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1975 Malaysia furore prompts touring rule change

Promoters are being asked not to feature international artists "for the time being" in the wake of the Good Vibes Festival controversy

By James Hanley on 27 Jul 2023

The 1975 to only play festivals with a 50/50 gender split

Matty Healy

Promoters of upcoming events in Sepang, Malaysia are being asked not to feature overseas artists as the fallout from The 1975’s aborted festival headline set continues.

The British group’s 21 July performance at the Good Vibes Festival at Sepang International Circuit was cut short by officials after singer Matty Healy attacked Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

Healy’s “controversial conduct and remarks” resulted in the remaining two days of the festival being cancelled by the ministry of communications and digital, and left the band facing the threat of a class action lawsuit from local artists and vendors. Promoter Future Sound Asia is also “exploring legal options”, a spokesperson tells NME.

In the wake of last Friday’s incident, The Star reports that Sepang Municipal Council has ruled that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

“The council retains the discretion to blacklist individuals, companies, events or any related entities,” said council president Datuk Abd Hamid Hussain. “We have made a decision to only allow local artists to perform for the time being.”

Speaking at a board meeting last night (26 July), Hussain said the decision can be overturned if event organisers “submit an appeal to the higher authorities and it is approved”.

Six foreign electronic music acts are currently slated to perform at the M4ntap festival at Sepang International Circuit from 5-6 August

International acts can apply for a permit through the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal).

“Once approved by Puspal, the council will decide to approve the performing location,” said Hussain. “Event organisers will need to adhere to additional requirements, including ensuring that artists’ conduct and behaviour complies with the applicable laws at all times.

“Any violation of this will see the council taking necessary action, including the immediate cancellation of the event,” he said, adding any such violations would result in legal action.

Six foreign electronic music acts, including Dash Berlin, DubVision and Super 8 & Tab, are currently slated to perform at the M4ntap festival at Sepang International Circuit from 5-6 August.

Last year, the Malaysian government set out new rules for international artists following complaints from political party PAS Youth after a stadium show by Billie Eilish in Kuala Lumpur. PAS had previously called for a Selena Gomez concert to be banned in 2016, alleging it promoted “western culture and hedonism”.

All concerts by foreign acts include conditions for organisers and a code of ethics for artists – including how they dress and behave on stage – but according to The Star, the guidelines were being updated to take into account “all sensitivities of the Malaysian public”.


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