SLAMMED by Netizens for suggesting that artistes should refrain from giving partisan political comments on social media, Blogger Boy actor Qi Razali, 40, insisted that he was not against freedom of speech.
The Penangite felt that his recent Twitter update, advising celebrities to “think 1,000 times before tweeting, especially on racial and political issues” was misconstrued as a call for them to “zip up” with regards to politics.
“No, I didn’t mean that we artistes should stay clear of making political statements — all of us have a right to speak about issues of public interest since we’re taxpayers ,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.
“Being an artiste, especially one with a strong following, also means being tactful and diplomatic when it comes to making comments on the top political issues of the day.”
Qi said popular artistes were admired across the political divide, and served as role models for their fans.
“While they have a right to make a stand on public issues, their comments should not antagonise individuals, whole communities and organisations involved in political and social work,” said Qi, adding that the last thing any celebrity wants was to become “unpopular and despised”.
Qi said artistes of different political views should refrain from “bickering” on social media, because it would lead to animosity amongst their fans.
“Political comments, like comments supporting football clubs and teams, can lead to divisiveness if they are openly biased against ‘the other side’.
“It may be healthy to express an opinion, but when it comes to a political opinion, it’s best not to go to the extremes in attacking another’s opposing view.”
While Qi did not single out any artiste in his tweet, it came shortly after singer Datuk Sheila Majid tweeted on Dec 5 that “food was becoming expensive, the Ringgit was weak, the cost of living was high and jobs were scarce”.
In the same statement, which was re-tweeted over 2,000 times and received more than 1,500 likes, Sheila urged the government to “focus on the job of getting the country back on track”.
Her tweet, however, was criticised by Netizens who remarked that as a top entertainer, she had nothing to complain about.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s special officer Datuk Rizal Mansor told Sheila on Facebook that as a veteran artiste, she ought to know that when it comes to issues related to the economy, many factors were out of the government’s control.
Netizens rebuked Qi for being “immature” and told him that Malaysians had a right to speak their minds about politics.