Concert organisers kept in the dark all this time

KUALA LUMPUR - The organisers of last year's Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) concert said they had been kept in the dark over the cause of deaths of six people at the event.

Livescape Group chief executive officer Muhammad Iqbal Ameer said all information about the deaths had been through verbal communication with the police and requests to see toxicology reports of the victims were denied.

"We were pretty much left in the dark. Until now, we have yet to know the contents of the investigation and toxicology reports.

"We are very surprised by the pathologist's revelations. For more than a year, we've been led to believe that the deaths were due to drug overdose," he said when commenting on University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) forensic pathology department head Prof Dr K. Nadesan's statement that it was heatstroke and not drugs, which killed the six.

Muhammad Iqbal said the perception that drugs caused the deaths had impacted the FMFA brand globally and on a larger scale, the events industry in Malaysia.

He said Livescape had heeded police warnings and cancelled the third and final day of the festival on March 15 last year after the six youths died and 22 others were arrested for drug possession at Stadium Bukit Jalil, the festival venue.

Muhammad Iqbal said Livescape was not disputing the call made by the police in the interest of public safety.

"But I believe what all event organisers want is better transparency and for the authorities to see the economic benefits of these events we are organising and to work together with us to ensure safe events.

"With how things are going now, no one wins. Will the fans be able to see another music festival take place in Malaysia?

"Could huge financial losses to other event organisers due to last-minute cancellations or objections be avoided?

"And more importantly, could lives have been saved if transparent and accurate information was released in the first place?" he asked.

When asked if Livescape was considering legal action, he said his company only wanted "answers and the truth".

Muhammad Iqbal also clarified that the event had sufficient measures in place to keep concert goers healthy and hydrated, refuting Dr Nadesan's comment that there was lack of access to water during the festival.

He said the festival had adhered to an international event organising standard under the Code of Practice and Event Management Guide, adding that the organiser also had 34 paramedics, seven ambulances and an onsite emergency trauma centre.