Controversial concert held during Nisfu Syaaban in Kedah: Here's what you need to know

26 Feb 2024 05:25pm
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

SHAH ALAM - A controversy came to light when a concert was organised at a festival site in Taman Jubli Emas in Alor Setar, Kedah on the night of Nisfu Syaaban, a night where Muslims are encouraged to increase worship and seek blessing from Allah SWT.

The Choii Underground Music Tour Kedah 2.0 concert held last Saturday sparked widespread discussion, drawing comments from various quarters.

Many highlighted the sensitivity of the situation, particularly for the Kedah community.

Numerous videos from the incident became viral and were shared widely on social media where many online users questioned how a state ruled by Pas, a political party with its roots in Islamic law and teachings, could allow an event that appeared to go against the party's core values.

Pas' influence in Kedah was formidable, as seen through its victories in 14 out of 15 parliamentary seats during the state election.

Despite Pas' dominance, the Kedah government has explicitly stated that neither the administration nor any affiliated agency granted a permit or approval for the controversial concert.

Earlier, it was reported that State Housing, Local Government and Health Committee chairman Mansor Zakaria said that although an application was submitted to the state government, it did not mention anything about holding such a concert.

The application was approved based on the state government guidelines.

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Mansor emphasised that the concert was organised without the permission of any state government agency, constituting to a serious violation of the approved conditions.

"The state government takes note of the controversy surrounding the concert. However, the organisers applied for permission to hold a sales carnival and other events that are permitted in accordance with the guidelines set by the state government and their application was approved.

"Therefore, the concert was held without approval from any state government agency and this is a very serious violation of conditions by the organisers.

"The state government will summon the organisers to provide explanations on the matter and will decide on the next course of action in accordance with the law," he said in a statement, yesterday.

Mansor said any party that violated the conditions after receiving approval to organise an event will be blacklisted from being involved in any future programmes in the state.

Meanwhile, Pokok Sena Umno Youth chief Mohd Farhan Ahmad also called for greater sensitivity from organisers, suggesting that they should choose more suitable dates for youth programmes to avoid societal misunderstandings.

Freelance preacher Jafri Abu Bakar Al Mahmoodi also commented on the matter on his official Facebook page expressing disappointment regarding the organisation of concerts on the night of Nisfu Syaaban.

Without naming any concerts, he said that the night should be celebrated with worship, seeking forgiveness and praying to Allah SWT.

"But unfortunately, we celebrate the night of Nisfu Syaaban with concerts in several places in Malaysia. I cannot accept it and I feel the obligation to advice myself and the entire Muslim community," he said.

Meanwhile, the organiser of 'Choii Underground Music Tour Kedah 2.0' Faris Azrii also made an apology through a video on his TikTok page over the issue saying there was oversight by his team.

He also clarified that the organisation of the concert did not involve any government body.

Previously, festivals in Malaysia, like the Bon Odori festival, a Japanese cultural dance celebration held for over four decades, drew attention and controversy.

The Islamist party adviced Muslims not to attend, citing influences from other religions.

There was another incident where a music festival was cancelled after British band The 1975 vocalist Matty Healy kissed a bandmate on stage in protest of Malaysia's anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) laws.

The Malaysian government halted the three-day event aday after and issued a directive through the Communications and Digital Ministry.

British rock legend Coldplay's concert in Malaysia, last year, during Israeli's ongoing bombardment on Gaza also ignited debates and calls for cancellation from conservative leaders, criticising the band's advocacy for the LGBT community as promoting "hedonism and deviant cultures."

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, however, defended Coldplay's performance, emphasising the band's support for Palestinians, aligning with the Malaysian government's stance.

It was also reported that Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan raised concerns over an upcoming concert by Malaysia's sweetheart Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza which was scheduled on March 9, two days before Ramadan.

The Mufti was of the view that it might distract Muslims from spiritual preparations for Ramadan.

Siti however maintained the original date, stating that the concert aimed to raise funds for Palestinian relief efforts and changing the date would cause delays in delivering essential resources to those in need.

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