Artists, particularly female artists from Western nations, need to think twice about booking shows in Malaysia. Avril Lavigne’s August 29 concert in Kuala Lumpur at the Stadium Merdeka was canceled by the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry since her performance and dress “may taint the Muslim-majority country’s independence day celebrations after the Islamic opposition slammed her show as being too sexy,” according to the Associated Press. The show was scheduled for two days before the country’s independence day celebration.
The country has what western artists feel may be repressive rules and regulations for performances. Malaysia requires all performers to wear clothes without obscene or drug-related images and be covered from the chest to the knees. They must also refrain from jumping, shouting, hugging and kissing on stage.
“It is not timely. It’s not in the good spirit of our National Day,” Shukran Ibrahim, a senior official from the culture ministry’s department that vets all foreign artists, told the AP. “If we go ahead with the concert, it is contrary to what we are preparing for.”
The show’s promoter, Galaxy Group, can request a new date for the concert, which will be considered by the ministry, Shukran said. The show was reportedly about half sold-out in advance at the time of the cancellation.
Malayasia has not been a popular tour destination for other western artists in the past. R&B singer Beyonce moved her show from Malaysia to Indonesia while Christina Aguilera skipped the country after a controversy erupted over a dress code for foreign artists.
Asia has become one of the great untapped tour destinations with China starting to be a stop on a lot of world tours. Lavigne still has six Chinese concerts on the books.