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Malaysian Muslim parties at loggerheads over Taylor Swift concert

One party wants Swift's concert to bring in money, the other opposes it on moral grounds
Tylor Swift performs at a Grammy Awards function in the US

Taylor Swift performs at a Grammy Awards function in the US. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 08, 2024 12:20 PM GMT
Updated: March 13, 2024 10:52 AM GMT

Two nationalist Muslim parties in Malaysia’s opposition bloc are at loggerheads over the concert of Taylor Swift as the popular American singer-songwriter concludes her tour of neighboring Singapore.

While one party holds that such international artists bring in money to the state exchequer, the other insists such tours negatively affect the moral values of society.

Not having Eras Tour, Swift’s worldwide tour in Malaysia, “is a missed opportunity,” said Ahmad Faisal Azumu, deputy president of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or Bersatu for short).

Singapore is the only Southeast Asian nation included in Swift’s world tour. The seven-day event concludes on March 9.

The city-state stands to gain US$370 million in revenue from the six concerts, reports said. The tickets for the concert were sold out days before the events.

“We [Malaysia] must be more aggressive to get them [A-list performers]. The huge economic windfall is beyond politics,” Faisal said on his X, formerly Twitter, account.

Malaysia is reported to have initiated talks with Swift to host her concert way back in 2022.

The nationalists are asking the government of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim why it failed to secure the deal despite the talks two years ago.

However, the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), opposes it, saying the moral damage such concerts inflict on society will be irreversible.

"We are against [concerts] because the amount of money cannot be used to repair the damage inflicted on generations,” its deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man was quoted as saying by the Malaysiakini.

The PAS is known for its social conservatism and often cites the performers' attire and their liberal socio-political views to ban them in the Muslim-majority nation.

The Malaysian government has often yielded to their pressure and has canceled concerts even at the eleventh hour. In a few cases, the government has imposed restrictions on performers.

As the controversy heated up, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Adam Adli told parliament on March 7 that it was untrue to say that the government entered into a contract in 2022 to have Swift’s tour in the country.

He also said organizing concerts was not under his ministry’s purview, reported thestar.com.

The contract signed in early 2023 was “only to support overall venue management,” the minister said.

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