A live entertainment industry group has urged the police to make public their investigation reports on the Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) 2014.
This followed criticism from a pathologist against the police for not correcting their claim that overdosing on drugs had caused the deaths of six people at the event.
The Association of Arts, Live, International Festivals and Events (Alife) expressed shock over the revelation, and urged the police to make its reports public in the interest of full transparency.
“Since the day of the incident, FMFA has been made as a scapegoat for the decline of the live events industry in Malaysia, particularly when it comes to events that promote the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre.
“Shows with EDM elements have been rejected by authorities for fear of similar drug related deaths recurring,” it said in a statement today.
Although the public had been made to believe that the deaths were due to drug overdose, The Star Online reported earlier today that post-mortem results issued two months after the incident showed the cause to be heatstroke, with drugs playing a negligible role.
Contradicting police statements that all the deaths were linked to drugs, the pathologist involved in the case said two out of the 16 revellers brought to hospital in critical condition did not have any trace of any illegal substance.
Despite this, the authorities did not make the results known and “drug overdose deaths” was used as grounds to cancel several concerts planned for Malaysia recently, besides one in Singapore.
University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) forensic pathology department head Dr K Nadesan said he had sent several detailed reports correcting the police statements.
“Generally, the police did not show much interest in the reports. Unfortunately, they made statements without proper scientific reasons, which is not the right way.
“They should have spoken to us and encouraged an inquest into the case because it is a matter of public interest to prevent similar incidents,” Nadesan told The Star.
The hospital had handled the post-mortem for three of the dead and also treated nine others.
Those who died tested positive for ecstasy or MDMA, but it was much lower than the average recreational level of 0.1 to 0.25 micrograms per millilitre, Nadesan said.
The six, who died after the concert at the Bukit Jalil Stadium on March 15 last year were Kamal Zekry Kamal Basha, 22; Victor Wong E Hern, 26; Sabreena Kamaruddin, 21; M. Suresh, 28; Syazana Sohaime, 23; and Nor Faizza Mohd Wazir, 27.
'Heatstroke caused deaths'
Post-mortem on the “virtually dried up” bodies, including one which had a temperature of 39°C, led Nadesan to rule the deaths were caused by heatstroke.
Two of the nine heatstroke victims had no traces of drugs in their system while the rest tested positive for MDMA, ketamine and morphine.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM), which handled the autopsies for three other victims, declined to reveal the results.
Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Asst Comm Zainuddin Ahmad (photo) confirmed that the sudden death reports for the six had listed heatstroke as the cause.
Nadesan said the conditions during the second day of the festival – a combination of choking haze, high humidity and 35°C temperature – were the main causes of the tragedy.
Some of the victims, especially those who had taken MDMA, became uninhibited and overexerted themselves physically, causing their bodies to lose control in regulating temperatures.
The victims stopped sweating while their bodies experienced disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIVC) which causes internal haemorrhaging, blood clotting and lower oxygen delivery to organs.
Nadesan said the drugs might have in some small way contributed to the deaths but they were not the main cause.
He believes the tragedy could have been averted had the organisers provided adequate access to water and information on how to stay healthy in the harsh weather.