ALIFE chairman questions why Sharul Channa’s show was axed after greenlight from authorities

In the wake of the abrupt cancellation of Sharul Channa’s special – Just Joking! – Malaysia’s Arts, Live Festivals and Events Association (ALIFE) is wondering how this will affect the live entertainment scene in the country.

Its chairman, R. Paramanathan, also questioned the thoroughness of the authorities’ vetting process, as Sharul, a comic from Singapore, had earlier received clearance to perform at PJ Live Arts in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, on May 18.

At the eleventh hour, the Central Agency for Application of Filming and Performance by Foreign Artists (Puspal) and police, revoked her licence to perform.

Sharul claimed several police reports were lodged against her for allegedly touching on the ‘3Rs’ (race, religion and royalty) during her performance, back in 2018.

Sharul posted a video on her social media, saying she had assured the authorities that her May 18 routine would not touch on religion, race, or royalty.

She also posted on Instagram that apparently, some had taken offence to the title of her 2018 show – ‘Halal-certified Comedian’ – and had lodged police reports against her.

She added that the title had been approved by Malaysian censors for the 2018 Comedy Central’s Stand Up Asia show. That was why she and the channel uploaded the show online.

“It’s deeply disconcerting for the live events industry when a few police reports from individuals whose motives are unclear, can result in the cancellation of a stand-up comedy show,” said Paramanathan.

“Malaysia has a tedious permit application process and strict performance guidelines. The organisers must guarantee that all show guidelines are adhered to.

“This last-minute cancellation raises many questions about why and how approvals are revoked.”

ALIFE was founded in May 2014 to represent companies which conceive, develop, manage, host, support, and promote live events in Malaysia, from the arts, festivals, to concerts and others.

In the past decade, it has held many discussions with Puspal.

“ALIFE has been in dialogue with Puspal since our formation 10 years ago. We are willing to work hand-in-hand to ensure that this industry thrives and realises its fullest potential,” added Paramanathan.

Last year, Communications Minister Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil urged Puspal to improve its policies for stage performers.

This came after the Good Vibes Festival (GVF) controversy, which saw the British band 1975 blacklisted from performing in Malaysia after its lead singer Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws onstage, and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald.

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