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New Straits Times
Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

Malaysia

Blanket ban not the answer, says concert promoter

New Straits Times | Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

A blanket ban on concerts in Malaysia is not the solution, instead, the question that needs to be answered is "Why are people taking drugs?", said Livescape Asia public relations head Jason Kong.

The company was the organiser of Future Music Festival Asia 2014 (FMFA) rave in Kuala Lumpur.

"What happened at FMFA was unfortunate. Right now, we are seeing reactions from individuals who are calling for a blanket ban on concerts in Malaysia and I don't believe that's the solution.

"There have been a lot of questions in recent days, but one that hasn't been addressed seriously is why are people taking drugs, and I think we, as society, need to address this and there definitely needs to be more education on this issue.

"We definitely do not condone drug usage, and there needs to be more awareness out there on the repercussions of abusing drugs. From our end, we've had numerous anti-drug messages shared through our social media channels prior to the event, and even warning signs at the entrance and around the festival grounds. We also conducted thorough checks and had significant police presence on the venue.

"So, in essence, what I am saying is there is a bigger issue at hand which needs to be addressed and I don't believe that having a blanket ban on concerts or a specific music genre in the country is the answer."

Kong said there were more positives than negatives in music festivals.

"Take FMFA for example, 58.5 per cent of the people who attended the festival over the past three years were tourists and they came from Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, South Korea, China, the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and many more.

"We were even going to announce the recognition given by the Malaysia Book of Records on day three of the festival, which has recognised us as having the 'largest tourist audience in a concert', surpassing the one given to Michael Jackson's History tour in 1996.

"The estimated economic impact of music festivals such as FMFA last year was RM52.5 million, generated by approximately 15,000 tourists. This year, we had estimated it to be over RM112.6 million from a projected figure of 30,000 tourists. They come to the country specifically for the festival.

"If a blanket ban is imposed on live music events in the country, it will also affect others connected to the industry. Production companies, local artistes, taxis, hotels and food vendors are all set to lose out from a good income.

"I don't believe the incident will affect the EDM scene in the country. It does look that way at the moment, but I hope in time, cooler heads will prevail and realise that there are bigger issues at hand and that banning live music events or a specific genre of music in Malaysia is, at best, a short-term solution and is not the answer.

"Music itself isn't harmful. There are better solutions to this and that is to address the bigger issue of drug abuse in the country through more education and awareness on substance abuse."

Kong said in coming months, Livescape would be taking on an active role to lobby for more awareness on drug abuse.

"There needs to be more awareness on substance abuse and that has always been our stance. But we cannot do this alone. There needs to be a collaborative effort by all concert promoters, relevant government bodies, non-governmental organisations and the authorities."

Kong said the company's primary focus now was to ensure festival goers affected by the cancellation were rightfully refunded.

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