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Banned Concerts in Malaysia

Banned Concerts and Shows in Malaysia

Banned Concerts in Malaysia have become a trend after several mega superstars have either been banned from performing in Malaysia or simply cancelling their concerts here due to many restrictions from various authorities.

Malaysia had made international news repeatedly for banning concert shows due to the strict rules imposed on performers, especially females and rock bands.

However, in the last few decades, many different points of view and decisions have banned several world-class artists from performing in Malaysia.

For curiosity, it is actually enjoyable to know what went down over the last few decades here in Malaysia, a multi-cultural and multi-racial country in Southeast Asia.

To start things off, here is the 'almost-complete' list of banned artists and performers according to year;

Battle of the Bands KL Malaysia
The local Battle of the Bands from the 80s

Banned Concerts in Malaysia

Sept 8, 1986 - The Malaysian Government had banned all public rock concerts indefinitely after a statement by the previous Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The action followed several letters to newspapers after young people threw chairs, bottles and other objects at the Battle of the Bands (BOTB) rock concert in Penang back then. However, this ban was short-lived as it was eased in a matter of days. 

Sept 12, 1986 - The Malaysian government has eased its ban on outdoor rock concerts to outlaw only heavy-metal bands. Culture Minister Abdul Najib Razak described heavy-metal music as antisocial and a form of 'satanic escapism' that induces listeners to perform masochistic acts. 

1990's - Famous American band Chicago was not allowed to perform in Malaysia just because some members had long hair. There has not been much news available on this.

Megadeth banned concert in Malaysia
Megadeth concert was banned in Malaysia.

July 2001 - A Megadeth Concert in KL Malaysia was cancelled because the authorities negatively perceived the group's image and music.

The government pointed the band's mascot Vic Rattlehead as inappropriate and told the members that they would be arrested if they performed. Megadeth's album 'The World Needs a Hero' was also removed from record store shelves after its government branded their imagery unsuitably.

Their label, Sanctuary Records, was also banned from shipping album copies into Malaysia.

Feb 2006 - A concert by Norwegian metal band Mayhem was banned in Malaysia. The reason was that the band promotes "unacceptable" values, said Deputy Cultural, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Wong Kam Hoong. He also quoted, "I assure you that the ministry will do all it can to prevent this group from coming in," at a Parliament meeting in Malaysia. 

Nov 2007 - Beyonce pulled out of a concert in Malaysia due to government rules banning sexy attire and running and jumping on stage. Several publications reported that the news followed an uptick in protests by several conservative groups.

This included the nearly 10,000-strong National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students, urging the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage to stop the concert from taking place. Eventually, Beyonce proceeded to Jakarta to have her show there instead. 

July 2008 - Inul Daratista, Indonesian dangdut queen was banned from a concert at Johor Bahru. A replacement show, planned for 27 July at Bukit Jalil's Stadium Putra, never materialised.

A memorandum cited the fact that Majlis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) had condemned Inul, specifically for her trademark "goyang ngebor" (drill gyration) dance, as lewd, which led to the cancellations of her shows in Malaysia.

Finally, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) 's initial consent to the Bukit Jalil concert was revoked. Inul performed at the Indonesian ambassador's residence in KL on 18 Aug 2008 as part of celebrations for the archipelago republic's 63rd year of independence.

Strangely, Inul had performed in Malaysia twice before: in May 2005 and again in May 2007.

Mohsen Namjoo banned from performing in KL
Mohsen Namjoo was banned from performing in KL.

February 2011 - Namjoo, a 34-year-old Iranian singer-songwriter whose music melds classical Iranian music with more modern pop and jazz melodies, was scheduled to perform in Kuala Lumpur on February 18, 2011.

But Malaysian Culture Minister Rais Yatim announced that the concert had been cancelled because it did not mesh with its religion and culture. Thousands of Iranians who planned to attend the Namjoo Concert and bought the tickets have been extremely upset and confused. Apparently, some of them spent a few thousand ringgits flying over from Iran.


Erykah Badu's controversial 'Allah' word
Erykah Badu's controversial 'Allah' word issue with Malaysian authorities - Image from AnotherBrickInTheWall.Blogspot  

Feb 2012 - Erykah Badu's concert was cancelled after an alleged "offensive photo" of her sprayed on a tattoo of the word "Allah" was published by The Star newspaper.

A government committee, including police and Islamic policy officials, decided to forbid Badu's show because the body art was "an insult to Islam and a severe offence".

