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The Malaysian government has issued a new directive to concert organisers in response to the Good Vibes Festival fiasco
By James Hanley on 01 Nov 2023
Promoters in Malaysia are being ordered to install a “kill switch” to end performances by international artists that breach government regulations.
The move comes the wake of July’s Good Vibes Festival fiasco in Sepang, where The 1975’s opening night headline set was infamously cut short by officials after singer Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws in a “profanity laden speech” and kissed a male bandmate on stage.
The remaining two days of the Future Sound Asia (FSA)-promoted event were subsequently cancelled and the band banned from performing in Malaysia, with The Star now reporting the furore has prompted the authorities to issue a new directive.
“The government has requested that concert organisers introduce a kill switch that will cut off electricity during any performance if there is any unwanted incident,” says deputy communications and digital Minister Teo Nie Ching. “This is a new guideline after the  incident. We hope that with stricter guidelines, foreign artists can adhere to the local culture.”
Overseas acts must apply for a permit through the Central Agency for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal) before they are granted permission to perform, while the police are also involved. Teo adds that representatives from the authorities would attend music events to monitor them.
“During a performance, we ensure that the [relevant parties] such as the immigration department, Puspal, police and local authorities are at the venue,” she says.
The decision on whether to blacklist any artist falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry and Immigration Department
However, Teo stresses the decision on whether to blacklist any artist ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry and Immigration Department.
FSA described Good Vibes Festival’s cancellation as a “catastrophic financial blow” and demanded £2 million in compensation from The 1975 – a settlement which IQ understands is still in progress. The promoter claims it was reassured by The 1975’s management team that Healy and the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines” prior to the group’s set.
“Regrettably, Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment,” aid Law. “His actions took us by surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident.”
Healy addressed the controversy in a 10-minute, pre-written speech at the band’s concert in Dallas, Texas last month, alleging that “the Malaysian authorities… briefly imprisoned us” and criticised the backlash against the group.
“It was the liberal outrage against our band for remaining consistent with our pro-LGBTQ stage show which was the most puzzling thing,” said the 34-year-old, who previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019.
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reports that Korean-American singer Eric Nam has cancelled his coming concert in Malaysia after receiving “threats” for liking a social media post linked to the Israel-Gaza war. Nam had been scheduled to perform in Kuala Lumpur in February 24.
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