The clamor that emerged on the set of The 1975’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) seems to have taken on a life of its own when lead singer Matt Healy took the stage in July to address the Malaysian government over conservative LGBTQ+ laws. . The British gang at the center of the controversy has shown no signs of letting go of what is happening in Malaysia and is instead fueling the fire.
As the group returned to the stage at Chicago’s Lollapalooza last Friday, Healy took the opportunity to make fun of GVF and Malaysia. According to media reports, he asked the crowd, “Want my travel tip? Don’t go to…” is interrupted by his bandmates with the introduction of their song, ‘It’s not living if it’s not with you.
Later, on the set, he saw Tom DeLonge, a member of the American band Blink-182, in the crowd and went over to hug him and kiss him. Delonge later posted on Instagram, “I think ‘myself’ and ’75 won’t go to Malaysia – just a couple of guys kissing on their spectacular sets.”
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Undoubtedly, with international acts such as The 1975 and Blink-182 attacking Malaysia’s conservative values at large-scale events such as Lollapalooza, audiences ignorant of Malaysia will not have a very positive impression of the country.
With the growing news and now, with Future Sound Asia seeking compensation from the British music group, how will this affect Malaysia’s brand positioning?
Impact on Malaysian economy
Negative advertising of unfortunate events like this can deter those who value cultural openness. According to Ashvin Anamalai, CEO of DNA Creative Communications, this will raise concerns about Malaysia’s social environment among foreign investors. “It can damage the fabric of a country’s reputation as a whole,” he said, referring to the fact that progressive values such as acceptance of minority communities are a crucial aspect of diversity and inclusion.
This could create a domino effect where negative perceptions of Malaysia’s cultural and social environment can dampen investor confidence, especially among businesses that also value diversity and inclusion.
Anamalai added that the government’s response and efforts to promote inclusion will play a role in shaping investor sentiment and FDI results. “Countries with a more open and inclusive reputation can gain a competitive advantage over Malaysia in attracting FDI,” he said.
This should be particularly noted as Malaysia has opened itself up to more foreign investors such as Tesla, which recently launched in the country, and Microsoft and Google, which are in talks to open stores in Malaysia.
Precious Communications market leader Joey Gan agrees with Anamalai, noting that the spread of misconceptions about Malaysian tolerance will affect the country’s brand positioning. First, international sentiment may suffer, as the incident could color the views of people unaware of Malaysia and spread a completely preconceived notion about the country. But he believes this will not hinder the flow of investment. “Business communities value other aspects beyond diversity and inclusion, such as tax incentives and diverse frameworks, so they will need to view Malaysia as a whole before judging them,” he said.
Does Malaysia need to fix the record?
When the news gets big and sensational, people can jump to conclusions. Malaysia’s conservative values may be having a negative effect in the west, but inside the country, the reality is quite different. “Healy’s actions have brought Malaysians together in unity against behavior they perceive as inappropriate. This shared sentiment took a collective stance on cultural values and emphasized the importance of respecting local traditions and sensitivities.”
He added that this underlines Malaysia’s commitment to its cultural identity and should be an invitation for cultural exchange that will enhance the authenticity of Malaysian tourism. “Malaysia has this wonderful thing with its conservative values. It’s like holding on to the threads of a cultural tapestry as the world turns faster and faster. Adhering to values strengthens unity in diversity and Malaysia can be a cultural ambassador,” explained Anamalai.
Gan added that it’s crucial to take the sensational news with a pinch of salt. Standing by the fact that Malaysia is tolerant and hospitable, he also stated that it has more pressing agendas to deal with. The immaturity of 1975 should not divert attention from other issues that Malaysia should pay attention to, such as the struggle for gender equality, refugees and health crises. said:
“As a developing country we have different priorities and we need to focus on what is more urgent.”
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