September 2013 - Lamb of God, a hardcore metal band, was banned from performing in Malaysia after calling their music satanic. This was a month after the Metallica Concert in Malaysia

Ke$ha's concert cancelled in Malaysia
Ke$ha's concert was cancelled in Malaysia.

Oct 2013 - Singer Kesha had her Malaysian concert cancelled at the last minute after the authorities banned her from performing, citing religious and cultural sensitivities issues.

Although Ke$ha had tried to fit the rules set by the authorities, they still warned her that she would be imprisoned if she disobeyed the rules.

March 2014 - The last day of the Future Music Festival Asia 2014 (FMFA 2014) was cancelled following reports of drug overdoses and the deaths of 6 teenagers. The FMFA was a 3-day EDM music carnival held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

March 2014 - A free concert called Twin Towers Alive 2014, featuring Christina Aguilera, Rain, Craig David, Lifehouse and Rick Astley, scheduled for 28-29 March 2014, was cancelled for the Malaysia Airlines MH370 incident that shook the world.

Malaysia Kreator Concert
Kreator concert that was cancelled in Malaysia

April 2014 - Metal band Kreator Live in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia cancelled. Controversial reports state that the venue's license had lapsed (expired venue licence), cited by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Kreator, who performed once in 2005 in Malaysia, was already here and all set for the concert when hours before the show, they were informed by the local promoter that the concert was cancelled "for reasons beyond our control".

The organisers also claimed they were forced to cancel the show "due to interference by a religious enforcement department", despite having all the necessary documents already prepared.

The organisers alleged that they were first given a verbal warning over the phone by a DBKL official at 4pm after a public complaint was made over what was allegedly described as a "Black Metal Show". 

Bands and artists who were almost Banned in Malaysia

Michael Jackson signs autographs for children at the Concord Hotel in Kuala Lumpur
Michael Jackson signs autographs for children at the Concord Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

October 1996 - During the Michael Jackson HIStory World Tour in Malaysia in 1996, he was forced to change his trademark castrato move (the crotch grab) to something more agreeable in the eyes of the religious authorities.

It is reported that crotch-grabbing is considered impure in Islam. Michael Jackson performed a 2-day concert at Stadium Merdeka in KL to sell-out shows. The second concert date was an extension show due to overwhelming requests. 

Malaysia Linkin Park Concert 2003
Linkin Park performs live in Malaysia.

Sept 2003 - American rock band Linkin Park was told to refrain from wearing shorts while performing.

Linkin Park, upon agreeing, then received the government's permission to perform in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Still, the hard rock band was not allowed to scream, jump around or wear shorts onstage. 

February 2004 - Mariah Carey was asked to cover up for her concert at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. Carey opted to wear jeans and a tank top for the entire Malaysian show at Stadium Merdeka on Feb 20th 2004.

The Pan- Malaysian Islamic Party's youth wing leader, Ahmad Sabki Yusof, wrote a letter to the government saying she promoted un-Islamic principles. "Everyone knows Mariah Carey presents herself in a sexy, unacceptable and almost vulgar manner," and "We don't want immoral values for our children, whether Muslim or not," he said.

The world-class superstar performed again for Mariah Carey Live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2014

September 2004 - Islamic fundamentalists urged the Malaysian government to bar a concert by the German rock group Scorpions, claiming the band would corrupt Malaysian youths. "Concerts like these are the catalysts for hedonism and vice in society," said Salahuddin Haji Ayub, a youth leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party then.

Nothing materialised, and the Scorpions concert in Malaysia went ahead on Sept 13, 2004, at a 50,000-seat stadium. The Scorpions have performed many times in Malaysia, and their first rock concert was back in 1984.

Pussycat Dolls Concert in Malaysia
Pussycat Dolls that performed in Malaysia

August 2006 - The Pussycat Dolls, who performed here in 2006, also caused controversy after their promoters were fined for allowing them to perform "explicit" routines during their concert here in Malaysia. The fine was a mere RM10,000 and was paid by the organisers. 

Aug 2007 - Gwen Stefani was almost banned after refusing to cover up her dressing. Under Malaysian government rules, a female artist must be covered from her shoulders to her knees. Also prohibited: jumping, shouting, or throwing objects on stage or at the audience.

Talent may also not hug or kiss, and their clothes must not carry obscene or drug-related images or messages. Eventually, Gwen Stefani agreed not to wear revealing costumes for her concert in Malaysia, which was part of Stefani's Sweet Escape World Tour. 

Avril Lavign almost banned in Malaysia
Avril Lavigne was almost banned in Malaysia.

