It's scandalous. DAP MP Lim Guan Eng has claimed that Petronas spent RM3.5mil a month to sustain the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) with the conductor paid RM130,000 a month. If that's true, that means the conductor is better paid than the Prime Minister and most chief executive officers in town. According to the Penang Chief Minister, his assistant gets RM30,000. Since its inception 10 years ago, Petronas has forked out RM500mil for the orchestra. This is serious stuff because only 10 per cent of the orchestra members are said to be locals. It is difficult for us to accept the fact that after 10 years, we are still unable to train enough musicians to take these roles. According to Guan Eng, the musicians are getting between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month. I am not an expert but I think for top class act, these salaries are not that big. But still, we would like to see more Malaysians, not necessarily all Malaysians.
Surely a decade is a long time. Penang born Ooi Chean See is said to have left the MPO because she was unhappy. But that's not all, companies which support the MPO have found out that they cannot even claim tax deductions. Surely, it make sense to have some form of tax incentives to encourage the private sector to back the arts scene. No one will get the full details of the allegations as Petronas does not have to make public its financial status.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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I had heard fairly similar figures for Filharmonik musicians' salaries when I covered the classical performances for the people's paper.
Other than the fact that there are still inadequate resources in Malaysia to train a batch of competent (let alone 'world-class') professionals, many who have studied music abroad just prefer not to return home. In that sense, I applaud govt-funded, and less glamorous Nat. Symphony Orchestra conductor Mustafa Fuzer Nawi (he may have played cello but I can't remember) , who not only came home from Europe, but works pretty hard to do his part for musical culture in Malaysia.
Datuk, you are right that it is not that much after you convert. But the fact and figures supports LGE's and probably many people's thought that Petronas is taking the easy way out to sustain the MPO and not letting local talent to be involved. At these salaries, the local talents wills surely return from the sojourn and they do not need to rely on giving tuitions or participating in reality shows to sustain their musical passion.
If oil be the food of love, drill on, Petronas. Petronas bodoh.
for world class act must pay world class salaries la. how come no one mentioned the low ticket prices compared with other world class venues and orchestras. petronas is subsidising heavily so that malaysians can get some culture and experience world class musicians play in our own backyard, instead of seeing droves flying down to singapore to watch musicals at the esplanade.
for a start the mpo can have auditions for qualified malaysian musicians to apply to join the orchestra. and we want a level playing field and no race quota. and until then super rich companies like star publicaitons should stop supporting the mpo by susbscribing to special seats and rooms and not getting tax rebats some more. how $ad...
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