M'sia govt tells opposition 'be consistent & stop protesting' concerts when asked why Taylor Swift not in M'sia

Jeng jeng jeng.

Fiona Tan | March 08, 2024, 04:03 PM



Malaysia's government clapped back at the opposition, after they were asked to explain why American pop star Taylor Swift is not performing in Malaysia.

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that she was glad that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition is now "openly" talking about concert benefits, and told them to "be consistent and stop protesting".

Malaysia politicians trade jabs with rivals

Yeoh also said on Mar. 6, 2024 that her ministry had looked into Bukit Jalil National Stadium's issues in December 2022, and "purchased canvas and solved flooding to avoid using dustpans during the rain".

"Basic stuff, you know, before the lights come on for the big stars," she quipped.

Yeoh was replying to the Malaysian United Indigenous Party's (Bersatu) deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Bersatu, along with Parti Islam se-Malaysia (Malaysia Islamist Party or PAS), are the main opposition parties in Malaysia.

Both are part of the PN coalition, which has long been known for criticising and protesting concert events, such as Coldplay, Blackpink and Billie Ellish, in Malaysia.

Faizal wrote earlier on X on Mar. 6 that Malaysia missed the opportunity to host Swift and her global "The Eras Tour".

Malaysia government must be "more aggressive" to invite A-listers to perform

Commenting that "the huge economic windfall is beyond politics," Faizal added that the Malaysia government must be more aggressive to get "A-list artistes and content" into the country.

Faizal's comments on X come after his fellow party member Sasha Lyna Abdul Latiff said earlier on Mar. 6 that incumbent Prime Minister (PM) Anwar Ibrahim and Yeoh must provide an explanation on why Swift is not performing in Malaysia, especially since the Malaysian government supposedly had a head start over Singapore.

Sasha, who is Bersatu's legal and constitution bureau deputy chairman, claimed that talks between the Malaysia government, under former PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Swift's concert promoters began as early as 2022.

Singapore, on the other hand, sealed the deal with Swift to perform in Singapore, after a team from SportsSG, Kallang Alive Sports Management, and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) met with Swift's agents and promoters in Los Angeles in February 2023.

"Did the Madani government make any efforts to secure the tour?" Sasha said, referring to the Anwar, who introduced the Malaysia Madani, or Civil Malaysia, slogan on Jan. 19, 2023, shortly after he took office on Nov. 24, 2022.

... and amongst themselves

However it appears that not all Bersatu members see eye to eye with Sasha.

Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal rebuffed Sasha's claim that the Anwar's government must explain why Swift is not in Malaysia.

"When did Bersatu ever discuss about this?" Fayhsal wrote on X. "None of our Bersatu MPs (Member of Parliament) ever raised about this matter."

He said that Sasha's claim is entirely her own and does not represent Bersatu, adding that Sasha is not a "main leader" of Bersatu and hence, has no authority to issue the party's official view on the matter.

Bersatu squabbling

In a tit for tat, Sasha, in turn, said on X, "This is just Wan Fayshal's personal view."

"What discussion is required? This is basic economic sense, and common sense as well. Malaysia must not miss out in a highly profitable concert tour, which every country in the region is vying for," she added.

Sasha quoted Indonesia's Tourism Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, who said his country needs "Swiftonomics" to boost tourism, and said even the biggest Muslim majority country in the world wants dibs on Swift.

"If Indonesia is prepared to host Taylor Swift concerts, why can’t Malaysia?" she asked.

Saying that "this is about jobs and economic stimulus for Malaysia which we cannot afford to miss", Sasha told Fayhsal to "put petty political grandstanding aside [and] put the economy first".

Minister: "The Eras Tour" was never on the cards for Malaysia

Amid all the hullabaloo, Malaysia's Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Adam Adli Abd Halim and company Sportswork perhaps thought it was best to lay out the facts.

Responding to a Pakatan Harapan MP in Malaysia's Parliament, Adam Adli said that the "recent reports on the matter are not accurate" and that Malaysia was never offered the opportunity to host Swift's "The Eras Tour", The Star and the New Straits Times reported.

Adam Adli was referring to Free Malaysia Today's report titled "Malaysia had Taylor Swift in its grip and did nothing".

The report made mention of a joint contract between the Malaysian government, under then-PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob, with a United States (U.S) venue management company that was supposedly inked in 2022.

The contract was between Malaysia Stadium Corporation (PSM), Sportswork and ASM Global, an affiliate of global concert promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), to make KL Sports City, a sports complex in Bukit Jalil that houses the National Stadium, a magnet for sport and live entertainment.

Since AEG is the promoter of Swift’s concerts, this likely explains why Sasha claimed that Malaysia started talking to Swift's team in 2022.

Adam Adli clarified on Mar. 7 that not only was the joint contract only signed in early-2023, but Swift's concerts were never on the cards. Instead, the contract's purposes were solely to support overall venue management.

Adam Adli added that organising concerts were also not under the purview of Youth and Sports ministry.

Sportswork issued its own clarification echoing Adam Adli's words, "The concert in question [Swift's 'The Eras Tour'] was never offered to the Malaysian government under the joint ASM-Sportswork-PSM contract despite Taylor Swift's tour being officially announced back in November 2022."

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Top image by Lee Wei Lin and from Hannah Yeoh/Facebook, Sasha Lyna/Facebook