KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian authorities have reversed their decision to cancel a concert by Canadian pop-rock star Avril Lavigne, saying Saturday that she can perform next week despite complaints her act is "too sexy."
The Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry sparked an outcry among music fans when it decided earlier this week not to permit Lavigne's show. The ministry said then that the show was unsuitable for Malaysian culture and could not be held on Aug. 29, two days ahead of independence day, because it might disrupt patriotic celebrations.
The ministry's secretary-general, Muzahet Masruri, said Saturday that authorities decided after talks with the concert organizers that Lavigne "can do the show" next week, even though the government would still have preferred a different date.
Muzahet declined to give a specific reason for the decision, but he said organizers told the government that they had already sold thousands of tickets and that the cancellation could hurt tourism.
The youth wing of a fundamentalist opposition group, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, has called for the show to be canceled, saying Lavigne's performances were "considered too sexy" for this Muslim-majority nation. But officials denied the party influenced their decisions.
The 23-year-old Lavigne, whose hits include "Complicated" and "Girlfriend," is planning to launch her monthlong Asia tour in Kuala Lumpur.
The show's promoter, Galaxy Group, began advertising the Grammy-nominated singer's concert this month, even though it had yet to obtain a government permit, which is mandatory for all foreign music shows. Galaxy officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment Saturday.
The flap over Lavigne's concert is the latest in a string of troubles confronting foreign artists seeking to perform here. Last year, R&B singer Beyonce moved her show from Malaysia to Indonesia, and Christina Aguilera skipped the country on an Asian tour after a controversy erupted over a dress code for foreign artists.
Malaysia requires all performers to wear clothes without obscene or drug-related images and to be covered from the chest to the knees. They must also refrain from jumping, shouting, hugging and kissing on stage.
Still, conservative Muslims often protest against Western and even Malaysian music shows that they consider inappropriate.
The Malaysian organizer of a Pussycat Dolls concert in 2006 was fined $2,857 after the U.S. girl group was accused of flouting decency regulations.