As it is, many renowned international acts are already opting to host gigs at our neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Singapore over Malaysia due to the increasing intolerance toward activities or depictions that may be deemed un-Islamic by certain extreme Muslim groups, and this is only getting worse.
While it may have been an issue for a long time now, the cancellation of the upcoming beer festival that was due to take place in October further magnified the problem for international stars and their promoters. Not only do they have to be concerned over lyrics that could be risqué, revealing clothing is another stumbling block on its own.
Darren Choy, the chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia and Warner Music said, “Of course it does affect the overall attractiveness of Malaysia being a venue for artists, events or festivals to be held. With artists’ touring of Southeast Asia, Malaysia will not be the first choice for any act to tour.”
And then, he mentioned the worst thing, “It may end up being the last to be considered, or not at all.” Amongst the international artists that have cancelled performances in Malaysia over the past years include Kesha’s concert which was banned in 2013, and Beyonce, due to restrictions over her fancy costumes and dancing.
“You have to be very careful about the type of acts you book and make sure you comply with all the rules and even then, there’s no guarantee it will be approved by the authorities,” mentioned Qisthina Razin, representative of Malaysian events organisation, Freeform.
In the world’s eye, Malaysia prides itself for its multicultural and pluralistic heritage, but it’s evident that everything happening here back at home seems to be attesting otherwise. Extremist religious organisations are relentlessly strengthening ties with the government, and this then results in tighter policies and restrictions in their favour.