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Singapore Officials Cancel Future Music Festival Asia Over Drug Concerns

Organizers could not escape the shadow of last year's six drug-related deaths in Malaysia.
March 9, 2015, 4:40pm

Singapore has one of the world's toughest anti-drugs stances, with a zero-tolerance approach and widely-enforced death penalty for traffickers. This week, local authorities proved how seriously they take concerns over drug use at music festivals, shutting down Future Music Festival Asia a week before its scheduled run. Organizers announced the festival's cancellation on their official Facebook page, noting that its last-ditch appeal for an entertainment license had been denied. 15,000 tickets were sold for the festivals first edition in Singapore, which was to feature Avicii, Afrojack, Fatboy Slim, Art Department and Gorgon City. All ticket-holders will be issued full refunds.

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Future Music Festival, which began in Australia, has held its Asian edition in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur for the last three years. However, last year's event was cancelled on its final day after six drug-related deaths, six hospitalizations, and 29 arrests for drug-related charges. The festival announced its move to neighboring Singapore in November last year, but the Singapore Police Force said they rejected two separate applications for a permit "because of serious concerns with potential drug abuse at the event."

Organizers pushed back, writing on Facebook that the Malaysia deaths "were isolated incidents that took place outside Singapore, which cannot and do not carry any implication that FMFA is linked to drug use or drug abuse."

"FMFA firmly stands behind our goal of creating a drug-free event for our festival goers to enjoy," they continued, noting the festival had in place "a robust event, security, safety and medical management plan… developed alongside both local and international experts with a combined 50 years of experience in running similar large-scale events."

But Future Music Festival Asia's cancellation falls in line with the Ministry of Home Affairs' announcement last week that it is making drug use among Singaporean youth a top priority. Despite its harsh anti-drug laws, Singapore has seen a rise in arrests for users under the age of 30, which increased from 29 percent in 2010 to 34 percent in 2014. The government will continue "keeping an eye" on music festivals, said Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli. For now, disappointed ticket-holders can look forward to ZoukOut and Laneway, the two major dance events that still have a foothold in Singapore--for now.

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