Malaysia has implemented a unique requirement for concert organizers in the country: a “kill switch” that can terminate performances that violate official guidelines. This decision comes after a highly controversial performance by the band 1975 that led to the cancellation of a music festival.
The incident occurred during the 1975’s performance in Kuala Lumpur, where lead singer Matty Healy criticized Malaysia’s homophobic laws and shared an on-stage kiss with a male bandmate. The resulting outrage forced the cancellation of the weekend festival where the band was scheduled to perform.
How the Kill Switch Decision was Made
Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching unveiled this new regulation, stating that concert organizers must have a “kill switch” capable of cutting off electricity during any performance facing an unwanted incident.
Minister Teo Nie Ching emphasized the need for stricter guidelines and expressed the hope that foreign artists can better adhere to local culture.
Future Sounds Asia, the organizer of the Good Vibes festival where the incident occurred, has not observed a decline in interest from foreign artists wishing to perform in Malaysia. They pointed out that all foreign artists are well aware of the local performance regulations and have become more cautious following the incident involving Matty Healy. The company is also working to implement a “kill switch” system.
In response to the incident, Future Sounds Asia has initiated a claim against the 1975, urging the band to accept responsibility and provide compensation for the damages incurred due to the festival’s cancellation. They argue that Healy’s actions “tarnished” the festival’s reputation and “intentionally contravened the agreement they had with FSA.”
The 1975 and Matt Healy Controversy
The controversy surrounding the 1975’s performance has raised concerns that foreign artists might encounter difficulties when performing in Malaysia. It also highlights the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the country. Activists suggest that Healy should have consulted local LGBTQ+ individuals before his on-stage actions.
This move by Malaysia is not the first time an artist’s performance has sparked controversy. In May, a member of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a religious party supporting strict interpretations of Islamic law, called for the cancellation of Coldplay’s upcoming concert in November, citing concerns about promoting “a culture of hedonism and perversion.” Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin, responded by expressing the band’s inclusive stance and welcoming all people to their show.
The “kill switch” mandate marks an unprecedented measure aimed at ensuring performances adhere to guidelines and avoid potential controversies in the future. It remains to be seen how this new regulation will affect the entertainment industry in Malaysia and the behavior of visiting artists.