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Malaysia decides against blanket ban on concerts

The Malaysian government is strengthening guidelines for promoters but has decided against issuing a blanket ban on concerts following The 1975 controversy earlier this year.

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 in the Southeast Asian country.

The New Straits Times reports that Puspal approved 296 international acts this year with just one incident reported – July’s Good Vibes Festival fiasco in Sepang.

The 1975’s headline set was infamously cut short at the event after singer Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage, leading to the cancellation of the festival’s remaining two days. Promoters in Malaysia were subsequently ordered to install a “kill switch” to end performances by international artists that breach government regulations.

“The 1975 flouted several guidelines and we are in the midst of strengthening the guidelines to avoid reoccurrence”

“The 1975 flouted several guidelines and we are in the midst of strengthening the guidelines to avoid reoccurrence,” said deputy communications and digital minister Teo Nie Ching. “Just because of one incident, how can we cancel the others? Out of 296 artistes only one happened. How is this fair?”

However, speaking at the debate, opposition leader Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man called on the government to take preemptive measures by blocking artists who uphold values against the country’s policies.

“The government must make sure [concerts] have high moral values,” he added. “Do not simply leave it to the people to make choices, the government must have policies and regulations.”

Coldplay performed their first ever concert in Malaysia last month, attracting more than 75,000 fans to the National Stadium Bukit Jalil.

“It is disheartening to witness concerts being politicised… concerts have the power to unite diverse communities”

Meanwhile, Malaysian live music trade body ALIFE has urged MPs to stop “politicising” concerts.

“I would like to stress the transformative impact of live music events on our society,” says the organisation’s president Rizal Kamal. “However, it is equally crucial that organisers ensure proper permits.

“Beyond this, it is disheartening to witness concerts being politicised. The government and opposition must refrain from using these events as political tactics and redirect focus to pressing national issues.

“Concerts have the power to unite diverse communities, let us prioritise issues that enhance the well-being of all Malaysians, fostering a harmonious and prosperous nation.”

 


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‘Kill switch’ order for promoters after 1975 row

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 [1975] 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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Matty Healy defends Malaysia kiss in speech

The 1975’s Matty Healy has defended kissing his bandmate onstage in Malaysia during a 10-minute speech delivered at their concert in Dallas, Texas.

The British band’s opening night headline set at Good Vibes Festival was cut short by officials on 21 July after Healy criticised Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

The Malaysian government subsequently cancelled the rest of the event and the organisers of Good Vibes Festival demanded £2 million in compensation from The 1975, a settlement which IQ understands is still in progress.

During The 1975’s performance in Dallas on Monday (9 October), Healy delivered a 10-minute pre-written speech about the incident, alleging that “the Malaysian authorities… briefly imprisoned us” and criticised the backlash against the band.

“It was the liberal outrage against our band for remaining consistent with our pro-LGBTQ stage show which was the most puzzling thing,” Healy said, according to Pitchfork. “Lots of people, who appear to be liberal people, contended that the performance was an insensitive display of hostility against the cultural customs of the Malaysian government and that the kiss was a performative gesture of allyship.”

“In fact, it was the Malaysian authorities who briefly imprisoned us”

In response to those calling the kiss “performative,” Healy said, “The idea of calling out a performer for being performative is mind-numbingly redundant as an exercise. Performing is a performer’s job.”

Healy also addressed criticism from Julian Casablancas, who was scheduled to perform at the Good Vibes Festival with The Strokes and said the frontman did not respect the country’s customs.

“For performers like Julian Casablancas, who took to Twitter to criticize us, this bizarre mangling of colonial identity politics merely served as an expedient way to express their own disappointment with the festival’s cancellation,” Healy said.

He also clarified that the kiss was “not a stunt simply meant to provoke the government.” The frontman had kissed the same bandmate, bassist Ross MacDonald, during many of the 1975’s American concerts.

