SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was among the "relevant parties" that were consulted before the Watain concert was given the go-ahead, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Tuesday (Mar 12).
Its comments were in response to letters from members of the public published in the Straits Times Forum page on the decisions and steps that were taken before the Swedish black metal band’s concert on Mar 7 was cancelled on the very day.
“Given the band's history and concerns expressed by MHA, IMDA allowed the Watain concert with a rating of ‘Restricted 18 (R18)’," IMDA's cluster director of communications and marketing Karen Low said.
“IMDA also imposed stringent requirements including the removal of songs which are religiously offensive, that the band could not make references to religion or use religious symbols, and that no ritualistic acts were to be performed on stage,” she added.
READ: 'Like a stab in the back': Anger, disappointment after Swedish metal band Watain's concert cancelled
Ms Low also said this was “consistent” with IMDA's treatment of similar performances in the past.
“In assessing and classifying content for arts performances and concerts, IMDA aims to protect the young from unsuitable content, maintain community norms and values, and safeguard public interest, while enabling adults to make informed choices,” she said.
However, on Mar 7 – the day the Watain concert was due to take place – MHA asked IMDA to consider cancelling the performance due to "new and serious concerns about public order, and ground reactions relating to social and religious harmony".
“After careful consideration, IMDA agreed to do it,” Ms Low said.
Following the cancellation of the concert, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said he could not see how Watain could have been allowed to perform in Singapore due to the band’s anti-Christian song lyrics.
“I saw the lyrics – it’s four-letter words on Jesus Christ, on Christianity, on religion, abusing the cross – everything that is so far out that I can’t see how we could have agreed to it,” he said.