1980-2000 Asia

1 January 2001

1980s. Pakistan.
Music was banned on PTV, the national tv station in Pakistan.

1980s til today. North Korea
In North Korea, music is controlled by a government which encourages light, state-sponsored music, or music with patriotic worker-driven themes played on radios or in public by large worker’s orchestras. Kim Jong II only permits music that sing the praises of His every move, or otherwise the ideals of communism, and songs have titles like ‘Our Life Is Precisely a Song’, ‘We Shall Hold Bayonettes More Firmly’ and ‘The Joy of Bumper Harvest Overflows Amidst the Song of Mechanisation’.

1980s. China. Teresa Teng (Teresa Deng / Teng Li-chün / Teresa Tang / Dèng Lìjūn)
During the 1970s, when China had just emerged from its cultural revolution, Teresa Teng’s soft singing voice could be heard everywhere in the world where Chinese immigrants lived. Subsequently, her songs, which were touted by Chinese authorities as being “spiritual pollution”, and “decadent”, were banned in the 1980s.
Her songs were so popular in Chinese Karaoke bars, however, that they bypassed the mainland censorship, and it was said that “by day, Deng Xiaoping rules China, but by night, Deng Lijun rules.”
During much of the 1970s and 1980s, the “eternal sweetheart” based herself in Japan and the United States. During her lifetime, she recorded over 100 albums.
She performed in Paris during the 1989 Tiananmen student uprising, singing for the students and proclaiming her support for them and for democracy.
She died 42 years old in 1995 of a severe asthma attack while in Thailand and left a trail of grieving fans the world over. Her old house in Hong Kong, which she bought in 1986, has become a shrine for her fans.
Sources: and

1989. Afghanistan. Farida Mahwash
“She is one of Afghanistan’s living treasures,” said John Baily, a music professor at the University of London and an expert on Afghan music who wrote the Freemuse report about Afghanistan, ‘Can you stop the birds singing’. John Baily has studied Mahwash’s music and visited her in her exiled home in Fremont, USA.
In an article in San Francisco Chronicle, Jonathan Curiel describes her as one of Afghanistan’s most popular female singers in the 1960s and ’70s – that nation’s equivalent of Barbra Streisand or Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1989, Farida Mahwash fled Afghanistan’s civil war and became a refugee, but she remained an exalted figure in her homeland, particularly among older Afghans who remembered her songs that were constantly played on the radio.In music shops around the capital, and in Afghan communities in the United States and Europe, her CDs are still popular sellers, and her voice is sampled by young Afghan singers on dance-oriented recordings.
Mahwash left Afghanistan because the mujahedeen, the warlords, were threatening the government of then. President Mohammad Najibullah seemed on the verge of taking over the capital Kabul, where the famous 38-year-old singer lived.
“The mujahedeen targeted Mahwash because she was a prominent female singer and because she was associated with the government-controlled Radio Afghanistan,” explained John Baily.
Kabul’s government also targeted Mahwash’s family. In the days before she fled, Afghan authorities arrested her husband, Farouk, after he refused to “join them,” and kept him jailed for two days, Mahwash said.
“After she fled to Pakistan, Najibullah’s regime said she had abandoned her country and that the country’s secret police would hunt her down and harm her. Her life was definitely in danger,” Baily said.
Hurrying to leave the country, she sold the family’s five-story house in the center of Kabul for the equivalent of 5,000 US dollars.
When she was in Pakistan, a U.N. official discovered her amid the hundreds of thousands of other Afghan refugees and helped arranged asylum for her in the United States.
In October 2007, Farida Mahwash stepped foot in Afghanistan for the first time in almost two decades to give a series of benefit concerts in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.
Source: San Fransisco Chronicle,, 4 October 2007: ‘A famed Afghan singer to visit her homeland after 20 years’

1997. Singapore. Janet Jackson
American singer Janet Jackson’s album ‘The Velvet Rope’ was banned in Singapore because of songs about abuse, sexuality and homosexuality.

June 1999. Philippines. Geri Halliwell
The Roman Catholic Church in Manila in the Philippines denounced former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell for promoting the use of birth control. Halliwell chose to visit the predominantly Catholic country specifically to target the church’s stance on contraceptives.
Source: Addicted to Noise, 15 June 1999

2000. Vietnam. Lip-synching
The government of Vietnam outlawed the practice of singers using lip-synching while pretending to be performing live. According to the Inter Press Service, the new legislation required all singers, dancers and musicians to obtain a permit before performing live. The controversial new laws would test all entertainers on vocal abilities, music theory, morals and adherence to Communist Party principles. A five-year permit would be granted to those who pass; those who fail would be given a six-month permit. The new laws also prohibited the amendment of lyrics during performances.

May 2000. China. Chang Hui-Mei (known as A–Mei)
Taiwan’s A-mei sells millions of records across the Chinese-speaking world. After she had sung at the inauguration of Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian in May 2000, A-Mei was totally banned from performing and selling records in China. Coca Cola, which had employed her as a poster girl for advertisement, dropped her under pressure from the Chinese government.
Source: Newsweek, 8 January 2001



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