Late MHA request to reconsider led to concert cancellation

Swedish black metal band Watain, whose 2013 album The Wild Hunt topped the Swedish music charts, were set to play their debut Singapore concert on March 7, 2019.
Swedish black metal band Watain, whose 2013 album The Wild Hunt topped the Swedish music charts, were set to play their debut Singapore concert on March 7, 2019.PHOTO: WATAIN/ FACEBOOK

We thank Forum writers Mr Stephen Chua (IMDA's initial green light for band baffling), Prof Sattar Bawany (Why didn't IMDA check with MHA regarding concert?) and Mr Lim Boon Seng (Tighten concert approval process) for their feedback on the cancellation of the Watain concert and the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) concert licence approval process.

IMDA had consulted relevant parties including the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) before classifying the Watain concert.

Given the band's history and concerns expressed by MHA, IMDA allowed the Watain concert with a rating of "Restricted 18 (R18)".

IMDA also imposed stringent requirements including the removal of songs which are religiously offensive, that the band could not make references to religion or use religious symbols, and that no ritualistic acts were to be performed on stage.

This is consistent with IMDA's treatment of similar performances in the past.

In assessing and classifying content for arts performances and concerts, IMDA aims to protect the young from unsuitable content, maintain community norms and values, and safeguard public interest, while enabling adults to make informed choices.

On March 7, the day that the Watain concert was due to take place, MHA asked IMDA to consider cancelling the Watain concert due to new and serious concerns about public order, and ground reactions relating to social and religious harmony.

After careful consideration, IMDA agreed to do it.

Karen Low (Ms)

Cluster Director, Communications & Marketing

Infocomm Media Development Authority

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Late MHA request to reconsider led to concert cancellation'. Print Edition | Subscribe