“We chose to not change our set that night to play pro-freedom of speech, pro-gay songs,” Healy said. “To eliminate any routine part of the show in an effort to appease the Malaysian authorities’ bigoted views of LGBTQ people would be a passive endorsement of those politics. As liberals are so fond of saying, ‘Silence equals violence. Use your platform.’ So we did that. And that’s where things got complicated.”

“As liberals are so fond of saying, ‘Silence equals violence. Use your platform.’ So we did that”

Healy continued: “Naturally, the Malaysian authorities were irate because homosexuality is criminalized and punishable by death in their authoritarian theocracy. That is the violent reality obscured by the more friendly term of ‘cultural customs’.”

Healy previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019. He wrote on Twitter at the time: “I don’t think we’ll be allowed back [in the UAE] due to my ‘behaviour’ but know that I love you and I wouldn’t have done anything differently given the chance again.”

Healy said on Monday: “If you truly believe that artists have a responsibility to uphold their liberal virtues by using their massive platforms, then those artists should be judged by the danger and inconvenience that they face for doing so, not by the rewards they receive for parroting consensus. There’s nothing particularly stunning or brave about changing your fucking profile picture whilst your sat in your house in Los Angeles.”

Toward the end of his speech, Healy compared “Malaysia’s militarised enforcement of laws” to other politicised issues in the US. “Even here in America, there are loads of states which uphold illiberal laws that restrict people’s bodily autonomy and gender expression,” Healy said. “But I suspect, I’ve got an inkling, that those who took to Twitter to voice their outrage over the 1975’s unwillingness to cater to Malaysian customs would find it abhorrent if the 1975 were to acquiesce to, let’s say, Mississippi’s perspective on abortion or trans rights.”

He concluded: “It should be expected that if you invite dozens of Western performers into your country, they’ll bring their Western values with them. If the very same things which made you aware of them could land them in jail in your country, you’re not actually inviting them to perform. You’re indirectly commanding them to reflect your country’s policies by omission.”

 


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Malaysian trade body hits out over 25% tax rate

The coalition representing Malaysia’s live industry is calling for an urgent review of a 25% entertainment tax, which it claims could have “catastrophic economic consequences” for the business.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall recently imposed the rate on all live events held in the city centre, causing “significant disruptions to both ongoing and forthcoming events” throughout the country.

Rizal Kamal, president of the Arts, Live Festival and Events Association (ALIFE), warns the move would lead to an escalation in ticket prices and place Malaysia at a disadvantage against its peers.

“A modern and consistent approach to taxation is essential to enable the industry to compete with its regional counterparts,” says Kamal, as per the New Straits Times.

“Singapore and Thailand impose zero entertainment tax but collect Goods and Services Tax and Value-Added Tax on tickets. Any rate higher than these countries’ tax structures would diminish KL’s competitiveness, resulting in the loss of international concerts.”

“We urge the government to conduct a comprehensive reassessment of the entertainment tax structure in KL”

Live events were previously exempt from the entertainment tax, which was introduced in 2001 and updated five years later. Kamal says the rate is “no longer aligned with the current socio-economic landscape” and represents an additional burden for promoters still recovering from the pandemic.

“We urge the government to conduct a comprehensive reassessment of the entertainment tax structure in KL,” he says. “Failure to do so could lead to event cancellations, substantial income loss for artistes, producers, venues, and workers, and damage our reputation as a business-friendly country.”

Kamal, who says ALIFE has been engaging with the authorities in a bid to address the issue, previously noted that the 25% tax ranks among the highest in the region.

“When combined with additional financial obligations such as a 15% withholding tax, a RM500 [€101] levy, and an additional bond mandated by the immigration department on artists, crew members and musicians, the cumulative fiscal burden becomes exceptionally demanding,” he said. “This is further exacerbated by elevated rental expenses for prominent venues.”

Earlier this year, ALIFE spoke out in support of Good Vibes Festival promoter Future Sound Asia amid the global outcry over The 1975’s aborted headline set.

 


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The 1975 handed €2.4m bill over axed festival

The 1975 have been served with a seven-day notice by promoter Future Sound Asia (FSA) to pay more than 12.3 million Malaysian ringgit (€2.4m) in damages over the recent Good Vibes Festival furore.

