It is hoped that the new guidance for performance will effectively fend off blacklisted artistes so that concerts can still be held in this country and make positive contribution towards our economy.
Last Friday night, Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975 band hailing from Manchester, UK, not only openly hit out at the Malaysian government’s unwavering attitude towards the LGBTQ community, but also provocatively kissed his band-mate Ross McDonald on stage, during the Good Vibes Festival performance at Sepang International Circuit.
Such actions are seen as taboo and against the law in Malaysia, and we are quite sure all the members of The 1975 band should have known about that before they arrived here.
Same-sex kisses which wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow at all in the West is a no-no in this country due to differences in our moral perception.
If foreign artistes wanted to perform in this country, they would have to respect our laws as well as convention.
The result of such an offensive display of indecency was that within 30 minutes after the show was abruptly ended, the culprits were expelled by the Malaysian authorities and were barred from re-entering the country in future.
Communications and Digital Minister Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil announced on the following day that the show, initially scheduled to end only on Sunday, was canceled immediately, saying the Malaysian government would not tolerate any individual challenging our laws.
Rightly so, but how are we going to enhance the control of concerts by foreign artistes to prevent similar incidents from happening here again?
The Good Vibes Festival is in its tenth year in Malaysia this year.
This year’s event was supposed to last for three days from July 21 to 23. Unfortunately, Matty Healy went berserk and screwed things up on the opening night, forcing the government to instantly halt the show.
As a consequence, the organizers, audiences and even the food hawkers peddling outside the venue had to suffer unexpected losses because of his act, not to mention the other 42 artistes/bands lined up for the three-day music festival.
The organizers of Good Vibes Festival said the manager of The 1975 had pledged that members of the band would comply with the Malaysian “guidance,” but unfortunately they failed to honor the promise made.
Even Malaysia’s “drag queen” Carmen Rose was critical of Healy’s inappropriate behavior, saying his action would put the LBGTQ community in a tougher situation.
Perkasa’s response was the most aggressive. The organization has urged the digital and communications ministry to ban all concerts by foreign artistes’ in Malaysia, arguing that it was necessary to prevent things similar to The 1975 incident from poisoning the minds of our young people in future.
That said, given the ubiquity of social media, it could be a tall order for the authorities to really prevent our young people from being poisoned by such indecencies, and we need to do this from the educational approach.
LGBTQ is outlawed in Malaysia, but stopping all foreign performers from putting up shows in this country is simply overdone, as this will hurt the country’s international reputation and image.
While we are against LGBTQ behavior, we simply should not ban all performers from coming here. Are we going to ban maestros in the likes of Plácido Domingo and José Carreras from staging their shows here as well?
By halting the concert just because of Healy’s ill behavior, the other 42 artistes and groups have been denied their opportunities to perform for music lovers here. Should everyone be punished just because of one man’s detestable act?
After this incident, minister Fahmi has asked JK-PUSPAL (Central Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes) to review the existing guidance for foreign artistes, including prior vetting of the performers’ list by the home ministry.
In the meantime, the organizers must also undertake to ensure proper behavior on the part of the artistes.
While it is impossible to stop foreign performers from going overboard on stage, it is hoped that the new guidance for performance will effectively fend off blacklisted artistes so that concerts can still be held in this country and make positive contribution towards our economy.
The unhappy incident during the Good Vibes Festival ought to be handled by the authorities as well as the industry. Politicians should at best leave the issue alone and not to exploit it to advance their own agendas.