Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a Townhall session in Putrajaya November 11, 2019. — Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 11 — The government will look into setting up a special body to help protect and develop the local music industry, just as how the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) functions for the film industry, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

At a special townhall session with members of the performing arts industry here today, he said the body would protect the rights and interests of music industry practitioners, such as issues concerning lop-sided royalty payments.

“Looks like there are crooks not only in politics, but also among those in the performing arts industry. I did not know that they had been violating the law to scoop all the royalties for themselves.

“This may have been possible due to existing intellectual property laws being inadequate to protect industry members, so after taking into account their views, we will review the laws,” he said.

At the event, industry members also submitted a memorandum to the premier that proposed the setting up of a National Music Corporation.

Dr Mahathir said the structure of the proposed corporation must be determined by industry members themselves so their rights can be protected.

“This would not be a problem for the government as we want the nation’s wealth to be shared together. We introduced the Shared Prosperity Vision, so if there is one individual raking in millions from the (performing arts) industry, it would unjust for those contributing to the same industry not to enjoy a part of it,” he said.

The prime minister said he had always wondered how a singer could live comfortably and earn a high income before they turn famous, with some even living in poverty throughout their lives.

“(Allahyarham Tan Sri) P. Ramlee for instance. I see him as a (creative) genius, he can write stories and lyrics, compose songs, play instruments, make and edit films. I have personally seen him do all these, but alas, he died a poor man.

“Today, his songs are sung by everyone, but not even a sen of royalty goes to him, because he has passed on maybe his family gets some, but I am not sure about this,” Dr Mahathir said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir also urged the industry members to diversify their income sources, just as how the government suggested oil palm and rubber smallholders to opt for cash crops so as to provide an income buffer amidst uncertainties such as price drops.

He said this was because singers and musicians’ income was not steady enough, with some having to depend on invites for shows.

“If there are not enough invitations to perform, we can still depend on our side-ventures there are some industries where it is possible to be millionaires.

“If we are to just depend on performing, we may not earn much, but if we were to produce beautiful tudung (headscarves) for example some who did that are already millionaires. So diversifying your income sources can help generate high income,” he said. — Bernama