An informal discussion appropriately named, “Sembang Santai” was held at PORT (People of Remarkable Talent) along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Ipoh on Friday, June 8. The Executive Councillor for Tourism, Art and Culture, Tan Kar Hing under whose portfolio the centre is entrusted to, led the talk. In attendance were people from the Ipoh arts community. The objective of the discourse was to reprise PORT’s roles vis-à-vis arts and culture in Perak.
Established by the previous state government in 2011, PORT’s primary objective was to nurture and incubate talents and expose them to the outside world. In short, the facility is, supposedly, to develop artistic talents from Perak. However, due to inertia and the lack of direction from those entrusted to lead the pack, PORT suffers a steady decline.
Its lacklustre performance became more apparent towards the tail end of the previous administration’s tenure. The management was revamped and reshuffled a number of times. The last two years (2017 to 2018) saw few activities taking place at the centre prompting many to assume that PORT has ‘gulung tikar’ (roll up) for good.
The centre is presently being managed by General Manager, Zamari Muhyi and his team of 10. Its “general health” was the theme of the discourse.
Syed Omar from Teratak Nuromar, a publishing house in Perak alluded to the centre’s one major failure: “PORT has so much on its plate – music, dancing, paintings, etc. It’s trying to fulfil its KPI (Key Performance Indicators) but after so many years in existence I still don’t see its achievements. Is it an arts hub or an event organiser?” asked Syed. He was surprised that PORT is now a corporation. “Why the change in status,” he queried.
Zamari replied that it was PORT’s strategy to give the facility a wider exposure to the public.
“I received complaints asking why PORT is only focusing on Ipoh. So, we decided to organise tours and roadshows all over the state. We want Perakeans to know that PORT is for everyone in Perak not just Ipoh,” said Zamari.
“The reason why Ipoh is said to be a cool city is because of its Rock and Roll scene. The youths in Ipoh feel that there’s a gap between themselves and PORT. That’s why they turned to us, instead. I was asked several times by PORT’s director, Dato’ Nolee Ashilin why I refused to work with PORT. It was mainly because I was not comfortable working with them but I might reconsider should there be a reshuffling in the management,” said Mohd Jayzuan, the founder of Projek Rabak.
Jayzuan said several well-known Perak artists had approached PORT for assistance but were turned down for no apparent reasons.
In 2017, said Zamari, PORT received a RM1.25-million budget. However, the amount was insufficient to underwrite all the planned activities. A roadshow in the kampung could cost anything between RM12,000 and RM15,000 to organise.
Howard Lee, the Executive Councillor for Sports, Youth and Character-Building, who was present, promised to bring the matter to the state executive council for deliberation.
“There’re many unresolved issues between PORT and the arts community. We’ll try our level best to resolve them amicably. We’re not here to find who’s at fault but rather to share opinions and find solutions,” said Tan.
On another matter, a Facebook page named “Ipoh Followers” ran an online poll recently asking the public should the PORT management be changed or remain. Fifty-five percent said it should be changed.