KUALALUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia ordered an investigation on Monday 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 on Friday and drew participants from 35 countries, was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & 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 Malaysian media blurred the private parts of men and women in the show.
“It’s impossible for the ministry to approve any application for events that have obscene elements such as this, because it is not Malaysian culture, what more when the majority of Malaysians are Muslim,” Mohamaddin Ketapi, the minister of tourism, arts and culture, said in a statement.
“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, Carlos Benny Majakil, told Reuters he had no comment on the issue.
Authorities in Malaysia, where ethnic Malay Muslims make up 60% 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 2018, two women were caned for “attempting lesbian sex” in the east coast state of Terengganu.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)