According to the Malay Mail, the UK band are accused of “intentional breach of contract” over their controversial appearance at last month’s festival, which was cut short after singer Matty Healy launched into a tirade against Malaysia’s anti-LGBT laws before kissing a male bandmate on stage.

The remaining two days of the 10th anniversary event were then cancelled following a directive from the ministry of communications and digital.

The festival’s lawyer, David Mathew of Steven Thiru & Sudhar Partnership, confirms the firm served The 1975 with a letter of claim on 7 August.

FSA is demand the group “admit their liability and also pay the sum of £2,099,154.54 (RM12,347,967.91) within seven days”.

“Healy’s representative categorically provided a pre-show written assurance that he and The 1975’s live performance ‘shall adhere to all local guidelines and regulations’ during their set in Malaysia,” reads the claim. “Despite this, the assurance was ignored, and The Band’s actions also clearly contravened the contract with FSA, which led to the cancellation of the festival and caused significant losses to FSA.”

FSA says it plans to pursue the matter in the English courts if it is not compensated by the band

FSA says it plans to pursue the matter in the English courts if it is not compensated by the band.

Held at Sepang International Circuit, near Kuala Lumpur, GVF 2023 was scheduled to run from 21-23 July and feature performances by acts including The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy.

The Arts, Live Festival and Events Association (ALIFE), the coalition representing the Malaysian live performance industry, came out in support of FSA following the cancellation.

“Over the past decade, the Good Vibes Festival has maintained an exemplary track record of organising exceptional contemporary festivals in Malaysia,” said ALIFE president Rizal Kamal. “The festival has consistently featured a diverse selection of artists, attracting both local and international attendees, all while ensuring excellent organisation and safety standards.

“We are confident that the Malaysian live events industry will recover from this incident and continue to thrive. Our determination lies in building a stronger, more sustainable live music scene in Malaysia.”

 


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Future Sound Asia threatens 1975 with legal letter

The promoter of Malaysia’s ill-fated 2023 Good Vibes Festival (GVF) has threatened The 1975 with legal action over the event’s cancellation.

The ministry of communications and digital issued an “immediate cancellation directive” to promoter Future Sound Asia (FSA) in response to the actions of the band’s frontman Matty Healy’s actions during their aborted 21 July headline set.

Criticising Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws (homosexuality is a crime in the country), Healy told the festival crowd: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”

After kissing bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth, Healy then added: “I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore.”

The 1975’s slot was subsequently cut short after 30 minutes and the remaining two days of the festival axed.

It was revealed today (7 August) that FSA, which described the cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”, has served the UK band with a letter of claim – demanding the group “acknowledge their liability and provide compensation to FSA for the damages incurred”, warning that “failure to comply will lead to FSA pursuing legal action in the courts of England”.

“FSA would like to reiterate their strong disapproval of the band’s behaviour during their performance at GVF”

“FSA would like to reiterate their strong disapproval of the band’s behaviour during their performance at GVF2023,” says a statement by the firm. “In particular, lead singer Matthew Timothy Healy’s use of abusive language, equipment damage, and indecent stage behaviour not only flagrantly breached local guidelines and Malaysian laws but also tarnished the reputation of the 10-year-old festival.”

Representatives for The 1975, who previously played GVF in 2016, have declined to comment, but Healy appeared to make light of the controversy during the group’s Lollapalooza headline slot in Chicago on Friday (4 August), telling the audience: “You want my travel tip? Don’t go to…”

In a press conference held late last month, FSA founder Ben Law said GVF was curtailed due to Healy’s “unruly conduct, which included the use of abusive or provocative language, destroying equipment and engaging in an indecent act on stage”.

“He blatantly contravened local performance guidelines and violated our country’s laws and regulations,” said Law. “We do not accept or condone such behaviour, and Matty Healy’s conduct deserves to be condemned. His display has left a trail of consequences for Malaysians. This incident was isolated and unforeseen, and contrary to the agreement we have with the band.

