KUALA LUMPUR: Calls by a political leader from the Islamist party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) to cancel British rock band Coldplay’s first concert in Malaysia in November has drawn a rebuke from local government minister Nga Kor Ming.
It has also stirred debate online among netizens, with many criticising Mr Nasrudin Hassan - a PAS central working committee member - who had called for the cancellation in a Facebook post on Wednesday (May 10).
“Does the government want to nurture a culture of hedonism and perversion in this country?,” asked Mr Nasrudin, adding that the concert would bring no benefit to “religion, race and country”.
The Facebook post was accompanied by images of lead vocalist Chris Martin holding a rainbow flag - which is used to represent the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community - during a Coldplay performance at the Wembley Stadium in London.
In response, Mr Nga - who is from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) - told local media on Thursday that the government continues to welcome the British band to perform in Malaysia later this year.
“If PAS does not like Coldplay, then simple - don’t buy their concert tickets. That’s all, but don’t stop Coldplay fans from attending their concert,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today at an event in Putrajaya.
Meanwhile, Shah Alam DAP chairman Shakir Ameer called Mr Nasrudin’s statement an “illogical protest” to create “cheap political publicity”. Shah Alam is the state capital of Selangor.
“Based on PAS' logic, it means the internet, television, radio and any other social media which they heavily depend on (especially Tik Tok) to spread their propaganda should be banned as well for promoting certain values that they do not agree with,” Mr Shakir wrote in a Facebook post.
He pointed out that the concert is an economic opportunity for Malaysia.
“There is a need to acknowledge that during music events by major international artists such as Coldplay, local traders are able to make an honest living around the vicinity of the event venue,” Mr Shakir said, adding that the country can also expect an influx of tourists from other parts of Southeast Asia as it is one of only two venues that will be holding a Coldplay concert in the region.
The other venue for the concert is in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Mr Shakir argued that Coldplay’s concerts promote practices such as “sustainability, recycling culture and reduction of CO2 emissions” which are valued by Islam.
“PAS does not care about positive values, they protest over anything for the sake of protest for political reasons.
“We cannot allow them to make political gains in the long run as harmony and understanding among Malaysians will be ruined if they were to make inroads during the coming state elections. We must come together in full force to reject PAS and Perikatan Nasional (PN),” said Mr Shakir.
PAS is a component party within PN.
Meanwhile, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil has retweeted posts featuring initiatives done by Coldplay, including a song performed in support of Palestine and a river cleanup effort in Malaysia.
Local media reported in 2021 that Coldplay has sponsored a watercraft named Interceptor 005 that removes trash from the Klang River - one of the 50 most polluted rivers in the world. The initiative aims to prevent plastic waste from entering the Straits of Malacca and eventually the ocean.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has also welcomed the British band through a video posted on social media.
“Coldplay, selamat datang (welcome) to Malaysia. Let us work together, protect the environment and keep the world safe,” said Mr Anwar prior to Mr Nasrudin’s remarks.
Netizens have also criticised Mr Nasrudin for overlooking the benefits that the concert can bring to the country.
“Do they have any idea how much money the country can earn from such a high profile concert? The accommodation, transportation, aviation industry (just to list a few) would benefit so much from this, it's like a free stimulus cheque to the service industry,” said one Reddit user.
Another user on Twitter pointed out: “Coldplay has literally done more to bring Malaysians clean water than PAS.”
The PAS-led state of Kelantan has been facing a long-standing clean water supply issue which has yet to be resolved.
“PAS, Coldplay once sponsored the Interceptor machine … in the Klang River. They tried to clean the river water. (Compare to) PAS who cannot even provide clean water for the people of Kelantan,” chided another Twitter user.
Coldplay is set to hold its first concert in Malaysia on Nov 22 this year at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur as part of its Music Of The Spheres World Tour.
This is not the first time that PAS has hit out at concerts performed by foreign artistes.
In March this year, Padang Terap Member of Parliament (MP) Nurul Amin Hamid told parliament that Korean girl group Blackpink's concert was against the values of Malaysia's Muslim-majority population. He also urged the government to "control" the increasing number of concerts held by foreign artistes in the country.
Last year, PAS youth wing chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said that such events encourage “hedonism” after American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish held her concert at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
In 2016, PAS made a similar call to ban the concert held by American singer Selena Gomez.