Drugs offered openly at KL music festival

KUALA LUMPUR - The question was direct and the offer that followed equally blunt.

"So, what are you on?"

Drug-peddlers roamed freely, accosting concert-goers at the Future Music Festival Asia in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, said attendees.

The show was cancelled on Saturday, the final day of the event, after six people died of drug overdose and 14, including nine Singaporeans, were hospitalised. It was a tragedy waiting to happen, going by participants' accounts.

While many had ostensibly gone to listen to music, others were drawn to the drugs being offered brazenly. The event, which was scheduled for three days, attracted some 85,000 attendees.

Peddlers walked around Bukit Jalil National Stadium whispering names, such as Dragon Ball, which they claimed was a cocktail of cocaine, acid and other drugs, concert-goers told MyPaper.

Describing the scene at DJ Armin van Buuren's A State Of Trance showcase, one concert-goer from Singapore, who wanted to be known as Zara, said that some of those who took drugs sat dazed on the ground in the midst of others who were standing. "Many had glazed expressions, while others were dancing weirdly," said Zara, 24.

Some were "sniffing Vicks VapoInhaler" to heighten the effect of the drugs and others did strange things like "smelling one another".

Organisers said last night that they had provided free water in front of stage barriers.

But the stands ran out of bottles of water as the drugs were sold in capsule form, and many were dissolving them in water. People were seen alternately gulping down water and sniffing inhalers.

Security personnel constantly removed groups of eight or 10 who passed out on the ground and carried them to medical aid tents.

Concert-goer Sharan Kaur, 25, who works in the social service sector, noted that security was not very strict. "A friend who attended the Australian edition of the festival said the police presence was much stronger, with undercover cops and sniffer dogs present," said Ms Kaur.

Organisers said there were more than 100 police officers on the ground for "crowd control and drug detection activities", as well as two mobile police stations set up at the entrances.

The Star yesterday quoted Kuala Lumpur deputy CID chief Khairi Ahrasa as saying that a "total of 29 have been arrested on drug-related charges".

After Saturday's show was cancelled, many refused to admit that the party was over. They headed for bars and nightclubs, which immediately hiked their cover charges. A group of three seeking to enter a club had to fork out RM1,500 (S$580) for a bottle of vodka, said Zara.

Taxi drivers also started demanding RM50 to RM60 for short drives from concert-goers who were too dazed to argue.

But some are now paying an even higher price.


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