I received the article or more appropriate I would say a letter in my email box two days ago. I believe there are undeniable truths to the writer's claims.
Being a fan of classical music myself I would certainly prefer local musicians in our philharmonic orchestra.Calling it a Malaysian Philharmonic and with 0ver 90 % foreign fiddlers is certainly an oxymoron.
It is absolutely ridiculous that after a decade we still couldn't find local musicians to take over from those costly foreigners.We all know we are not spared from all those ill-conceived and costly ideas by none others than our equally ridiculous leaders who seemed not to care how taxpayers' money are spent. Petronas money belong to the people of Malaysia and should be prudently managed and not spent at the whims and fancies of politicians.
There is no exiguous supply of local musicians if they really care to look around.The only problem is you may find them heavily concentrated in one racial group.They may not be top-notch but with proper training they would have acquired the skill by now if serious effort had been taken from the very beginning.
The other appalling thing is local musician of the same standing as their foreign counterpart would be paid a miserly amount, even the better ones would be paid less than the mediocre foreign musicians.
Maybe, we should send Mozart, Chopin, Bach and the rest of the gang back to the graves and go back to the kompang, anklong, gambus and kampong where we are better suited and stop pretending that we actually appreciate western classical music, a bought culture and social elitism at the expense of the Malaysian people.
Below is the letter:
There can be no smoke without fire. Perhaps we should all stop going for these musical concerts just to teach these people a lesson.Is this how we waste our money pretending to be social elite? In this case the kompang and anklong will sound better.Talk about corruption and mismanagement in Malaysia, we get it every which way we turn.
Much as we like to encourage appreciation of Western Music in Malaysia why is it that Petronas sees it fit to finance the 'Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra' which is a misnomer because 95% of its 105 musicians are foreign and mainly European.
Each musician is paid between Rm 16,000- RM28,000 per month. They are given 2 months paid holiday and working conditions which are second to none in the world. They have not one but 3 European conductors.
The Chief Conductor is paid RM130,000 per month and the Associate Conductor gets paid RM50,000 per month.
The total Monthly budget for this orchestra is RM 3.5 million.
The Malaysian Conductor Ooi Chean See resigned because it was widely known she was being undermined and not allowed to develop in her career. During her time with the orchestra, her concert scehdule decreased gradually to the point she was doing only a couple 'Children's Concerts' per year.
The orchestra has been in existence for 10 years now and the total amount spent on this orchestra has been staggering RM 500 million.
Yes, Petronas does not have money for bridges for Malaysians but it has money to splash on foreign musicians. Petronas does not appear to have real desire to train or give opportunity to locals Musicians.
They promised to set up an Academy of Music to train local musicians with the tutors drawn from the orchestra but this sadly has not materialised.
Since its inception, the Malaysian Philharmonic orchestra has not increased its Malaysian participation which still stands at a shameful 4%. They have cosmetic programs like 'outreach' to supposedly encourage the love of western classical music to local Malaysians but these are essentially self serving publicity stunts.
Even the newly formed 'Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra' is a publicity stunt with no serious commitment to develop Malaysian talent. It is poorly organised and its musicians meet about twice a year only!
The previous founding CEO of the orchestra Mr Hamid Abu Bakar was clueless about music and left the artistic decisions to IMG, an international music agency who have successfully milked Petronas for tens of millions of dollars.
The current CEO Juniwati Hussin is a chemist by training and is a slight improvement because she does actually attend the concerts and is not averse to learning to appreciate western classical music. But the overall artisitc planning and direction in controlled by the Europeans who have a vested interest telling Petronas that there is no talent in Malaysia and the ignorant management of Petronas are happy to maintain the status quo. It would appear that they prefer foreign participation in this 'Malaysian Orchestra' rather than to have Malaysians. What a pathetic mindset.
I hope issues like this will be brought up in parliament. Why can't Petronas train local musicians, provide scholarships for locals to study abroad if need be, and then employ them in the orchestra. In a matter of a few years we can have an orchestra consisting of Malaysians true to the name Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and good enough to rival the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. There is an abundance of talent in Malaysia. The sad fact is, Malaysian talent is usually recognised overseas.