Malaysia orders inquiry into 'half-naked' tattoo show

A tattoo artist working on a client during the Tattoo Malaysia Expo in Kuala Lumpur last Friday. The event was supported by Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, according to the organiser's website. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A tattoo artist working on a client during the Tattoo Malaysia Expo in Kuala Lumpur last Friday. The event was supported by Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, according to the organiser's website. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia ordered an investigation yesterday into what the government called a half-naked tattoo show held in the capital Kuala Lumpur, after pictures of heavily-inked men and women circulated on social media in the Muslim-majority nation.

The three-day Tattoo Malaysia Expo, which started last Friday and drew participants from 35 countries, was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the show's organiser said on its website.

But the ministry said this year's event violated its standards for the first time since it was first held in 2015, and vowed "firm action" against the organisers.

Pictures in the Malaysian media blurred the private parts of men and women in the show.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi said in a statement: "It is impossible for the ministry to approve any application for events that have obscene elements such as this because it is not Malaysian culture, what is more when the majority of Malaysians are Muslim.

"We will wait for the full investigation report... and will not hesitate to take legal action if they are found to have been in violation of set conditions."

One of the event's organisers, Mr Carlos Benny Majakil, told Reuters he had no comment on the issue.

The authorities in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up 60 per cent of a population of 32 million, tend to lean towards religious and cultural conservatism.

A Malaysian religious court last month sentenced five men to jail, caning and fines for attempting gay sex.

In September last year, two women were caned for attempting lesbian sex in the east coast state of Terengganu.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysia orders inquiry into 'half-naked' tattoo show'. Print Edition | Subscribe