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Tuesday August 12, 2008

Groups slam call to ban concert

PETALING JAYA: Activist groups have hit out at the Federal Territory PAS Youth for its move to call for a ban on the concert by popular Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne planned for Aug 29.

Women's Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said the issue was not that of decency but one involving freedom of expression.

“Decency is very relative. This is the issue of the rights to freedom of expression and for people, especially the youths, to choose what they want to see and hear,” she said.

“The society's morality and values are not shaped by concerts and music,” Josiah said, adding that the insidious attempts by certain quarters to shut down or restrict the people’s freedom of expression were not acceptable in a democratic Malaysia.

On Saturday, Federal Territory PAS Youth chief Kamaruzaman Mohamed handed over a memorandum to Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Hakim Borhan and the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry calling for a ban on the concert.

The PAS wing is asking the authorities to ban the show because “rock and punk is not suitable for the young generation and especially so during Merdeka month.”

Sisters In Islam lashed out at the call, questioning PAS' pledge to the people during the general election campaign.

“PAS has said many times that it would never infringe on the rights of non-Muslims but in reality, it is in fact denying non-Muslims their rights,” its programme manager Norhayati Kaprawi said.

“Is this call limited only to Muslims or to everyone? Since PAS is a component party of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, then what are PKR and DAP's position on this (banning of concerts)?” she asked.

“It seems like PAS is making all the decisions. Is this within the Pakatan's manifesto?”

She urged PAS to focus on bigger issues like urban poverty instead.

Norhayati noted that none of the rock singer's concerts had come across as violent or of bad influence.

MCA Youth secretary-general Dr Wee Ka Siong meanwhile expressed his disappointment, saying: “This is clearly an infringement of the people's rights. It is very unbecoming.”

Dr Wee also said PAS Youth should not try to impose their values on people of other races.

“We must uphold the right of the citizens as enshrined in the Constitution,” he added.

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