KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government has cancelled a music festival scheduled to take place on Redang Island next weekend, but left the door open to organisers to appeal the decision, provided they agree to abide by local guidelines.
This comes after netizens in a Facebook group were riled up by a 30-second promotional video of the event - which featured bikini-clad girls on the beach, a club scene, and participants enjoying other activities such as Yoga, snorkelling and beach volleyball - and called for the event to be cancelled.
"At the exco meeting, we decided that this event should not go on, because it is immoral and goes against Eastern culture," said state exco for tourism, culture and information technology Ariffin Deraman after the weekly exco meeting here on Wednesday (Oct 3).
He said the event could lead to moral degradation, especially when alcohol is served.
"We've heard of all sorts of vice taking place for as long as the event has been held over the last five years," he said.
"If we do not put a stop to this, our image as the state government will be tarnished," said the PAS lawmaker, who is also Alor Limbat assemblyman.
However, he said the door is still open for organisers to meet with the state government to discuss if the show can go on.
"It could be considered if organisers agree to our terms but for now, they do not have the permit to hold the event," he said.
In an immediate response, the Island Music Festival 2018 organisers said that they are willing to comply with the Terengganu Tourism Department's new guidelines on stage shows, including ensuring that only men perform for a mixed audience.
A representative from the event organiser said they are willing to meet state government representatives to discuss the festival, which was supposed to take place from Oct 12 to 14.
"I will be meeting them to clarify any misconceptions and explain that we intend to follow the new guidelines," said the representative, adding that it was never in their agenda to contravene any guidelines.
The representative said there was a need to clear the air about the festival, as it has been "misconstrued" as unhealthy.
The representative said it was the calls by angry netizens that prompted the state government to red light the festival, despite having the necessary letters from the Tourism Ministry, the police, the Fire and Rescue Department, as well as the Kuala Terengganu City Council.
"The event is not catering just for the people in Terengganu, but mainly for people coming from outside," said the representative, adding that it was designed to be a small-scale event promoting music, Redang Island tourism, and activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling and beach sports.
The Island Music Festival, a three-day, two-night event, has taken place every year at Long Beach, Redang Island since 2013.
On Tuesday (Oct 2), the Terengganu Tourism Department released 11 guidelines for performances in the state.
Other than gender separation, which is exempted for shows aimed at children, the guidelines also recommend for musical performances to be held after Isyak prayers (usually after 8pm), and end by midnight.
Among recommendations suggested in the guidelines include separation of men and women onstage and in the audience.
Music performances should also be conducted separately with female singers and dancers are only allowed to perform to female audiences behind closed doors.
Organisers are also tasked to ensure men and women who are not of kin must not mix too freely with each other.