Malaysia-Singapore football in trouble over song, dance

June 18th, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 18 (IANS) The Sultan of Selangor Cup football matches between Malaysia and Singapore are in jeopardy over protests by Islamist youth against the planned song and dance performances by top Malaysian pop artists. Protests similar to the ones witnessed during the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches in India last month have been threatened by the youth wing of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) when the matches begin July 6.

But Malaysian authorities are not yielding and have threatened to take the matches to neighbouring Singapore.

Rock Queen Ella, singer Mas Idayu and Indian origin singer David Armugam of Aleycats are scheduled to perform at the opening of the matches.

An upset sultan of Selangor, the royal constitutional head, has threatened to call off the matches between his state and Singapore if the protest by the state PAS Youth against the artistes performing for the event went ahead, The Star said Wednesday.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah described the protest over the planned performances as “hypocritical” and “trivial”.

He said there were more important issues that the party could focus on.

Ella said PAS was being “judgmental”, while family audiences had welcomed her performances.

The problem is partly political in that PAS, part of the opposition alliance that rules in Selangor state, aims to usher in an Islamic state, something opposed by other alliance members.

“If this is going to be so difficult, we might as well hold this annual event in Singapore. I am sure they will be more than happy to play host,” the sultan told The Star.

On Monday, Selangor PAS Youth submitted a memoradum to the Selangor mentri besar’s (chief minister) office to protest against plans to have Ella and Mas Idayu perform at the match.

State PAS Youth chief Sallehen Mokhyi said the movement felt that performances by the singers were inappropriate as it would be attended by many youngsters.

The youth wing threatened to stage a demonstration at the Shah Alam Stadium if Ella and Mas Idayu were allowed to performed.

The sultan said Tuesday that the artistes were good entertainers and the organisers felt they would be able to entertain the people before the match began.

“The organising committee even planned for the performance by the singers to end before the evening prayers. They are performers suitable for the family and I don’t know what the fuss is all about,” he said.

“The idea of holding the performance is to create goodwill and bring the people together before the match. Sports and music bring people together,” the sultan added.

Football is a highly popular game in Malaysia and is patronised by its royalty.

This is the seventh edition of the cup organised to enhance friendly ties with Singapore.

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