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IMDA points fingers at MHA for having approved Watain concert before cancelling it

MHA had been among the "relevant parties" that IMDA had consulted before it approved the concert.

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The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) has revealed that it had consulted the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) before having given Swedish band Watain the go-ahead to perform here, in a statement released on Tuesday (12 Mar).

Last week, IMDA abruptly cancelled the Watain concert on the same day the band was due to perform. At the time, it had explained that its decision to cancel the concert was for reasons of public order after the Ministry of Home Affairs “expressed serious concerns about the concert, given the band’s history of denigrating religions and promoting violence, which has potential to cause enmity and disrupt Singapore’s social harmony.”

In response to questions by netizens on why the authorities had approved the concert in the first place, IMDA has pointed fingers at MHA and said that the ministry had been among the “relevant parties” that had been consulted before it approved the concert.

IMDA’s cluster director of communications and marketing Karen Low revealed: “Given the band’s history and concerns expressed by MHA, IMDA allowed the Watain concert with a rating of ‘Restricted 18 (R18).

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“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.”

Low said that MHA had suddenly asked IMDA to consider cancelling the concert on the same day it was set to occur, due to “new and serious concerns about public order, and ground reactions relating to social and religious harmony.”

She recounts: “After careful consideration, IMDA agreed to do it.”

After the concert was cancelled, home affairs minister K Shanmugam said that he could not see how the band could have been allowed to perform here, given their anti-Christian song lyrics. He said:

“I saw the lyrics – it’s four-letter words on Jesus Christ, on Christianity, on religion, abusing the cross – everything that is so far out that I can’t see how we could have agreed to it.”

In the aftermath of the concert cancellation, the Catholic Archbishop of Singapore and the National Council of Churches of Singapore are among the individuals, and groups that have commended the government for cancelling the concert.

Other Singaporeans however have decried the cancellation and have criticised authorities for approving the concert in the first place, only to prohibit it later on.

Watain, itself, cursed the “tragic excuse of a government” and “honorless rats” for the abrupt cancellation, in a statement on social media.

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