The New Year Raid: Press Conference Report
It was a good meet, pretty charged up too, especially when the attendees cheered the speakers on at every good point raised. But I was about 30 minutes late, so I didn’t hear the beginning part of the talk. There must be about 100 to 150 fellow indie/diy musicians & activists there in the venue so it’s pretty packed, and the crowd includes the more well-known “personalities” such as two Malaysian Idol contestants!
Basically there were kids from every part of the scene, right from the staunchly DIY punk/HC sector, to the regulars on ROTTW magazine, to more political Food Not Bombs and UBU, to old slowhands such as Julian Mokhtar & Peter Hassan Brown. It felt right. So yeah, we have our differences but this thing affects everybody and if you keep taking these senseless authoritarian blows without fighting back, then you’re pretty much fucked, no matter if your DIY or die or Rock The World worshippers.
If you’ve been to Paul’s Place you should know the lay-out of the area, and at the press conference today, the usual “viewing angle” was reversed. So instead of people on the floor keeping their eyes dead straight to the stage, they were all standing and watching/listening to a line of representatives sitting on chairs at the back of the venue (where the the mixing desk and fridge were). Sorry people, I didn’t have my camera with me.
Anyway, the representatives faced the media and behind the media, the crowd. So all see was the representatives; from the left: Jasklyn (activist), Paul, Julian Mokhtar (The Bues Gang! GODZ!), Encik Rafil (360DHR), some guy I don’t know, then the singer from Second Combat (can’t remember his name now), a lawyer (was his name Amir?) and Azmyl Yunor.
From what I heard almost all the print media and TV were there (including BBC World Service), apart from Harian Metro! Maybe the talk (mostly in English) could have blown their tiny minds to bits, so they have wisely avoided injuries there. Anyway, a lot of points raised, some typical ones which actually common sense anyway. But the lawyer talked a lot about how the police has abused their power, illegally detaining people without proper procedures and overstepping their limits. One main point was that they didn’t charge the detainees with anything or declare that they were under arrest before taking them onto the trucks, and that’s basically illegal. That is wrongful arrest. One woman said that she asked a policeman whether they had a warrant to do what they were doing and the reply was, “this is not (some other country), we don’t need a warrant!”
The lawyer read a police report by one woman who said that she was at the stall having a meal with her husband and friends when the police came and took all of them to the police station! Huh?
Medec of the veteran grindcore band Negation blasted the journalists for their biased reportage or the lack of responsibility, the lack of proper research and balanced, well-informed articles. He also touched upon the art of raising kids, as he has two young ones, in terms of having a more open attitude about things the kids are facing.
I think Mark from Soundscape Records suggested upon forming an organisation of sorts to counter this in the future and Medec point out the fact that the scene is made up of all races and that it’s much, much healthy than realiti shows such as Akademi Fantasia which catered and featured mainly for the Malays.
And it went on, with Jacklyn touching about human rights issues etc. All in, pretty damn good stuff really. Kudos to all the panellists, they did a very good job indeed. I think at the very least they have delivered the message that the scenesters are no pushovers; that we are not going to take it squatting down like the authorities want it. That we are not stupid and we know our rights etc. I just hope the media who were there would be good enough to concentrate on the finer points of it all and feature a good argument on behalf of the scene.
So yeah, do check out the media in the next few days, or maybe tonight too. One of the detainees told me that when they were all at the police station, huddled together on the tarmac, they ignored the police call for them to quiet down and loudly cheered the new year countdown, watching the fireworks going off in the sky, hugging each other etc. It’s going to be a memorable new year for them all; something to tell the grandchildren one day.
and so, thanks to all who were there and lent their support for the effort. Thanks to Rafil and gang for putting it all together.