Last minute event cancellations have become incidents that are all too familiar to Malaysians, especially in the past year. When “Thirst 2015: We Are All Stardust” was abruptly called off at the very last minute, it left a lot of partygoers hanging and sorely disappointment, but none could’ve been more disappointed that Future Sound Asia, the organisers behind what would’ve been one of the greatest shows Malaysians have ever seen.
To that effect, the Arts, Live, International Festivals and Events Association (ALIFE), a group of organisers and promoters, has urged the government to provide better protection to its members particularly organisers from the live events industry who has been affected by event cancellations.
ALIFE’s acting president, YBhg Datuk Razlan Razali says that event organisers are suffering huge financial losses due to the current process of the permit application system in Malaysia.
Datuk Razlan Razali, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Sepang International Circuit said:
Last minute event cancellations in Malaysia has happened one too many times with no factual basis, transparency, lack of understanding of the industry by current decision makers, and proper engagement with the organisers and as a result, our members have been left with a negative public image, huge financial losses, and on a bigger perspective, the perception of the Malaysia brand internationally has suffered.
Today we call on the various authorities to seriously and proactively engage with us at ALIFE to review and improve upon the permit application process for live events in this country and we hope that the authorities can look into the more streamlined and transparent approval system which we are proposing today.
Over the past 2 years, the country has seen a rise in 11th hour concert cancellations with internationally renowned artistes such as Erykah Badu, Ke$ha, Lamb of God who have been affected due to protests or objections raised by groups in Malaysia.
Recently the “Thirst 2015: We Are All Stardust” event also had its permits revoked a day before the actual show was to take place at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre (MIECC), Mines Resort City.
In Malaysia, concert organisers are required to go through a multi-step approval process to host an event from various government bodies including PUSPAL, which is the central organization for permit application process for concert organisers, the police, the customs department, the immigration department and the local city council.
But here’s the catch: Each department or government body can at anytime withdraw support or revoke a permit for an event even after approvals has been granted.
At a press conference yesterday (Tuesday, 5th May), ALIFE made public its proposed changes to the current permit application process for concerts and live events – by having a one-stop centre for approvals.
Datuk Razlan added:
Malaysia is gearing up for live creative content with this year’s tourism campaign having been branded as “The Year of Festivals 2015”. The creative content industry including arts, festivals, and events are expected to contribute to RM30 billion to Malaysia’s economy by 2020. But we cannot even get enough international artistes or content to perform and take place in Malaysia. The government’s vision versus what is happening or being implemented on the ground is not in sync. There is a clear disconnect.
Ben Law, Founder and Director of Future Sound Asia also shared his experience and journey running “Thirst2015: We Are All Stardust” to date and the unfortunate cancellation that took place this year.
“Thirst 2015” was positioned a major step forward creating Malaysia’s first home-grown high concept dance music event.
When asked about the losses that Future Sound Asia suffered because of the cancellation, Ben revealed that it amounted to millions, but even so, they’re not thinking about how to recover the losses as of yet, neither do they have plans to take legal action.
The ALIFE committee also discussed and shared their thoughts regarding the impact of the live events industry towards the development of the Malaysian tourism and socio-economy. The panel featured Para R (Director of PR Worldwide), Izan Satrina (Founder and Director of My Performing Arts Agency), Rizal Kamal (Founder and Director of LOL Events), Iqbal Ameer (Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of The Livescape Group), and Ben Law (Founder and Director of Future Sound Asia).
The proposed changes to the permit application process by ALIFE, Datuk Razlan says, allows the organisers to be a part of the decision making process and forces event promoters to ensure that proper standard operating procedures are executed and followed through when organising an event.
“Our point here today is this – let the industry be a part of the decision making process because we believe that Malaysians know how to differentiate and decide for themselves what content they want to consume. It is also their right to do so. Malaysians today, particularly the youth are smarter and more exposed and I highly doubt that going to a concert will sway them away from their religion or their belief,” he added.
As such, he urged the authorities to work proactively with ALIFE to improve the permit application process for live events in Malaysia.
For more information, visit ALIFE’s Facebook page.