Petro Vietnam ex-chairman found guilty, sentenced to die
MALAYSIA: International organizers of pop concerts and some other big events are increasingly wary of including Malaysia on their itineraries, as the cancellation of a beer festival that was to take place next month highlighted growing intolerance toward activities regarded as insulting to Islam by some Muslim groups.
The promoters say that international music stars, especially those known for risqué lyrics or revealing clothing, are unlikely to be brought to Malaysia as part of regional or global tours. The same goes for any gatherings that could in any way be deemed un-Islamic.
While such concerns have been building for some time in this majority Sunni Muslim nation, the organizers say that the atmosphere has become particularly difficult in the past year.
The politicization of Islam has increased as Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling party seeks to appease the more fundamentalist elements to secure its large, rural Malay vote bank ahead of an election expected in the coming months. A United Nations cultural rights expert warned in a report last week that there is growing pressure to adopt a narrow interpretation of the Islamic religion and identity in Malaysia.
“Of course it does affect the overall attractiveness of Malaysia being a venue for artists, events, or festivals to be held. With artists’ touring of Southeast Asia, Malaysia will not be the first choice for any act to tour,” said Darren Choy, the chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia who also heads the Malaysian unit of American entertainment and record label group Warner Music. “It may end up being the last to be considered, or not at all,” he added. — Reuters