“Every artist, local or international, that we contract undergoes a clear discussion regarding these guidelines. We had The 1975’s management team assurance that they would adhere to local laws and regulations — in writing. We even further reiterated it with the tour manager prior to their performance.”

GVF’s 10th anniversary edition was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy. The controversy has reportedly led Sepang Municipal Council to rule that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

The 1975 could also face a class action lawsuit from Malaysian artists and vendors.

 


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Malaysian live biz unites over The 1975 fiasco

The promoter of Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) has attempted to set the record straight over The 1975’s aborted headline set, which resulted in the event’s cancellation.

The band’s performance last Friday (21 July) was cut short and the Future Sound Asia (FSA)-promoted festival’s remaining two days cancelled after frontman Matty Healy slammed Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald on stage. Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by 20 years in prison.

In a press conference held last night (27 July), FSA founder Ben Law said the set was curtailed due to Healy’s “unruly conduct, which included the use of abusive or provocative language, destroying equipment and engaging in an indecent act on stage”.

“He blatantly contravened local performance guidelines and violated our country’s laws and regulations,” said Law. “We do not accept or condone such behaviour, and Matty Healy’s conduct deserves to be condemned. His display has left a trail of consequences for Malaysians. This incident was isolated and unforeseen, and contrary to the agreement we have with the band.

“Every artist, local or international, that we contract undergoes a clear discussion regarding these guidelines. We had The 1975’s management team assurance that they would adhere to local laws and regulations — in writing. We even further reiterated it with the tour manager prior to their performance.”

“We are looking forward to possibly devising a framework which would specifically cater to the unique characteristics of multi-day and multi-act music festivals”

FSA described the festival’s cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”, while the band could face a class action lawsuit from Malaysian artists and vendors.

Healy’s sole public comment since the incident came via an Instagram post on Saturday, which said: “OK, well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”

GVF’s 10th anniversary edition was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy. The controversy has reportedly led Sepang Municipal Council to rule that only local artists will be permitted to perform in the district “for the time being”.

International 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.

“We will learn from this isolated incident and together with PUSPAL, we are looking forward to possibly devising a framework which would specifically cater to the unique characteristics of multi-day and multi-act music festivals,” added Law, who pointed out the 1975’s previous GVF performance in 2016 had passed off without incident.

“We advocate for proportionate solutions that ensure safety and cultural sensitivity without hampering our thriving international events scene”

“We strive for a safer, more harmonious future for live music in Malaysia and we advocate for proportionate solutions that ensure safety and cultural sensitivity without hampering our thriving international events scene here in our beloved country,” he added.

The Arts, Live Festival and Events Association (ALIFE), the coalition representing the Malaysian live performance industry, has come out in support of FSA.

“Over the past decade, the Good Vibes Festival has maintained an exemplary track record of organising exceptional contemporary festivals in Malaysia,” said ALIFE president Rizal Kamal. “The festival has consistently featured a diverse selection of artists, attracting both local and international attendees, all while ensuring excellent organisation and safety standards.”

ALIFE, FSA, and the government say they have engaged in “constructive dialogue” in the wake of the controversy, while minister of communications and digital Fahmi Fadzil has pledged increased cooperation between the authorities and event organisers. ALIFE says its members hosted 152 ticketed events in 2022/23, selling more than 500,000 tickets and generating RM210 million (€42m) in gross revenue.

“Our commitment remains steadfast in working collaboratively with the government, festival organisers, and all stakeholders to learn from this incident and implement necessary improvements,” added Kamal. “We firmly believe that this setback serves as an opportunity for growth and development, rather than warranting stricter regulations and guidelines.

“We are confident that the Malaysian live events industry will recover from this incident and continue to thrive. Our determination lies in building a stronger, more sustainable live music scene in Malaysia.”

 


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1975 Malaysia furore prompts touring rule change

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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Legal action mooted as The 1975 row escalates

The 1975 could face a class action lawsuit from Malaysian artists and vendors as the fallout from the cancelled Good Vibes Festival (GVF) rumbles on.

