This has happened. The cancellation was brought about by the organisers failing to obtain a Public Entertainment Licence for the event. Rumours are circulating that the police had concerns about possible drug abuse during FMFA based on the drug overdose deaths at last year’s event in Malaysia. Was this a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the authorities? Was this a message to FMFA that there was no place for the festival in the region in light of last year’s fatalities? Of course, no official explanations were given but from the perspective of the authorities, it is perhaps understandable that anyone granting the licence would be sweating on there being no repeat of last year’s tragedies.
Without any access to what went on behind the scenes, it seems a terrible waste of resources that the festival was allowed to market FMFA and sell tickets even though the licence was not yet obtained. Was there any dialogue at all between the two sides as to what could be done to achieve some level of comfort that the police would accept in order for the festival to proceed? Should the organisers have alerted ticket buyers to the possible risk of the festival being denied a licence? Moving forward what can be done to balance the needs of public safety and organisers’ commercial concerns?
Obviously, this is bad news for the FMFA organisers and the ticket buyers but in the bigger scheme of things what does it mean for organisers of large scale events in Singapore? Is this an isolated incident based purely on last year’s festival? Or is this emblematic of the a more conservative approach adopted by the authorities? Well, surely, there will be doubts in the minds of similar festival organisers about the viability of Singapore as a proper venue in the future.
So, one-off or a dangerous precedent? Hopefully the former but we shall have to wait and see…