Singaporean Music Fans Arrested In Malaysia For Taking Part In 'Illegal' Black Metal Concert

January 5, 2006

Seto Nu-Wen of Singapore's The Electric New Paper has issued the following report:

They had gone to Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] to watch a Singaporean band perform at a New Year's Eve concert.

But the six Singaporeans and one of the Singapore band members ended up staying overnight at a police station.

The rest of the four-piece band escaped arrest.

Two of the band members were at a friend's place in KL having a nap, while another band member was stuck in traffic on the way from Singapore.

Malaysian police say the youngsters were rounded up for being part of an illegal black metal concert at Jalan Klang Lama near Mid Valley Mall, about half an hour's drive from KL.

They also say the concert organisers did not have a permit.

However, the seven Singaporeans arrested said they were not even at the concert when the raid happened at about 10.30pm last Saturday night.

The concert started at 7.30pm and was supposed to last into the wee hours of Sunday.

Each ticket cost between RM7 ($3) to RM15.

A member of the Singaporean band, who declined to be identified, told The New Paper they were invited to play because they were "close friends" with one of the organisers.

He declined to disclose how much they were paid to perform.

They had driven up in a group of about 10 on Friday night and were staying at a friend's house in KL.

He said that at about 8.30pm he dropped by at the venue, which, he said, was on the groundfloor of a renovated three-storey shophouse.

"There were about 300 to 400 people dancing and listening to the music. It looked just like a typical rock concert," he said.

Since the band was only scheduled to perform at around midnight, he joined six other Singaporean friends at a roadside stall, about 50m away from the concert venue.

One of them, a 26-year-old nurse who only wanted to be known as Lynn, told The New Paper: "While we were eating, we saw a police van pull up at a pub near where we were sitting.

"A group of plain clothes police officers went in and raided the place. Later, they came over to the foodstall and started rounding people up. [See photo at this location.]

"The officer did not identify himself. He just asked us for identification. We told them were Singaporeans and that we only had our passports. He demanded to see them."

Lynn said the officers ordered her group and a few others sitting nearby to get into a police van.

"In our group, there were three men and four women. We were separated into two groups — the women in a police van with bars and the men in a huge truck," she said.

"We saw at least 100 other teenagers also being rounded up. We asked the officer what we had done but they wouldn't tell us."

She said they were taken to the Brickfields police station, about 15 minutes away.

"There were about 15 of us in the station, including a group of Japanese teenagers. The police officer then asked two of my friends and me to go into separate rooms for questioning," she said.

"He was polite and calm. He asked me why I was there and whether I knew what music was going on. I told him I wasn't even at the concert and we were all just waiting for our friends to play."

Lynn said it lasted about 45 minutes.

The officer also asked if she had taken any drugs and made everyone take a urine test.

She added that throughout the night, they had to sit on chairs in the station. They were given only water but no food, and she had gastric pain.

At about 6am the next day, they were released. The officer told them they would not be charged.

Lynn and her friends drove back to Singapore later that night.

"We wanted to leave earlier, but we hadn't had much sleep so we went back to our friend's place in KL to take a nap," she said.

Her friend, the Singaporean band member, said his band does not play black metal music.

"We are a ska band. We don't have long hair or do drugs. That night, we were dressed in brightly-coloured shirts," he said.

He said his band members do not take drugs.

"For the last four years, we have done about 10 gigs in KL. We've never had problems like this before. We don't even know what we did wrong," he said.

Brickfields police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim told Malaysian newspapers that the concert was raided as it contained "negative and violent elements."

About 380 people, including 70 women, were arrested. Out of them, eight tested positive for drugs.

ACP Dzuraidi said five men aged between 19 and 35, believed to be the organisers, will also be charged for not having a licence and for possessing illegally-printed material.

He added that products, CDs and casettes, ideology books and T-shirts relating to black metal bands were seized. [See photo at this location.]

However, performers and organisers say they were not playing black metal. Some of the organisers also say they may take legal action against the police for wrongful arrests.

Mr Amir Hamzah Arshad, a lawyer and part-time musician, told the Malay Mail: "If there are grounds to take legal action against the police, we may consider it."

He said some fans who were arrested had lodged police reports about the officers' conduct during the raid.

Added one of the concert emcees, record label owner Mohd Iskandar Zulkarnain: "We are not black metal followers. We are independent musicians who want to express our music."

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