hidup Mahathir'," said Teh.
"I don't know understand why a term such as `Guardian Pharmacy' is considered objectionable."
City Hall officials said they were unable to comment on the matter as all public statements must come from Mayor Mohmad Shaid Mohd Taufek, who is currently out of town.
An officer could only confirm that the script for `Election Day' had been resubmitted to City Hall for reconsideration.
In the aftermath of the controversy over political satire `The 2nd First Annual Bolehwood Awards' - a much-criticised ban was overturned by Mohmad Shaid and then denied to have existed - City Hall created new guidelines for awarding performance licenses.
The new codes insist that artistes "do not ridicule, put to contempt, disrepute or shame heads of states", and bars performances from impinging "on policy and administration of (the) nation", among others.
"Election Day" is the first Five Arts production to be evaluated under the new guidelines and the new evaluation committee consisting of City Hall representatives and three theatre practitioners.
Ada yang tidak kena pada jam 6 pagi, hari pembuangan undi 29 November 1999. Tiga teman serumah berdepan dengan femme fatale ‘Natasha’. Ada rahsia besar antara tengah malam hingga subuh hari itu. Semuanya gara-gara Natasha, kepentingan diri muncul dan semangat setiakawan akhirnya tergugat.
Fozi, arkitek yang menyokong PAS, berdepan dengan realiti tiba-tiba ini bersama Francis, tidak minat berpolitik, dan Dedric Chan, seorang aktivis badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) dan penyokong kuat kempen seorang calon pembangkang.
Tetapi apakah kita akan bertemu Francis, Fozi dan Dedric lagi? Tidak! Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) ingin mereka bertiga ‘didisiplinkan’ demi menghadapi pilihan raya umum tahun ini.
Lima tahun lepas sudah berbeza, watak ciptaan Huzir Sulaiman ini harus juga tahu menghargai kepemimpinan Perdana Menteri baru, mungkin. Sekarang, bukan era Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Lewat bulan lepas, permohonan Five Arts Centre untuk mempersembahkan teater arahan Krishen Jit itu pada 12 Februari (Khamis) ditolak. Election Day, yang pernah ditonton lima tahun lalu didakwa melanggar "enam daripada lapan syarat" lesen DBKL.
Bagaimanapun dewan bandaraya, seperti juga cara Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) mengendalikan permit penerbitan, tidak menyatakan sebab-sebab larangan itu
Bagaimanapun dewan bandaraya, seperti juga cara Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) mengendalikan permit penerbitan, tidak menyatakan sebab-sebab larangan itu.