The British band’s opening night headline set was cut short by officials on Friday (21 July) after frontman Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

Healy told the audience: “I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point, right, I do not see the point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”

After kissing bassist Ross MacDonald on the mouth, Healy added: “I am sorry if that offends you and you’re religious and it’s part of your fucking government, but your government are a bunch of fucking retards and I don’t care anymore.”

Healy’s “controversial conduct and remarks” led the ministry of communications and digital to pull the remaining two days of the Future Sound Asia (FSA)-promoted festival. Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by 20 years in prison.

“There will be no compromise with any party that challenges, belittles or violates Malaysian laws”

“There will be no compromise with any party that challenges, belittles or violates Malaysian laws,” said Malaysian communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Meanwhile, Malaysian lawyer Mathew Thomas Philip announced on Facebook that he is heading up a pro bono legal team working on a class action suit against The 1975. The first draft, which names all four band members, says it is seeking damages for local artists and vendors for losses resulting from the group’s alleged “negligence”.

The New Straits Times reports that one of the 28 food vendors at GVF issued a video plea to the communication and digital ministry to reconsider its decision to cancel the event, having spent RM15,000 (€3,000) just on preparing food stock.

“This is not a small amount for small entrepreneurs like us,” says the business owner. “What does this mean for us? How do we move forward from this? Please help us save Good Vibes 2023 and punish those who are actually at fault instead of us, who are here to participate and to do what we do best.

“Everyone needs to consider that a lot of money has been spent to ensure that everyone has good times and good vibes. We should not be penalised for one person messing it up for everyone.”

FSA described the festival’s cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”

Police chief Comm Datuk Hussein Omar Khan says the band left the country on Saturday morning.

“In terms of action against the band, there is not much that can be done,” he tells The Star. “That said, we will hold the [festival] organisers responsible for their actions.”

GVF’s 10th anniversary edition was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy. FSA described the festival’s cancellation as “a catastrophic financial blow”.

However, the repercussions of this incident extends beyond us,” says company director Ben Law. “We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and stakeholders in the live entertainment industry in the nation and threaten our burgeoning live arts scene.”

Law says organisers had been reassured by The 1975’s management team prior to their set that the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines”.

“One can appreciate the meaning of Healy’s protest, but I think the timing of it may not necessarily benefit folks”

“Regrettably, Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment,” he adds. “His actions took us by surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident.”

FSA director of entertainment Wan Alman tells the BBC World Service: “I think it was very unfortunate that the festival had to be cancelled and I think it’s very easy for him to fly in and do whatever he thinks that he wants to do without having to face or taking accountability for any consequences for his actions while the ones who suffer the implications are his fans here, because his set was cut short, the festival organisers and I think the industry as a whole.”

A source close to the 1975 told the BBC: “Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community.” Healy’s sole public comment since the incident came via an Instagram post on Saturday, which said: “OK, well why don’t you try and not make out with Ross for 20 years. Not as easy as it looks.”

The 34-year-old, who previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019, received plaudits from his actions internationally, but the reaction from the LGBTQ+ community in Malaysia has been mixed.

“One can appreciate the meaning of Healy’s protest, but I think the timing of it may not necessarily benefit folks,” Thilaga Sulathireh of the LGBTQ+ group Justice for Sisters tells the Washington Post. “Political parties are currently campaigning, and we know LGBT issues are often scapegoated.”

The 1975 cancelled their shows in Indonesia and Taiwan “due to current circumstances”

James Chin, an expert on Malaysia at the University of Tasmania, adds: “Among the Muslim communities of Southeast Asia, they see LGBT rights as part of this Western agenda to impose cultural values on other countries, especially Muslim countries.

“One of the problems with trying to promote these sorts of things around the world is that without the local context, you tend to get it wrong.”

Speaking to the BBC World Service, meanwhile, Malaysian drag queen Carmen Rose says: “I think there is a right place and time to do that and how you deliver the message that he delivered, and it was very obvious that he was intoxicated and he wasn’t in the right space to do that.

