Parliament: Revoking concert licence a valid move, say MPs

Several MPs backed the move to ban Watain's performance, but hoped there will not be a repeat of the last-minute cancellation.

Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) said revoking the concert licence was a valid move. "The track record of Watain and its nonchalance towards acts of terrorism, and going beyond its onstage satanic rituals into the realm of lawlessness and criminal activity are, to say the least, very disturbing."

But while singer Erik Danielsson's blatant anti-Christian views and his encouragement of church burning are highly alarming and offensive, it was unfortunate the decision came just before the event.

"For that, an apology is due... But for the Government to go ahead with the concert just because it was initially approved, after knowing what it now knows, would have been a wrong decision," she said.

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) said it was ironic the cancellation brought far more attention to the band. He noted local black metal bands had been around for years and foreign black metal bands had been allowed to perform. "How will the IMDA assess applications for black metal groups in future?" he asked.

"Instead of a hard policy such as bans, a graduated approach (with) a range of conditions like that done by IMDA in its original assessment of the Watain concert would better reflect the compromises required to create and sustain as accommodating and robust a common public space as possible," he said.

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam replied that the population is dynamic. "Reactions change over periods of time. And we have to assess it with the facts we have." He added there was no change in how agencies approached these issues.


Nominated MP Terence Ho suggested the agencies responsible for licensing coordinate better to prevent last-minute decision changes.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is concerned with the maintenance of racial and religious harmony as it can impact public order.

"In the ban on Watain, there is no value judgment on black metal music," she said. "MHA was principally concerned about the words and the message... put out by the band, and the feelings, in this case, from the mainstream Christian community. It was not a value judgment on the genre of music."

Eddino Abdul Hadi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2019, with the headline 'Revoking concert licence a valid move: MPs'. Print Edition | Subscribe