Last minute cancellation of the “Thirst 2015” concert at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Center gives Malaysia a bad name

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang on the 26th of April, 2015

The “Thirst: We are all Stardust” 2015 concert that was supposed to be held at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Center (MIECC) was cancelled at the last minute yesterday on the 25th of April, 2015.

Here are the sequence of events, according to information available to me, that led to this cancellation.

The Serdang IPD had issued a letter on the 25th of March, 2015, saying that they had no objections to the staging of this event (Appendix 1).

MPSJ had issued a temporary permit to the organizers, Future Sound Asia Sdn Bhd, on the 21st of April, 2015 for the staging of the concert subject to certain conditions being fulfilled including ensuring that there would be no one under the age of 18 attending the concert and ensuring that no Muslims would be allowed to attend the concert (Appendix 2).

On the afternoon of Friday, 24th of April, the police sent a letter to MPSJ stating that they would not support the concert. As a result, MPSj was forced to withdraw the entertainment permit to the organizers of the event (Appendix 3). The reason for the withdrawal of the police support for this event was not stated. This is the ONLY reason why MPSj withdrew the entertainment license.

The last minute attempts by different parties to request for the assistance and support of the police for this event failed. As such, the organizers had no choice but to cancel the event and to promise refunds to all those who had bought tickets to the event.

While the police have the right not to support any entertainment event based on valid and legitimate reasons, it is unfair to the organizers of any large scale event when the withdrawal of support comes at the 11th hour and without any stated reason. To my knowledge, the organizers had obtained the support of the Anti-Dadah Agency and the Narcotics Division who would place their officers on duty on the night of the event. To my knowledge, the organizers and the sponsors had already spent millions of ringgit to organize and promote this event.

It is very disappointing for the ticker holders, the organizers, the performers and all the other stakeholders that this event had to be cancelled at the last minute. It also dents the reputation of Malaysia as a destination to hold international level entertainment events because of the possibility that such events may have to be cancelled at the last minute due to the withdrawal of permits.

At the very least, I hope that the police can come out to give an explanation on why they withdrew their support for this event at the last minute. Moving forward, I call for a transparent Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the part of the police for such events so that all stakeholders can take the necessary steps to prevent such a cancellation from happening again, without legitimate reasons given.

Appendix 1: Letter from the IPD Serdang stating that they had no objections to the staging of the event (March 25, 2015)

Appendix 2: Temporary Permit (Permit Sementara) issued by MPSJ on the 21st of April, 2015

Appendix 3: Withdrawal of the entertainment permit by MPSj after receiving a letter from the IPD Serdang that the police had withdrawn their support for this event