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The Malaysian Insider: Have one-stop centre for concert approvals, event organisers say after Thirst

Concert organisers and event promoters want clearer standard operating procedures when seeking approval for shows to prevent 11th-hour cancellations such as what happened to the Thirst 2015: We Are All Stardust event recently.

The Arts, Live Festival and Event Association (Alife), an umbrella grouping of event organisers and promoters said a "one stop centre" method to prevent disputes arising between the various approving authorities and organisers.

Alife secretary Muhammad Iqbal Ameer said while the Central Agency for the Application of Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes (Puspal) was in charge of approving show content, event organisers still have to get approval from other authorities, such as the Immigration Department, Customs, police, local government councils, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), and the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

"Instead of having to go through so many different authorities which is time consuming, a one-stop centre is the best solution," Iqbal said at a press conference today.

He said Alife's proposal to have a one-stop centre approving authority was not about ensuring that approvals are granted but more important, to ensure that organisers do not suffer losses as a result of last-minute cancellations.

Despite obtaining approval from the relevant authorities earlier, the Thirst 2015 concert was cancelled on April 24, one day before it was to be held at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre (MIECC).

Police said they withdrew their support for the concert, causing the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) to withdraw the concert's permit. It later emerged that police had done so based on complaints from the local community and the Seri Serdang assemblyman, who is from PAS.

Benjamin Law, the founder and managing director of Future Music Sound Asia, the organiser of Thirst 2015, said the company suffered losses amounting to millions because of the 11th-hour cancellation.

As yet, the company has no plans to take legal action.

"We are not thinking about how to recover the losses," he said.

Law said they would continue to work with the authorities on future events but expressed disappointment that the move against Thirst 2015 had not only let down fans; the episode had also affected Malaysia's image, he added.

In a statement, Alife president Datuk Razlan Razali said that the current approvals system for concert and event permits was an inefficient one, and this caused big losses to organisers.

"Cancellations at the last minute have happened many times in Malaysia. The lack of transparency, lack of understanding by the authorities towards the entertainment industry, and inefficient management has caused our members to suffer huge loses, tarnishing their reputation in the eyes of the public," Razlan said.

He urged the authorities to work proactively with Alife to improve the permit application process for live events in Malaysia.

DAP's Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming had protested the 11th-hour cancellation of Thirst 2015, saying it tarnished Malaysia's image as a destination for international events. – May 5, 2015.

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