August 2008 - Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne was almost banned. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party urged the government to cancel a concert on August 29, 2008, by Canadian rock singer Avril Lavigne.

Her onstage moves were considered too provocative for Malaysia's teenage population. Eventually, the concert went on as scheduled.

February 2009 - Rihanna almost cancels the Malaysian concert. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has called on the authorities not to issue permits for the show, part of Malaysia's Grammy award winner's "Good Girl Gone Bad" world tour.

The party said her revealing outfits and dance moves featured in the show insulted Asian values and outraged local cultural mores. Kamaruzaman Mohammad, a leader of the youth wing of the PAS, which called for a boycott of US goods over Washington's support for Israel's Gaza invasion, said that attending the California-based Rihanna's concert was a form of support for Israel. Rihanna agreed to shun skimpy clothes for her Malaysia concert. 

August 2009 - Muslims were banned from attending a brewery-backed Malaysia concert. Officials say Muslims were not allowed to participate in the concert by Black Eyed Peas in Kuala Lumpur because it has been organised by Guinness.

Eventually, the government agreed to allow the Black Eyed Peas to perform in Malaysia. 

August 2009 - Authorities have confirmed that the Michael Learns To Rock concert initially scheduled has been cancelled due to ongoing protests from PAS Youth leaders. PAS Youth has insisted that it is disrespectful for the sentimental rock band to hold a concert during the holy month.

The MLTR concert went ahead as planned as this was not the first time the Danish artist has performed in Malaysia.

The Wonder Girls concert in Malaysia
The Wonder Girls from Korea that performed in Malaysia

July 2010 - The Wonder Girls, a Korean K-Pop group, were allowed to return to Malaysia for MTV World Stage Live in Malaysia, along with Katy Perry, despite her songs and clothing being too "sexy" for the Malaysian teenagers. 

October 2010 - Adam Lambert scheduled concert in Malaysia was given the green light amid moderate protests from fundamental Muslims over controversies about his sexuality. Adam also agreed to make a few minor adjustments for the Malaysian government. 

March 2011 - Lady Gaga hit back at Malaysian leaders who banned her song 'Born This Way' from the country's airwaves in a YouTube interview many years ago. She is unofficially forbidden from performing in Malaysia. 

Malaysia Elton John Concert
Elton John that performed in Malaysia

Nov 2011 - A big protest was held when superstar Elton John wanted to perform in a concert here because he is a homosexual.

Members of an Islamic party claimed that the gay singer promotes hedonism. Shahril Azman Abdul Halim Al-Hafiz, an official with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), said the concert at the Genting Highlands resort on Nov 22, 2011 would corrupt young Muslims because of John's homosexuality.

It's not good. In Islam homosexuality is forbidden. What he is doing is hedonism. Hedonism is not good in Islam - Shahril was the chairman of the PAS youth wing of eastern Pahang state of peninsular Malaysia.

If you know of any other concerts or live shows that have been either cancelled or banned in Malaysia, please do let me know in the comment form below, as I would like to keep this list complete and up to date.

Conclusion

Overall, at this moment in Malaysia, famous world artists wanting to perform here are pretty uncertain as at any time, concerts or shows may be cancelled or postponed for all sorts of reasons. From a Malaysian point of view, sometimes, these concerts in Malaysia bring in good tourism dollars for the country.

But again, many other factions may think otherwise, and I leave it to the government to weigh in what is right and what is wrong for any future concerts and shows in Malaysia that can easily fall under the list of banned concerts of Malaysia.

Post a Comment

3 Comments

Anonymous said…
Malaysian authorities & extremist parties will always challenge that they conveniently find obscene or inappropriate.

Question is - why are some of the local rock songs and videos from the 70s/80s/90s still allowed when they have a lot of inappropriate content?
Anonymous said…
Many of the arguments from the parties are not valid. What do they mean by too sexy? Have they seen the clothing Malaysians wear too? Men are walking around in shorts and slippers; that's no problem! But foreigners are not allowed too, and it's just NOT RATIONAL. Why are Malaysians so narrow-minded? 'Everything is haram' 'that's haram' IN THAT CASE WHAT IS NOT?! If the government can't trust the people of the country, WHO WILL?! It's OUR choice what to do, and we all have COMMON SENSE. We KNOW what should and shouldn't be done. If one person does something, say, hug someone, it's HER decision! She knows that what she did was wrong, and just because she did it, by no means by every other girl will too!
Anonymous said…
Its okay. The moment we find out that our favourite singers are going to perform in our neighbouring countries, save money to go abroad and see them perform with no restrictions would be much better though..