KUALA LUMPUR: People reacted with shock and anger after it was revealed that the six people who died in last year’s Festival Asia 2014 (FMFA) suffered heatstroke and not drug overdoses.
The term FMFA began trending on Twitter after The Star front paged the story, with people questioning how the police could have allowed the misconception to go on for a year.
“This is ridiculous! For the past year the authorities trumpeted ‘drug abuse’ and used that to ban music festivals at the last minute. Tarnished Malaysia’s reputation for raves in Asia. When all we needed was better education, and cheaper access to water!” said Anuradha Raghu on The Star Online’s Facebook page.
In the same thread, Francis Tan wrote: “We need to trust our authorities but this is why some of us don’t.”
Lawyers for Liberty campaign coordinator Michelle Yesudas questioned why the “myth” of drug overdoses at the festival was not corrected on her Twitter account.
“The primary weapon used in the war on drugs is not drugs but misinformation, paranoia and power abuse. RIP FMFA 6,” she said.
Twitter user Fazli Taufek felt the organisers of the festival were to blame for the deaths.
“They should be blamed for the deaths. Water sold out. No ample drinking fountains, no mist or water spray. Plus the haze,” he said.
However, several readers said some of those who died were still proven to have been high on ecstasy and should have known better.
“0.1 or 0.25mpm is still drugs. Ecstasy makes people hyper, heartbeat gets faster and the music makes the mind forget your body is already dehydrated,”
“You will forget about drinking water because you are high,” said Roy Azizul, ending with a simple message, “Don’t take drugs.”
Noonsod Rawaulam, criticised the article on the Star Online’s Facebook page, saying that the report made light of the negative effects of drugs.
“When the doctor dismissed drugs as the main cause and stressed on access to drinking water, is he saying its okay to do drugs during concerts/raves as long as you drink enough water?” she asked.
Arts, Live, International Festivals and Events (Alife), the association representing the Malaysian entertainment industry and concert organisers urged the police to release the investigation findings into the FMFA deaths.
Alife said it was “shocked” by the report, claiming that the entire industry and not just the festival organisers had been kept in the dark.
It said the alleged drug overdose deaths had painted the electronic dance music (EDM) genre in a bad light.
“Since the incident, FMFA has been made a scapegoat for the decline of the live events industry in Malaysia, particularly when it comes to events that promote the EDM genre.
“Shows with EDM elements have been rejected by authorities for fear of similar drug related deaths recurring,” Alife said in a statement.