written and sent out 2nd January 2006

4 held to be charged on Tuesday

The New Year seems to have got off on a wrong foot because Paul's Place was raided last night.  The posse of police who arrived about 10 pm took all the equipment away, Paul's, the show organisers - sound system, lights, amps, recorder and mixer.  They even came with a TV camera crew from TV3, expecting to find Black Metal. 

They found no Black Metal, and no drugs, even after testing more than a hundred people and keeping them in police lock-up until about 6 am.  Some of the people taken away had nothing to do with the live music party taking place at Paul's - they just happened to be chilling out at various
restaurants dotted around the area.

However the police are still holding 4 people including David, Paul's colleague, who they claim are the organisers of the event, and it seems they are planning to charge them  with holding an illegal gathering (which means one of more than 500 people).  However there were certainly no more than 150 in Paul's Place at the time, including those in the cafe downstairs and on the street outside.  But how can anyone proove this?  It's their word against yours.

In any case these four people cannot be released until they have appeared in magistrate's court and the earliest is Tuesday morning.  This group would probably include Paul himself were it not for the fact that he had left to play a gig with his band in Sri Hartamas.

A press conference has been called by the organisers of the show:  2 pm tomorrow (Monday January 2) at Paul's Place, 8, Jalan 2/137B off Jalan Klang Lama (turn left opp the Pearl Hotel and then left again)

Paul's Place is the only live music place in KL that doesn't have a liquor licence.  It seems that if you set up a live music joint in this country and want a period entertainment licence (ie a year's "blanket"  licence) then:

1.  You have to have a liquor licence

2.  You musit give RM20,000 deposit to the local authority.  Then if there is a raid and someone is found to have drugs or to have consumed drugs, or if there's a drunken fight and someone gets injured, then poof! there goes your 2 grand (a remarkably effective way of discouraging live music).

But what about all the young people who JUST WANT TO PLAY MUSIC?  Where do they go?  If they play on the street they also get arrested like some buskers last month.  Why should music be so inextricably bound up with the drinking of alcohol?  The authorities ought to be supporting Paul and his venue for giving these young musicians a stage on which to play and a sound system, so that others can come and hear hear the music and enjoy the show without being penalised.

The Latest details (10th January):  A total of 310 people were taken away from Paul's Place and the surrounding area at about 11 pm on New Year's Eve and had to celebrate the New Year 2006 inside the Brickfields Police Station compound.  All were tested for drug consumption and released around about dawn except for 5 people (including David Paul's partner) who were held until being released on Police Bail on Monday 2nd January for two weeks pending charges.  All the sound equipment is also still being held, although we are led by a lawyer to believe that the Police have an obligation under law to allow the owners (who include a renter of equipment whose business is suffering) to bond and take back their property which must then be returned in the event of a court case.  However the Police tell me they can't do this.   We are hoping that in view of the adverse publicity no charges will be brought and we can then recover our equipment.  (Have since been told by the lawyer that we all have to MAKE AN APPLICATION for the bonding of the equipment, and to do that we need to know the owners of all the stuff including sundry guitars, amps and effects units which no-one has claimed.  So please guys - don't be afraid  - come and claim your gear!)


So sorry for your troubles. Typical law enforcement with all brawn and no brain and then again it's all about the money and the New year way of filling up the coffers of the you know who.

I say get the fans to flood the editorial pages of the press NOW and for the whole week. Being relentless pays off!

Ms Smarty Pants

This is the bassist Wendy from the band ZHEN that played in Paul's Place thanks to your organising the gig sumtime like a yr ago. Read your email about the unfortunate raid that took place in Paul's Place.
I'm sure its a wrongly made tip-off by some prankster or a competitor of Paul's Place who just wants to see the place go down for dubious reasons. Its not uncommon for such things to happen, especially in a country that's a theocracy, it needs to use someone or any entity as a sacrificial scapegoat to present as a prime example to others.Think George Orwell's remarkably timeless indictment on the power of politics in Animal Farm. Well Singapore is also known for its strict regulations on entertainment and we're not even a religious state. Busking on the streets without a license can get one fined/imprisoned and alcohol license for pubs/clubs in singapore is ridiculously high (as with everything else here anyway).
In any case, I and the rest of my band would like to extend our full sympathy to Paul and our appreciation for his commitment to music and to taking the time and effort to set up a place for bands to showcase originals. Even to musicians outside of Malaysia. Of course also thanks again to you for allowing ZHEN a spot to perform. We truly hope the matter will not get too awry and may the year 2006 get better in times to come.
Have a Happier New Year soon
So sorry that the New Year celebrations is ruined by this crime ...

Just the pitiful and sorry state of affairs in our country where even the supposed good guys (especially our police, n politicians) are crooks - they r worse are they are the "legalised crooks"

these crooked n corrupt people make lives difficult for commonfolk who are trying to earn an honest living - such as musicians and artist

i support all of you and hope that the police will release david and company who did nothing illegal

Happy New Year n More Power To U,
Justice For All



I am a member of Hassan and Paul's band (Brownsugar) and am really disgusted by what happened!! How could they do this to Paul who just had very good intentions.... providing a place for kids to play their music..... Remember we just had a pleasant discussion over at Paul's house last Christmas... bout music and bands and this is what happened!! My god... I really hope everythings gonna turn up fine... There were no black metal on the night when they raided Paul's Place..... only kids with Black outfit from tip to toe!! It realy effected Paul's playing that night...... We were paid for a gig.... poor Paul and David....
 Guitar Man

I just found out today about the events that conspired on new years and would firstly like to apologize on behalf of Fat Boys for not being at your press conference yesterday to show our support.

The state of understanding on the local underground music scene by the government is just appalling. It seems that nowadays if your not part of a major music label, a graduate of AF, or your name has “Siti” in it, your automatically characterized as a member of the “Black Metal” movement.

It’s sad to think that the authorities are reactive and not proactive, and this isn’t just related to music but a lot of things e.g.:

   * The state of construction sites in this country is dreadful.
     Safety precautions are zero and we all know this. But it takes
     some rich guy with connections to get crushed by falling concrete
     slabs for the authorities to start making a “Whoo Haa” about it
   * Snatch theft has been going on for so long, nothing was done,
     until a mother looses a life while being robbed. Suddenly it’s the
     highest priority, and a whole government campaign is launched.

Basically “Shit has to happen” before those with influence realize that “oh! We better fix this”. Certain local press don’t help things either by launching them self’s into a media frenzy like sharks tasting blood, going on about “social ills” putting up pictures, and pointing fingers without first investigating it, and understanding the issues at hand.

What’s also amusing is that your point about licensing issues. for live music venue you need an alcohol license, and a shit load of money. But you cant sell alcohol at gigs in fear of being shut down, and tagged as a negative social activity.

People have to start and learn that loud, fast, aggressive music isn’t always about the devil, and orgy’s!


This is really terrible terrible news. We have only played that one gig in KL at Pauls Place and we really appreciated the enthusiasm and spirit of the place.

Is there anything people here in Singapore can do?

Joelle Lim

Personally, I do not think that anyone in the music world should be abused by anyone and we should do whatever we can to assist such a party if we are to justify our name in the industry and music world.  I think that the raid was a clearly designed punitive action....and more so when a New Year party was in progress.
Joe Chelliah

written and sent out 4th January 2006

Well if we were innocent before we certainly are not now.  By "we" I refer to the alternative and underground musicians, their fans and supporters and those who don't see anything wrong with folk making their own music and performing it before their friends and fans.

However on Saturday night New Year's Eve we got a shock.  The police came and for the moment anyway took away that right - to perform music.    Leaving out the extraordinary, draconian way the police went about busting this show, the fault is not just the police, but the extremely restrictive series of laws and regulations that the police have the job to enforce.

For example The Star reported that five people would be charged, "the owner of the concert venue, two for selling tickets and two others for selling merchandise at the concert".  Oh, so it's illegal to sell merchandise at a concert? - which must include not just T-shirts (which were confiscated) but also CDs and "fanzines" - home produced magazines in bunches of ten or twenty done on a home computer - and even flyers or any printed material.  So that means if I type out a programme and bios of the bands appearing at a concert and distribute it to the audience, then I can be arrested for contravening the Printing Presses and Publications Act.  Are we not going too far?  Now it seems we can't even sell our own CDs at or in front of a venue where our band is appearing, even if they have holograms on?

Furthermore when the police came to the supposed Black Metal Concert at Paul's Place, they took away every small piece of equipment, no matter who it belonged to.  Do they really have the right, as well as arresting people, even those sitting in restaurants who have nothing to do with the concert, and keeping them all night (and 5 people for almost the whole long weekend), do they really have the right to CONFISCATE ALL THE EQUIPMENT?  Do they have the right to take all the amps, speakers, mixers and expensive and delicate electronic articles away in a lorry and keep them in that lorry in the open air with no cover on in the police compound?

Some of this equipment belongs to people who are completely innocent of contravening the law, who had nothing to do with the organising of this show, but who are hirers out of PA systems, running a bona fide business, who risk having thousands of pounds worth of their barang spoilt.
Are the Malaysian public happy about this?  Would they like live musical entertainment to be suppressed in this way?  If so then I suppose we have to submit to the majority view, that music is bad and all young people should be playing scrabble instead, or marching about learning to be soldiers.

In order to defend themselves the independent musicians got together and held a press conference on  Monday which was attended by numerous reporters and media people.  But one TV station described this conference as a number of people rallying together in support of Black Metal, which was not the tone of the meeting at all.  The message of the meeting was "we are not black metal and do not deserve this treatment".

Can we not have some fair reporting? - is it too much to ask for that wonderful word impartiality?  The article on Monday 2nd January in Harian Metro gave a completely biased and misleading impression of the concert, the people attending it and the behaviour of the musicians and fans who took part in it.  We just appeal to journalists and editors - don't blacken the youth and make out they are evil and dissolute just for attending a musical event (or must we all pay RM40 to see Peter Pan instead?  Must we never grow up but remain children and be led by the hand of media hype and advertising wherever we go?).

The police think that Paul's Place is a pub.  But it is not a pub.  A pub remains open every night and has a Liquor Licence and sells liquor (that is draught and bottled beer, wine, spirits and liqueurs).  A pub often has live music usually 3 or 4 nights a week.  Paul's Place is a restaurant downstairs on the ground floor, but there is also a room upstairs which is from time to time used for private functions.  Sound equipment is brought in for the occasion whenever there is a function, so bands can play.  As Rafil Elyas puts it, "From what I understand Paul's Place is a licensed cafe. He is allowed to sell soft drinks and canned/bottled beer and host private events (i.e., gigs). The authorities have never seemed to have a problem with this until now."

Let us try to resolve these problems in a sane, sensible, rational and fair way, and find a way for youth to perform music without always looking behind them, wondering when they are going to be carted off to the lock-up and charged with some offence.  We are hoping for a more tolerant society, one in which people can pursue an activity like music which is essentially not dangerous or distructive, which is basically quite a good discipline, and one in which there are social skills to be learned into the bargain (huh! Like how to handle the police - Ha Ha!)

further reading::


My sympathies and support for you and your work in promoting live music in Malaysia. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

P. Davies, London

I totally sympathise with your ire!

Well, in fact the majority in this land are made to tow the line of a few ignorant minority who eqaul uniforms, truncheons and uncouthness as might and right.

The raid reeks of an all too familiar scenario - the unpaid unofficial licencing fee.

Maybe a regualr press release to all the media (and the 'authorities') might educate them to the positive contributions of Paul's place to the music scene. And then some holiday workshops for youth on alternative music (the authorities love this especially when the words 'education' and 'keep them off the streets' are attached!) - positive self-profiling.

Well, just a suggestion from a total ignoramus on alternative music!

Ms Smart Pants

Its a touching yet a disturbing email to read at such an early part of a gloomy morning. I dont know what the intentions of the authorities were for such an occurrence and how the media is planning to position the mindset of our population (if they even have a clue at all of what's going on). But it looks like this is merely the beginning of an ethnic cleansing of the underpowered alternative/underground community with the excuse of bad influences of unfavourable music genres.

I dont know about u guys but i believe Paul's Place was one of the few launch pads for many growing bands in Malaysia and for it to get raided is like a sunday morning attack on pearl harbour. I think we all know that Paul and many gig organizers have put their hearts into the scene and relied a whole lot on these venues.

Now things are slowly turning against them for the sake of the youth community? Is this a culture forbidden from the youth?

Or maybe its just 'commercial vs underground' thus the bigger music industry wins. Let the 'music-so-popular-to-everyone' sweep away the who-gives-a-shit and powerless industry under the carpet.

Well whatever it is it shouldn't stop us from bailing out. The industry is growing. This is just an excuse for our bands to play more gigs. We can only get better.

F*** whoever says otherwise.


I am emailing to tell you how dismayed I am with this entire debacle. I have been in contact with Sonia, and have fervently read all your emails and also checked out the blog that Sonia set up. I am appalled at the way the police handled everything, the shady reasons they are giving for their uncalled for actions, and their even shadier so-called charges that they will be issuing out to those detained over the weekend. I cannot help but feel that this is obvious proof of the poor preconceived notions Malaysians have toward musicians, and as if it hasn't been enough, this incident will only perpetuate their sad view of us.
But most of all, I am dismayed by the press. Their inability to get facts straight is embarrassing and disgusting, what with the Malay press turning everything into a soap opera, putting words in people's mouths, and the English papers reporting contradictory statements from the chief of police himself. If this is Malaysian journalism, then no wonder the public think so poorly of us.
Yet at the same time, perhaps we can turn this step backwards to our advantage. We musicians have not made enough of an effort to unite and to fight for our rights. It has always been a handful of fighting spirits in the front line, while most of us reap the benefits of all that work.
Perhaps this is a call to arms.
I hope that all Malaysian musicians everywhere will realise the depth of this event and what it implies. I hope that each and every one of them will feel the indignation, frustration and anger that I feel for all those people that were there at Paul's that night. But most of all, I hope they will realise that what we are lacking is a unity that has never been there. There are so many of us, and almost no one is standing up to state our case and to fight for the freedom of self - expression. Funny... considering what we do for a living, music, is exactly that: self expression.
Thank you so much for doing what you do. For what it's worth, I'm glad you're on our side. ;)
Viva la musica,

I know many musicians are pissed off by this matter. Probably this is a 'grey' area whereby our indie rock music is not getting the progress it should be. I am sure it's not the first time we encounter this tragedy.........well it was the norm back in the 90's and early year of 2000. The authorities were not well educated about the music matters and soon whoever leading the team has made wrong judgements which soon leads to wrong actions. That is why the general public will always have a bad impression of rock music to the society.
I honestly think that our society is truly lacking in common sense. Is it  because of our cultural diffrences or our ignorance towards our surroundings..........
Andy Fam

I freelance as a writer for the Star, although it has nothing to do with music anymore. Like you, I'm amazed how some sections of the media can really take things too subjectively, when reporting is meant to be fair and objectively-viewed.

I'm a big fan of what you do and I hope you will continue doing it. Fight for your rights and keep that flame burning, mate.

You've got more supporters than you think and we all hope you bounce back as soon as possible.
Kind regards,

Michael  D'Oliviera

Peter, I know I hardly ever write back to you, but it's not for a lack of support. Right now, I feel that I really do need to take the time to send you a note, however brief, in support of artists, musicians and youths in this country - especially those following a path not carved for them b y corporate/state/party political interests.
The whole police raid and subsequent media treatment of this issue was a farce. I think it's fantastic that the organizers and lawyers etc. called a press conference after that to get a fair hearing. I saw the coverage in the NST, which was good even though it was relegated to the inside pages of the paper.
No matter, what's important is that noise gets made and that we stand up for our fundamental liberties. As a musician myself, I think this is where musicians play a very important role, too, whether among fellow artists or within civil society. I feel music provides such a powerful outlet for the expression of ideals and ideas. While music alone does not inspire revolutions, music often becomes the voice for movements that aspire to the larger ideals of justice, democracy and human rights.
The demonizing of certain genres of music is a regrettable way of dealing with the need for various spaces for people to express themselves. If there are musicians who peddle hate and prejudice through their music - e.g. with racist/sexist/homophobic intent or content - then we who disagree with this should respond by exercising our freedom of expression, not by banning or intimidating people whom we disagree with.
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by our Constitution and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and this is something we have to drive home again and again.
In support and in solidarity,
Shanon Shah

It is indeed an unfortunate incident that happened on New Year's Eve, especially since there was no apparent crime committed. And that is where all parties involved need to clarify.

