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Dangdut singer faces Bandung
ban over 'sexy' act

Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada said Tuesday he would bar dangdut singer Dewi Persik from performing in the city unless she toned down her stage act, which he described as sexually provocative.

"I'm not banning Dewi from Bandung, but I will prevent her from performing with her current style. But if she wants to change her act and appearance, then she can play here," Dada said in Bandung, the capital of West Java province.

The singer had been scheduled to give a show at Kebun Waru penitentiary on April 29.

Dada said Bandung had been declared an art and culture city, but that Dewi's stage show did not qualify as either.

"Art and culture should be aesthetic in nature. I've had frequent discussions with ulema who say life would lack joy without art and culture. Life would also be meaningless without religion," he said.

The mayor said he had decided to ban Dewi in response to the complaints of residents that her "provocative" show would tempt young people into sexual experimentation.

"I don't intend to kill creativity or her source of income, but I just want to remind her that the way she moves and sways and the clothes she wears are not in line with existing norms in the community," Dada said.

The mayor said the ban had the full support of Bandung residents, who wanted their city to be more religious.

Dada said this was also what led him to ban Playboy magazine and "pornographic" tabloids in Bandung.

"What I do deals with the aspirations of Bandung residents, who want to see their city more religious," he said.

Lenny Oemar, 60, a female ulema from Pangalengan, Bandung, welcomed Dada's efforts, but she asked that the mayor set strict criteria for imposing such prohibitions.

"What we want is that any similar show also be banned. There should be clear-cut criteria because many other singers have the same sort of style as Dewi," she said.

Lenny said many boys, when asked about Dewi, said they became sexually excited watching her perform.

"I would appreciate it if she performed well, but if it tends to spark sexual desire, it is no longer art," she said.

Wawan Juanda, an artist in Bandung, said the mayor was using the same sort of outdated authoritarian methods applied by the New Order regime.

"Don't be vulgar, insensitive and authoritative in blocking freedom of expression like this. Don't just issue bans without any thought -- don't do this, don't do that. This is completely wrong. If he (the mayor) does not agree (with a performance), which part of it? If so give a solution and how to deal with it," said Wawan, who is active in the theater community.

Wawan hoped the administration could be more supportive of art and culture in the community.

"Giving meaning to any expression can be done in many different forms. Don't generalize something based only on the perception of one person," he said.

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