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MY misses out on 'economic lottery' with Coldplay: What needs to change?

MY misses out on 'economic lottery' with Coldplay: What needs to change?

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British rock band, Coldplay has been a hot topic of conversation this week as it became the first act to ever play six nights at Singapore’s National Stadium. Initially set to only play for four nights, the overwhelming response to the ticket sales compelled organisers to add two additional dates.

Undoubtedly, the six-day extravaganza is set to be hugely beneficial for Singapore as it is expected to see fans coming to the city from all around Asia. However, across the pond, Malaysia is lamenting the band’s decision to play only one night which pales in comparison to its neighbour as it considers many of the economic benefits that would have come with such a huge presence in the country.

Malaysian politician, Syed Saddiq deemed this to be a ‘missed economic lottery’ for Malaysia, stating that while other countries are seizing such opportunities, Malaysia is facing more obstacles in doing so. One such is obstacle is when a political leader from the Malaysian Islamist party, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Nasrudin Hassan, called for Coldplay’s concert last November to be cancelled. Hassan took to Facebook to question the government on encouraging a culture of perversion, while the post was accompanied by images of the lead vocalist, Chris Martin holding a rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

His post went on to add that the concert will add no benefit to religion, race and country.

This begs the question of whether Malaysia needs to alter its presentation to be more greatly accepted as a hospitable hub that the globe can look to, particularly as it looks to be a more globalised hub. 

Recently, Malaysian minister of investment, trade and industry Zafrul Abdul Aziz said he was looking to have tech giants such as Microsoft and Google set up operations in Malaysia. This is as the government looks to make Malaysia a data and tech hub.

Additionally, more companies such as Amazon Web Services and Tesla have bene investing in the country. But is Malaysia ready?

Don't miss: MY's single Coldplay show a 'missed economic lottery' compared to SG's six, says Syed Saddiq

The global perception of Malaysia

Managing director at DIABrands, Sutapa Bhattacharya said that there is quite a difference in the way Malaysia sees itself and how the world views Malaysia. “While Malaysians are friendly, welcoming and more liberal than is believed by outsiders, the world beyond sees a Malaysia that is ridden with political and corrupt legacies, racial barriers and definitely conservative,” she said.

In this respect, she added, whether conservative or not, Singapore has successfully built an image of being pro-business success and a provider of an unshackled business environments with law enforcement and safety.

“Whereas over the years, Malaysia has been more ambiguous about foreign arrivals, except for tourism. Singapore realises that it needs foreign capital and spending on its shores to drive the economy” she explained.

M&C Saatchi’s founder and CEO, Lara Hussein agreed by saying that because of the country’s demographics, it has limited entertainment offers since artists largely do not want to be bound by restrictions. Inevitably, she said that this leads to the country missing out on capitalising the opportunity by growing its soft power. Additionally, Hussein pointed out that restrictions should not stand as a barrier to people receiving cultural education, which poses to be the bigger problem here. Saying that, she does think that change is soon to come with PM Anwar Ibrahim in office.

She added:

Such regulations create the perception that Malaysia is not progressive but PM Anwar’s liberalist approach provides the reassurance that this perception will change.

In fact, PM Anwar took to Twitter in May to write a welcome note to the band. “Welcome to Kuala Lumpur” it read. In another clip he said, “Welcome Coldplay. Let us work together, protect our environment and keep the world safe.”

When it comes to inclusivity, Hussein believes that Malaysia is balancing the fine act of being inclusive while respecting Islamic values. On the agency front, even though this limits sponsorship opportunities, she does not think it limits Malaysian agencies’ potential. “Creatively, we are bound by strict regulations, language and clothing but we abide by these codes because it is a silent agreement between clients and agencies,” she said.

Regardless, Hussein thinks that Malaysia is strategically placed, well-versed, resilient and has strong and modern infrastructure which makes the country very attractive for investment.

Related articles: 
MY's single Coldplay show a 'missed economic lottery' compared to SG's six, says Syed Saddiq
Coldplay comes to Asia: Quick thinking brands joining in on the fun
MY Digital Economy Corporation to attract billions in investments from London Tech Week

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