Malaysian political party calls for ban on international concerts, threatens protests

PAS has a long history of protesting concerts in Malaysia by international artists

The Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) political party has called for a ban on international concerts with a threat to protest if their demands are not met.

PAS Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari ignited the call for a ban in a Facebook post on August 19, writing, “Holding concerts non-stop like this is crazy work that invites the wrath of Allah. Stop this. Do not challenge the feelings of the Islamic congregation,” less than 24 hours after Billie Eilish held her concert in Kuala Lumpur on August 18.

He went on to publish a call for protests in the PAS party newspaper Harakah Daily on August 25, calling concerts by international artists “incompatible with the norms and values of Malaysian Muslims”. He also warned that there would be massive nationwide protests should the concerns he aired be ignored.

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Fadhli’s statements set off a series of responses from members of opposition parties as well as average Malaysians. Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) vice-president Zaidel Baharuddin told the New Straits Times that the tourism industry was in desperate need of the influx of concerts following the pandemic, urging the government to “be clear on its stand in rejecting such nonsensical notions brought forth by Pas Youth.”

Secretary to the Sabah chief minister Ceasar Mandela Malakun also told the newspaper that the state’s people would not heed the call for protest so easily, adding, “Sabahans appreciate the value of music and songs because these are closely part of every ethnic community in Sabah and we pass them down from generation to generation.”

“And what unites us is that songs and music from one ethnic community are appreciated and enjoyed by others. This is one of the trademarks of Sabahans.”

Malaysians took to social media to respond to Fadhli’s comments, with many observing that the party’s sudden focus on concerts at a time when inflation and rising costs are a primary concern of citizens was out of touch. “PAS is busy protesting concerts without caring about the issues of the people or the country’s economy. Additionally, they’re terrible at addressing national issues,” one user wrote, while another commented: “Check yourself, PAS. Buying Mercs and BMWs with public money is alright. Ignoring your own dirty laundry. Busy trying to ban concerts.”

Some found levity in the situation, with one user writing: “If I can’t buy passes to [Indonesian veteran rock band] Ungu’s concert, I’ll join PAS to protest against all concerts in Malaysia.”

See more reactions below.

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PAS has a long history of protesting concerts in Malaysia by international artists. In 2008, the party made international headlines after calling for a protest against a concert by Avril Lavigne in Kuala Lumpur, before going on to call for a ban against a concert by Beyonce in 2009 two years after successfully getting the singer’s debut concert in the country cancelled under threat of protest alongside other conservative groups.

The party has also issued similar calls in response to concerts by Adam Lambert, Gwen Stefani, Scorpions, Elton John and many more.

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