“The way he said it and the way he delivered it, I think it’s very performative. It’s giving ‘white saviour complex’ and he wasn’t doing it for our community because if he was doing it for our community he would know what the consequences we would have to go through.

“Right now the state elections [are] just around the corner, and the politicians are going to use this as a scapegoat, or it gives them more ammo to further their homophobic agenda to gain votes.”

The 1975, whose live career is guided by agent Matt Bates of Primary Talent International, cancelled yesterday’s slot at Jakarta’s We the Fest in Indonesia and tomorrow night’s show at Taiwan’s Taipei Music Center “due to current circumstances”.

 


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Malaysia festival axed after The 1975 controversy

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival has been cancelled after The 1975 frontman Matty Healy hit out at the country’s strict anti-LGBT laws and kissed a male bandmate on stage.

The British band were headlining the first day of the festival’s 10th anniversary edition, promoted by Future Sound Asia. The event was scheduled to run at Sepang International Circuit from 21-23 July and feature performances by the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Dermot Kennedy.

The BBC reports that Healy criticised the government’s stance on homosexuality in a “profanity-laden speech” before kissing bassist Ross MacDonald. The performance was then cut short 30 minutes into the set, with the group claiming they had been ordered off stage by officials.

Homosexuality is a crime in Malaysia, punishable by 20 years in prison.

A source close to the 1975 tells the BBC: “Matty has a long-time record of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the band wanted to stand up for their LGBTQ+ fans and community.”

“The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws”

Good Vibes Festival (GVF) organisers outlined the reasons for the cancellation in a statement.

“We deeply regret to announce that the remaining schedule of Good Vibes Festival 2023 planned for today and tomorrow has been cancelled following the controversial conduct and remarks made by UK artist Matt Healy from the band The 1975,” says the statement.

“The decision adheres to the immediate cancellation directive issued at 1.20pm, 22 July 2023, by the ministry of communications and digital. The ministry has underlined its unwavering stance against any parties that challenge, ridicule or contravene Malaysian laws.

“We sincerely apologise to all of our ticket holders, vendors, sponsors and partners. We are aware of the time, energy and efforts you have put into making this festival a success, and we value your steadfast support. We will update you on refund mechanics as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding and continued support during this challenging time.”

Future Sound Asia (FSA) founder and director Ben Law elaborates on the situation in an additional statement published by the New Straits Times.

“The cancellation of GVF deals a catastrophic financial blow to FSA. However, the repercussions of this incident extends beyond us”

“Over the past 10 years, we have built GVF to be a uniquely Malaysian platform for enjoyable music experiences,” says Law. “Now, this decade-long labour of love faces an unprecedented threat due to the actions of an individual.

“This is a challenging time for us. The cancellation of GVF deals a catastrophic financial blow to FSA. However, the repercussions of this incident extends beyond us. We fear it will erode the confidence of music promoters and stakeholders in the live entertainment industry in the nation and threaten our burgeoning live arts scene.

“As festival organisers, FSA appreciates the trust our fans and authorities have placed in us over the years. We take our role in providing a safe, enjoyable music experience very seriously.”

FSA says that, prior to the group’s set, it was reassured by The 1975’s management team that Healy and the band “would adhere to local performance guidelines”.

“Regrettably, Healy did not honour these assurances, despite our trust in their commitment,” adds Law. “His actions took us by surprise, and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident.

“Healy’s unprofessional behaviour and defiance of laws and regulations are disturbing and that he chose to use his performance as a platform to express his personal views, rather than delivering the quality show that his fans were anticipating. This act is unfair to fans who were looking forward to enjoying a memorable music experience.

“We are committed to learning from this experience and taking steps to reinforce communication with artists and their management teams. We will emphasise the importance of professionalism and adherence to local regulations to ensure that future events are conducted with even greater care and diligence.”

Healy previously defied Dubai’s anti-LGBTQ rules by kissing a male audience member during a concert in 2019.

 


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