No drug-free assurance, so music event had to be axed

No drug-free assurance, so music event had to be axed
South Korean rapper Psy performing for fans at the Future Music Festival Asia, held at Sepang International Circuit over 15 and 16 March 2013.

Dance music event Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) had to be cancelled because organisers could not assure the authorities that they would implement measures to prevent drug-related activities, Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament.

He said the police and Central Narcotics Bureau had engaged organisers on several occasions to assess their security plan.

The drug-related activities associated with past FMFA events also gave the police serious concerns about potential drug abuse at the concert, which was to have been held at the Changi Exhibition Centre on March 13 and 14.

Its organisers announced the cancellation days before the event, on March 8.

Replying to a question from Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) on FMFA's cancellation, Mr Masagos said: "It would have been irresponsible to allow it to be held in Singapore without adequate safeguards and assurances.

"The event would also not have been consistent with our zero-tolerance stance towards drugs."

These considerations led to the police's decision to reject the application for the FMFA to be held here.

The FMFA, launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2012 and staged there in 2013 and last year, is a spin-off from the Future Music Festival (FMF) that was established in Australia in 2006.

Last year, the FMFA held in Kuala Lumpur was cancelled on the last day after six people died and 14 were hospitalised because of drug abuse at the event. Two of those hospitalised were Singaporeans.

The FMF in Sydney this year saw 177 concertgoers facing charges of possessing or supplying drugs at the event.

The event's track record was therefore very clear, Mr Masagos said, and it would be remiss of the authorities to ignore it altogether.

"Imagine if this incident had taken place and, on the last day like in Malaysia, deaths occurred and we had to cancel it," he said. "What would our explanation be in Parliament today?"

Singapore has managed to keep drug abuse under control precisely because of its firm stance against drugs, he said.

"This approach should extend to any event that is to be held in Singapore... We want a reputation for Singapore to be a place with music festivals where people can enjoy themselves in a safe and trouble-free manner."


This article was first published on April 14, 2015.
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