A tale of two concerts

Two concerts in two separate locations have had their late evening start times brought forward – and the official reason given by the authorities is to prevent the shows from clashing with Awal Muharam prayers.

(Between the Lines) – The decision was apparently made by the Central Agencies Committee for Applications for Filming and Performances by Foreign Artistes (Puspal), which approves all performances by foreign artistes, after Puspal consulted with the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

The affected concerts are Taiwanese singer Bobby Chen’s gig at Stadium Melawati as well as Indian singer SP Balasubrahmanyam’s show at Plenary Hall, KLCC.

The order to change the time of Chen’s show could perhaps be argued to be logical – it’s being held right next door to the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque, where the Selangor state government is scheduled to hold Awal Muharam prayers that evening. There could be issues with the noise interfering with the prayers and the concert-goers causing congestion in the area.

But the decision makes no sense for the SP Bala concert. Raaghav Production, the concert organisers, claims Puspal and Jakim were concerned conducting the show after sunset could cause uneasiness among Muslims and lead to racial issues.

This is a ludicrous suggestion. The concert is a ticketed, closed-door event held in the heart of the city where pubs, clubs with live entertainment and movie theatres will continue to operate as normal … or will they soon be ordered to shut too?

Also, who do the authorities believe will be offended by a concert by a 73-year-old Indian singer who sings golden Tamil oldies and has never bitten off the head of a bat nor shrieked about witches at black masses? (Bobby Chen also, as far as we can tell, isn’t into dining on bat. But yeah, as we said, his concert venue is problematic.)

Puspal says it never approved the SPB concert’s 7pm start time in the first place and that an application for a permit had only been received on July 31, despite tickets having gone on sale in March.

Still, while it’s true that Raaghav shouldn’t have advertised the show or sold tix without first having gotten approval, it doesn’t explain why Puspal thinks a closed-door, sit-down affair would cause offence.

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