No More Concerts In Malaysia?

The recent cancellation of the Thirst 2015 dance event on the eve of its opening in Kuala Lumpur has left local music fans wondering if it’s the end of live music in the country. 

According to police, the organizers could not guarantee a drug-free environment. With the deaths of several attendees of a dance festival last year still fresh in their minds, they decided to pull the plug just to be safe. Local events planner Christopher Chan told Malay Mail that it is the responsibility of the authorities to create a drug-free environment, not concert promoters.

“Raves and concerts do not promote drugs,” he said. “People promote drugs. So stop blaming the event itself and lend a hand to prevent the abuse of drugs.”

Police said they made the decision to halt Thirst independently and were not affected by outside parties. In any event, he pointed out, the promoter had started selling tickets before approval had been given.

Part of the problem is that organizers and promoters have to attain approval of concerts from several state organizations. Future Sound, the organizer of Thirst, had received approval from Malaysia’s Central Agency for the Application of Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes, but, apparently, not final approval from the police. In addition, organizers also have to seek approval from the Immigration Department, Customs, local governments, the Malaysian Isalamic Development Department and the Tourism and Culture Ministry when such approval applies.

Consequently, the Arts, Live Festival and Event Association (ALIFE), an “umbrella grouping of event organizers and promoters,” according to the Malaysian Insider, advocates the formation of a “one stop center” for approving concerts in order to “prevent disputes arising between the various approving authorities and organizers.”