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Entertainers to Jakim: Explain what is excessive laughter
Published on: Friday, April 24, 2015
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Selangor: Entertainers are unclear about how the Malaysian Islamic Development Department's (Jakim) new guidelines will be enforced when it comes to jokes that should not cause excessive laughter.Comedian Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, popularly known as Nabil Raja Lawak, said Jakim was "just doing its job' but questioned how the department was planning to monitor comedians.

"In Islam, we shouldn't behave in an extreme way. Even Malays have the saying 'jangan ketawa banyak sangat, nanti menangis' (don't laugh too much, later you may cry)," he said.

"But how are they going to monitor it? Are they going to send their officers to tail every comedian? Our job is to make jokes, but we can't force the audience to laugh — or not laugh."

Ahmad Nabil said even religious lectures had "comedic elements' to attract bigger crowds.

"These religious speakers are still doing good work and teaching good values. People remember advice better through comedy," he said.

"Maybe if comedians add elements of religious advice in their routines, it would be okay.

"But these guidelines might make it easier for us. Instead of stressing out over new materials, we can just have regular jokes so the audience doesn't laugh too much," Ahmad Nabil said.

The guidelines, which are available online, are meant to assist authorities to ensure entertainment programmes are based on the Islamic faith, codes and moral values.

Comedian Dee, of Jangan Ketawa fame, said any guideline by Jakim should consider Malaysia's multicultural make-up.

"When you bring religion into the picture, it becomes a very sensitive issue," said Dee.

'I am not sure about how they will implement this. They need to be very clear about what they want, and whether we should have any form of entertainment at all.

"If they decide to do the latter, then I hope Jakim can employ all the entertainers."

Being a non-Muslim, veteran actor and comedian Allan Perera jokingly declined comment as he "could be charged with sedition for commenting on Muslim-related matters'.

"I would like to hear what moderate Muslim performers think about these guidelines, and if they will speak about them in public," he said.

Perera said he was curious about how "excessive laughter' would be measured.

"What scientific genius or measuring tool will be used?' he asked.

"The best part of my career is hearing from people I had made their day, especially if they were feeling down. Laughter is something we need in our lives."

Singer, actress and emcee Adibah Noor said there should be a clear definition of what would be considered "extreme'.

"We've been led to believe 'laughter is the best medicine'," she said.

"Apparently now, it is not. So, to what degree is laughter detrimental?'

PAS deputy President Mohamad Sabu also questioned how laughter can be measured, terming the Jakim guideline on excessive laughter as "rather inappropriate".

"I find it strange. You cannot measure laughter. There are some people who don't make jokes but people still laugh," he said.

"How does one not laugh?"

On gender segregation of the audience, Mohamad said there were differing opinions but he pointed out that it was already being implemented in Kelantan.

"I don't dare to say if it's right or wrong. But there is more good than bad in segregating people," he said.

He said a discussion would need to be held with the party's ulama on the other points in the guidelines.

Global Movement of Moderates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said while Jakim could play its role of advising Muslims, this advice should reflect "wisdom and practicality".

"And the advice should not be unreasonable, like the one on laughter," he said.

"Of late, there seems to be heightened policies that want to control things. When you put the latest Jakim advice with the ruling on Muslim men not performing Friday prayers, the Sedition Act and Pota (Precention of Terrorism Act), Islamic authorities and Muslim leaders are now giving the wrong signals, as if Islam and governments led by Muslims are so harsh and rigid."



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