Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. - Camille Pissarro
Every city has its beautiful and ugly sides, so does every piece of art created. If we are in the positive state of mind, everything is beautiful and meaningful and vice versa. At the end, it is how we choose to look at it, either positively or negatively. Besides that, the interpretation of an artwork is a very personal thing and I have to agree with Oscar Wilde that art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
As to whether the wall mural in Johor Bahru by Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic showing a female pedestrian and the bandit armed with a knife will create positive or negative impression of the southern city depends on which perspective one would like to view it. To me personally, with or without the mural or “graffiti” as the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) would like to call it, the impression of Johor Bahru as the city of snatch thieves, armed robberies and a place of high crime are there.
Instead of debating and seeking expert views on what to do with Zacharevic’s mural, the authority should spend their precious time to do the right thing by coming up with plans to reduce crime in Johor Bahru and rebuild the image of the city. To quote state Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Tourism exco Datuk Tee Siew Kiong: "People with talent should use it in the right ways, to help boost our tourism and development," I would say that people with talent like him should work with the police and relevant authorities to solve the high crime rate in Johor Bahru and its negative image that gained notoriety worldwide.
Ernest Zacharevic is not only someone with talent but a visionary too. His wall mural may draw flak today but if it is being interpreted positively by the relevant authority followed by actions, he is helping Johor to boost tourism vis a vis crime prevention. Therefore, let the mural remain and let it became a catalyst for change in Johor Bahru to be a safer city. Finally, let it become a witness that high crime rate is one of Johor Bahru's past.