Syed Saddiq Explains Why International Artistes Keep Skipping Malaysia For Concerts
Malaysia hasn't always been on the radar when it comes to hosting big concerts, unlike neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong
Take Taylor Swift, for example, who is set to perform multiple shows in Singapore, completely skipping Malaysia this year.
Or Coldplay, who sold out their one-night concert in Kuala Lumpur in November, and yet only extended their concert dates in Singapore.
Let's not even start on Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Adele, Charlie Puth, or any other big time artiste, most of whom are heading to other countries in Asia, except Malaysia.
"It's depressing," Muar member of parliament (MP) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said on a recent podcast when asked why international performers keep avoiding Malaysia
"Whether it's K-pop, whether it's Coldplay, whether it's Taylor Swift, we should open up our doors to the world because when they pick Malaysia as a destination of choice, Malaysia becomes a destination of choice for entertainment tourism," he said in a recent video interview on The Takeaway Table.
"I see the value in entertainment tourism, and we cannot afford to lose out on things like this," he added.
Addressing the topic of entertainment tax in Malaysia, Saddiq shared that he gets frustrated as it is extremely high, making it difficult for organisers to make money
"When I was Minister of Youth and Sports, one of the first things I did [was table] a cabinet paper to waive entertainment tax when events are hosted in Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, and Sepang International Circuit. Why? Besides the bureaucracy, we have a 25% entertainment tax!" he revealed.
"You think it's easy for these concert organisers to make money if you have a 25% entertainment tax? While in other countries like Singapore, they are clever. They don't even wait for Taylor Swift to come. Their inter-ministries, like two or three agencies, came together, pulled a fund, went abroad, and signed all-exclusive deals to come to Singapore and perform [for] five or six days. We have a lot to learn," he added.
He went on to explain that in their minds, they [Singapore] view it as "though I'm initially spending SGD1 (RM3.40), I can make SGD5 (RM17)".
"We need to start thinking as an entrepreneur and stop being so afraid and close-minded to a point that our country loses the potential," he explained.
It's not just about K-pop or foreign artistes, Saddiq added on, but it's about our local artistes as well
"Our local artistes, our local films, they are complaining as well, you know? How are they going to make money? Now it's very hard to stimulate our local arts industry. Above and beyond that, when they make a little bit of profit, there's 25% tax. Mati!" he said.
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The Ministry of Communications and Digital (KKD) recently announced the tightening of entry laws surrounding foreign artistes in Malaysia:
Saddiq previously spoke up about Malaysia's missed opportunity regarding the addition of more Coldplay concert dates: