National Council of Churches of Singapore 'relieved to hear' of MHA's decision on Watain concert ban

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam (left) and Watain. (SCREENGRAB: gov.sg/YouTube; PHOTO: WATAIN/Facebook)

The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said on Friday (8 March) that it was “relieved to hear” of the recommendation by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to cancel Swedish black metal band Watain’s concert in Singapore.

In a letter addressed to Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Friday (8 March), Bishop Terry Kee, the president of the NCCS, expressed his appreciation to the minister and the MHA for the “swift and decisive” decision. The letter was uploaded on the council’s website.

The “Watain Live in Singapore” concert was originally scheduled for Thursday at the EBX Live Space.

Kee added that the council shared the same “serious concerns” with the MHA over what the band represented and stood for.

Describing the band’s “sacrilegious attacks on the Christian faith through their songs” as “disruptive and hurtful to the cause of religious harmony”, he also noted that “open endorsement of satanic violence could have deleterious effects on impressionable and restless youths”.

“We fully agree with the MHA’s assessment that the band’s history of denigrating religions and promoting violence has the potential to cause enmity and disrupt Singapore’s social harmony,” Kee said.

(SOURCE: nccs.org.sg)

On Thursday, the IMDA said that Watain’s concert has been cancelled as advised by the MHA.

The concert was initially allowed to take place with a rating of Restricted 18 (R18) with other “stringent requirements” in place, including the removal of religiously offensive songs, references to religion or using religious symbols, and ritualistic acts on stage, added the IMDA spokesperson.

Speaking to reporters at a doorstop interview held at the Ministry of Law on the same day, Shanmugam said allowing the band to have their concert in Singapore will be “against public order interest” and “affect our religious and social harmony”.

“And if you look at the band, they do have a history – very offensive towards Christians, Jews, supportive of violence, including encouraging the burning of churches,” he added.

The last-minute cancellation came after the creation of a petition on Wednesday calling for Watain and Swedish death metal band Soilwork to be banned from performing here. 

Addressing it to the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth, its creator, Rachel Chan, wrote, “These heavy metal bands do not represent the culture which we want in our youths. Their subliminal messages in their songs include death and suicide.”

Some commenters on the petition site had decried the band’s “Satanic and suicide themes” and expressed concern that a concert here would “corrupt” young minds.

As of 8.20pm on Friday, more than 17,600 people have signed the petition.

In response, Watain vocalist Erik Danielsson told Yahoo News Singapore, “(Do) we feel that they are accurate in their accusations? Yes, some of them are. But how to approach such things, we believe, is for each and every grown man and woman to decide for themselves.”

“To say that we advocate self-destruction and suicide is like saying that the gospel of Jesus encourages people to crucify themselves,” he added.

In response to media queries, concert organisers said on Thursday that the Soilwork will perform in Singapore as planned on 29 October.

Related stories:

Watain Singapore concert ban: Our fans can decide for themselves about our music, says band vocalist

Allowing metal band Watain to hold Singapore concert can affect ‘religious and social harmony’: Shanmugam

IMDA cancels Watain’s concert in Singapore due to black metal band’s ‘Satanist views’

Petition calls for ban on 2 Swedish heavy metal bands to perform in Singapore