Malaysia Tattoo Expo Got Coverage, Unlike The Models

malaysia tattoo expo got coverage, unlike the modelsPhoto: Free Malaysia Today

Over the weekend, half-naked people in varying states of undress were walking around in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Meant to be canvases showcasing the stunning works of body art at the Malaysia Tattoo Expo 2019, things turned sour when netizens raised concerns over pictures of the event circulating on social media.

The reaction caused quite a storm, with many citing Islam as a reason to go against the event, which, ironically, was not targeted for the Muslim audience.

As posted on the Malaysia Tattoo Expo website and social media (so it would be hard to miss, really), entry to the expo isn’t free. As a matter of fact, it isn’t cheap - tickets were priced at RM74.20 for a one day pass and RM190.80 for a weekend pass, which is pretty steep a price for those who have no appreciation for the art. Simply put, those who had no reason to be at a widely publicised tattoo expo would have gotten more value out of the RM74.20 by donating it to the needy.

malaysia tattoo expo got coverage, unlike the modelsPhoto: The Straits Times

The common trait in the arguments against the event was religion, with netizens saying this shouldn’t happen in an Islamic country - all paraphrased in many colourful ways, but with the same substance.

Twitter user Shafiqah Othman posted a lengthy but necessary thread on how baffling (brilliant choice of words) the situation is, given that it was a closed event. She pointed out how tattoos are a crucial part of the indigenuous tribe in East Malaysia, with the beauty and significance of the culture dating back to centuries ago. Even in our Sejarah textbooks, the indigenous folks are shown with tattoos, after all. She added that the stigmatisation of the issue is an act of invalidating the indigenous culture. While we can’t speak for everyone, her suggestion of educating the younger ones about what not to do and simply looking the other way sounds pretty solid.

malaysia tattoo expo got coverage, unlike the modelsPhoto: TattoosTime

It isn’t that difficult to relate. Simply imagine losing something that is a part of you - something that carries great meaning to your culture and family, and it is easy to see why the controversy may come off as offensive.

Making very logical points, another Twitter user highlighted the fact that children would have to be accompanied by guardians/parents (as was also stated on the expo’s Facebook page). From this, we can assume no one was forced to visit the expo, meaning that all visitors entered knowingly with consent.

Moving forward, Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said that while the convention had a permit, the issue of nudity had not been green-lighted. He added that the previous three conventions in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, which took place in 2015, 2016 and 2017 had no such incidents.

He also said the Ministry will release more information upon the completion of investigations.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

By: Celestine Foo