National Art Gallery denies using Doraemon to push Visit Malaysia after drawing flak

Malaysia's National Art Gallery (Balai Seni Negara) said it has no plans to hold the Doraeman exhibition in conjunction with Visit Malaysia 2020, after being called out by Les Copaque Production and local cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid over its choice to feature a foreign animation icon instead of supporting local work.

In a press statement, the organisation clarified that the confusion arose when the Berita Harian posted an article on 11 March 2019 that suggests that the National Art Gallery intends to use Doraemon as a main exhibit. However, art gallery chairman Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah merely said at the Doremon's pop-up store opening that he welcomes collaborations if it has plans to start an exhibition next year in lieu of Visit Malaysia and Japan hosting Olympics, as Doremon is very popular in Malaysia.

"The National Art Gallery takes the views and concerns of the Malaysians on this matter. The National Art Gallery always prioritises local visual arts and artists," added the statement.

In a Facebook post, Les’ Copaque Production, the animation firm behind Upin & Ipin, sarcastically questioned, “When you can use foreign animation to promote Malaysia, why bother using local animation?”

Meanwhile, cartoonist Mohammad Nor Khalid, commonly known as Lat, also took to Facebook to express his disappointment over art gallery chairman Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah's comments in a news report by Berita Harian. According to the report, Rashidi said that the Japanese-themed exhibition is a way to promote Malaysia and put the country on a global map. Lat also added that he is "upset", as there are many local cartoon characters that can be featured instead.

Both the posts have been shared approximately 2,000 times at the point of writing.

Separately last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad encouraged Malaysians to mirror the patriotic spirit of the Japanese by purchasing local products. According to Bernama, the PM said doing so can help enable Malaysian goods to become as popular as other renowned brands worldwide. He added that “practical patriotism” was also the reason that led to the Japanese being supportive of industries such as automotive, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is holding a competition to amend the current Visit Malaysia 2020 logo, which has come under fire since it was launched in January this year.

Read more:
Tourism Malaysia calls for global creative and media pitch
Tourism Ministry ready to revise Visit Malaysia 2020 logo, says minister
Tourism Malaysia eyes RM100bn tourism receipts with Visit Malaysia campaign

(Photo courtesy: Dunia Kartun Lat)