News

No police permit yet for music festival

The first-ever Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) to be staged in Singapore may not happen after all.

Billed as "the region's largest music festival", the two-day festival boasts the biggest line-up to date and is expected to attract 50,000 revellers.

But it has yet to receive a permit to stage the event at the Changi Exhibition Centre on March 13 and 14.

The police yesterday confirmed that they have rejected the festival organiser's two separate applications for a permit to hold the popular dance music event. The applications were received on Jan 12 and Feb 16.

They were rejected on Jan 29 and Feb 27 respectively.

The police said that the organiser's request for a public entertainment licence was rejected "because of serious concerns with potential drug abuse at the event".

In response to media queries, they mentioned "drug-related activities that had taken place at past Future Music Festival events, including its March 2014 event in Kuala Lumpur that resulted in drug-related deaths and hospitalisations, including several Singaporeans". (See report on right.)

Festival organiser Livescape Singapore has since appealed to the Minister for Home Affairs on March 3.

"The appeal is being considered," said the police.

The event cannot take place unless the police issue the festival a permit.

The New Paper contacted Livescape Singapore last night after we received confirmation that the applications had been rejected, but the organiser was not able to respond to queries at press time.

FIRST TIME HERE

Following the cancellation of the festival's third and final day last year because of suspected drug deaths, FMFA announced last year that the next edition would take place in Singapore.

Jointly organised by Livescape Singapore and Future Music Group Australia, the event is the biggest edition yet, with more than 50 acts, including rap group Public Enemy and popular DJs Avicii and Afrojack.

The Straits Times reported in January that 11,000 tickets had been sold since the festival was announced in November, of which about 30 per cent were bought by fans outside Singapore.

Tickets are priced at $178 (single day) to $228 (two days) and $388 (VIP for two days).

Miss Angel Leow, 24, a Malaysian who is planning to fly to Singapore to attend the festival over two days, said: "If the festival is cancelled, I would be very disappointed and annoyed because I live in Penang and had already made arrangements.

"I had initially heaved a sigh of relief when I heard it was going to Singapore because there is a guarantee that people won't be doing copious amounts of drugs in Singapore.

"So now, I'm just disappointed that Singapore didn't even give the festival a chance."

Another fan who bought a two-day pass, Mr Syed Fahd Ezzat Abu Bakar Alsagoff, 25, said: "If you want to hold a big event, you have to make sure that details like these are sorted out before announcing to the public.

"Those who will be most affected are those who have made plans to travel here."

Ms Nurul Faryhin Fadzal, 25, an accountant, agreed.

She had applied for leave off work specially for the festival.

"Things like these should be confirmed at this point, especially when people have paid money for it," she said.

"If you want to hold a big event, you have to make sure that details like these are sorted out before announcing to the public."

- Mr Syed Fahd Ezzat Abu Bakar Alsagoff

TRAGEDY AT LAST YEAR'S FESTIVAL

THE NEW PAPER ON SUNDAY, MARCH 16, 2014

Touted as one of the biggest electronic dance festivals in South-east Asia, Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) has attracted music lovers from around the region to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which has been the home of the event since 2012.

Last year, the festival was cancelled on the third day following six deaths.

Tragedy struck on March 14, the second night, with a suspected drug-related death after the showcase A State of Trance at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, near Kuala Lumpur.

Another five people who were at the festival died later from suspected drug overdose. All six were Malaysians.

Fifteen foreigners and 14 Malaysians were arrested on site and 16 people were taken to hospital for suspected drug overdose.

SIX S'POREANS

Nine people - six of whom were believed to be Singaporeans - were treated at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre after they collapsed.

A senior Malaysian police officer was quoted in Malaysian news agency Bernama as saying: "The six victims who died were believed to have taken the drug methamphetamine before going to the concert."

After these incidents, festival organiser Livescape Asia chose to cancel the third day of the festival on March 15 "in the interest of public safety".

But the cancellation left thousands of concertgoers, excited to see headliners like Pharrell Williams and Macklemore, unhappy.

An estimated 85,000 people would have attended the RM15 million (S$6 million) three-day festival.

FMFA is the franchise of the popular Australian Future Music Festival, which has been running since 2006. Its Asian counterpart started off as a one-day festival in 2012.

Months after these deaths, the chief executive officer of The Livescape Group, Mr Iqbal Ameer, said that he was "heartbroken" about the deaths.

Singaporemusic