Were any laws or regulations broken during the event?

If not, then stop acting like a victim and instead find out what the misunderstanding was all about. It would be a good idea to some legal advice on the matter and find out what your rights are in this case.  Then gently but firmly fight for it.

If there were a few minor regulations contravened, then accept responsibility and find out what is within the law when organising such events. Inform the police of the activities to be conducted beforehand and get a written approval from them.

Look at it this way, don't you think those police officers would have much prefered staying home that night enjoying their new year with their families than raiding Paul's Place? They just had a job to do after all. Imagine how frustrated they must've felt when no one tested positive for drugs. In their report, it was probably a failed raid! They should have been somewhere else where they might have saved a teenager from drug addiction.

So here's a win-win suggestion. Cooperate with the law within reason so that they'll be more effective elsewhere and at the same time, that will allow an approved avenue for live music to continue playing.

Erica Draven

I believe that there must have been some sort of warning given by the authorities re Paul's Place and its "activities" before the raid.  I may be wrong. 
Much as I sympathsize with you and all fellow musicians concerned I, together with some other friends of mine, think that we have to try and build a more professional industry.  And being professional also means doing things within the laws of the country however "Draconian" they may seem.
Holding an event like this in an unlicensed premise and without the necessary permits is against the law. The raid on 31.12.05 can be challenged in the courts as what I believe you and your friends
are doing or planning to do. 
Cheers and regards

Joe Chelliah


The next time you are stopped by persons who claimed they are plainclothes police, you are under no obligation to answer their questions or follow their orders, lawyers told Malaysiakini today.

 "A Policeman who is not wearing his uniform does not have the authority  to stop anyone," lawyer and human rights activist Sivarasa Rasiah said.

Sivarasa was commenting on the alleged gang-rape of an 18-year-old University student by four men claiming to be police officers on New  Year's Eve. The girl said that her car was stopped in Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur and were asked by the men to open the car bonnet. She was then told that she had committed an offence and ordered to follow the men to a  police station. The girl was driven in her car along the North-South expressway  to  the Tapah-Cameron Highlands road before she was raped in an oil palm estate.

This incident, and many others, have sparked confusion over the procedures which motorists must follow when flagged down by the police. "The most common problem is that most people take instructions without determining if the  other person is really a cop,"  lawyer Annie Santiago said.

"However, if you are stopped by a uniformed policeman, then you are required to stop. But you need not get out of the car because you are not expected to do so", Santiago said. The other rule to follow is to provide  your identity card only when you are asked to do so. "Even then, you should get his ID first to confirm if he is a cop. There is no harm in calling the relevant police station to verify if he is supposed to be on duty that day,"  Sivarasa said.

Both lawyers said that motorists should never follow an officer to the police station unless one is under arrest. "If you are not sure, and your  instincts tell you that something is wrong, then drive off to the nearest police station and lodge a report,"  Sivarasa said.

In response to the alleged gang-rape of the 18-year-old, Women's Aid Organisation executive-secretary Ivy Josiah called on the police to launch an education program to teach the public about their rights to prevent them from being victimised by bogus police officers.

Procedures to follow in the event you are stopped by uniformed police Officers while driving.

  • Stop the car and wind down your window.
  • If the police officers ask for your documents, request to see their IDs first.
  • If you are satisfied about their identity, ask them if you are being    summoned, and for what offence.
  • Produce your identity card and driver's license and wait to collect your summon ticket.
In the event that the police officers ask you to follow them to the police station:
  • Ask if you are under arrest and for what offence.
  • If you are not under arrest, you have the right to leave.
In the event you are flagged down by persons you believe could be plainclothes police:
  • Do not stop because plainclothes police officers do not have the authority to stop you.
  •  Drive to the nearest police station and lodge a report. (The same procedure applies to pedestrians)
In the event the police come to your house:
  • Do not let them in before checking their IDs.
  • If you are not satisfied, phone the nearest police station and confirm if they had been sent to your house.
  • You are under no obligation to allow them into the house if they don't have a search warrant.
  • Do not go with them if you are not under arrest.
In the event persons who claimed to be plainclothes police come to your house:
  • Do not let him in because they do not have the authority to do so.
  • Lodge a report at the nearest police station.
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