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Malaysia's communications ministry orders a 'kill switch' on concerts by foreign artists

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Communications and Digital Ministry (KKD) on Monday (Oct 30) instructed organisers of concerts by foreign artists to create a “kill switch” in order to avoid a repeat of the incident involving UK band The 1975 at this year’s Good Vibes Festival

Deputy Minister Teo Nie Ching said that the kill switch would stop the concert by cutting the power supply so that the event could not go on.

“These are the guidelines from the incident (involving The 1975) and we (KKD) hope that with stricter guidelines, we can ensure that performances by foreign artists can adhere to the culture in Malaysia,” she said during the question and answer session in parliament. 

She said this in response to a supplementary question by Jasin Member of Parliament (MP) Zulkifli Ismail who wanted to know the government’s steps in improving the censorship and blacklisting of The 1975. 

Mr Ismail also asked about the government’s action against the group who had continued criticising Malaysia in their concerts abroad.

Responding to a query from CNA, concert organiser Future Sound Asia said it does not think that the call for a “kill switch” by the Malaysian government will deter foreign artists from holding concerts in Malaysia.

“We have not seen any decline in interest from foreign artists wanting to perform in Malaysia,” it said.

“All foreign artists have been performing in the country with the understanding that they need to adhere to the local performance regulations. After the incident at (Good Vibes Festival 2023), artists are even more aware of this.”

Future Sound Asia is the organiser behind the annual Good Vibes Festival and has brought in artists like Niki, Kodaline and Russ to Malaysia.

The company added that a kill switch for its shows has actually been in the works.

“From a technical standpoint, our production team is working on a way to safely put an immediate stop to a show without disrupting the operations or causing any damage to the audiovisual equipment being used for the performance.

“From an operations standpoint, we are working on streamlining the ‘stop show’ flow and mechanics. (This involves determining) who has the authority to call a show stop, at what point should it be called, and what criteria needs to be met for the show to be stopped,” it told CNA.

Future Sound Asia asserted that it is “always … open to working with KKD to ensure that the live music industry in Malaysia continues to flourish”.

Meanwhile, Ms Teo said that the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) always assisted her ministry in checking the background of foreign artists so as to ensure that they do not promote negative elements in Malaysia.

“Furthermore, in organising concerts, PUSPAL (Central Agency for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes) will ensure that the PUSPAL committee is stationed at the location (of the concert) together with PDRM and PBT (local authorities) to monitor the concert,” she said.

On Jul 22, local media reported that The 1975’s performance at Good Vibes Festival 2023 was stopped after its vocalist Matty Healy held a bottle of alcohol on stage and criticised the country’s anti-LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders) laws.

Mr Healy also kissed a male bandmate onstage. Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia. 

The 1975 has since been banned from performing in Malaysia, according to PUSPAL. 

Additional reporting by Rhea Yasmine Alis Haizan.

Related:

Malaysian minister denies orchestrating ‘evil narrative’ blaming PAS for Good Vibes Festival cancellation

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