Rocking for Right
Writer: Basil Foo
Published: Fri, 11 Jan 2013
MUSIC, whether we use it for entertainment, motivation in the gym, or just to pass the time while waiting in line, is very much a part of any person’s life.
While it is easily accessible to most, via record stores, the radio, iPod shuffles, or the internet, we must remember not to take it for granted.
This is because music itself is a form of expression and the freedom to exercise it is guaranteed and protected by the highest law of the land – the Federal Constitution.
The Constitution is the “rule-book” or manual for our country. It is one of our most important documents as it is the supreme law of our nation.
It guarantees certain fundamental liberties and formulates special provisions for certain ethnic communities in multi-religious and multi-racial Malaysia.
The Constitution belongs to every citizen, who is a beneficiary of its promise of democratic governance.
Needless to say, all Malaysians should be informed of its contents in order to be able to ensure that their the Constitution is upheld by all. Malaysians must also be armed with an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the institutions of government, and the rights and responsibilities of every Malaysian.
With these as objectives in mind, the Bar Council, through its Constitutional Law Committee, launched the MyConstitution campaign in November 2009.
It is a nationwide campaign to educate the people of Malaysia about the Federal Constitution.
“We are trying to let people know what’s in the Federal Constitution. It contains not just rights for certain people, but for all,” said Firdaus Husni.
The Constitutional Law Committee deputy chairperson said the upcoming Rock 4 Rights 2 (R4R2) concert is an initiative to convey their message to youths.
Rock 4 Rights 2
The concert cum music festival will take place on Jan 19 at the KDU University College in Section 13, Petaling Jaya from 3pm to 11pm.
“Having the concert itself concerns Article 10 in the Constitution. Playing music to the crowd concerns freedom of speech, but it is not just that,” Firdaus said.
She explained that for youths to gather en masse for a concert, they would be exercising their right to freedom of assembly.
She added that as the festival will see the participation of several different organisations, visitors will also be exercising their right to freedom of association.
The theme for the concert is “Associate. Assemble. Articulate.” which encapsulates the rights enshrined in Article 10 of the Constitution.
With R4R2, the Malaysian Bar hopes to convey the message of constitutional awareness and appreciation of human rights through the most universal of languages.
“Through the concert, we hope youths will know their rights better. What better way to attract youths than music,” she said.
The concert will feature acts like Kyoto Protocol, Azmyl Yunor and The Sigarettes, Akta Angkasa, Shh…Diam!, Iqbal M and Vials.
Firdaus said performers will be allowed to communicate their messages to the audience through their songs without much censorship beyond the basic guidelines.
“In terms of the bands, we are flexible. It’s more of letting the band communicate what they want to say. We are giving bands more freedom,” she said.
However, as the setting of the music festival will be in a university, guidelines include leaving out vulgarities and not being too anti-establishment, she reminded.
R4R2 is the second concert being organised by the MyConstitution campaign, the first being the Rock 4 Rights music festival in April 2011.
That festival, which was held at Fort Cornwallis, Penang, was jointly organised by the Bar Council and two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Frinjan and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM).
The second instalment of this music festival will be organised with KDU University College, through its Law Department and assisted by Frinjan.
Together with food, drinks, clothing and accessory stalls, the MyConstitution campaign will also be setting up a booth at the coming festival.
Aside from the T-shirts, CDs and badges they have featured in past appearances, their booth will have colourful educational booklets on the Constitution.
Called “The Rakyat Guides”, they come in a series of nine booklets with titles like “Elections & Democracy”, “Fundamental Liberties & Citizenship” and “Federal-State Relations”.
With a turnout of over 2,000 youths during their last concert in Penang, Firdaus hopes to double the number in the coming festival.
Things to look out for
Things to expect during the festival are vendors helming booths within the bazaar cum flea market, selling food and drinks, clothes, jewelry and arts and craft items.
NGOs will be setting up booths to provide information to the public, to assist and to expand their understanding on issues.
A small stage in the lecture hall of the campus will be set up for smaller, more intimate acts such as acoustic or niche performers.
This will also include a performing arts component for theatre works and street performances.
The event’s focus will be on the main stage which will host independent bands from the local music scene.
Music with a constitutional twist
ELECTRO, post-rock band Vials is one of the performers slated to hit the stage at the upcoming Rock 4 Rights 2 (R4R2) music festival on Jan 19.
The 11-year-old band’s founding members, Mohd Ali Imran and Mohd Shahir Hassan, started jamming together for fun but soon started creating their own songs.
“We met in Ipoh and started jamming. When we started to do our own songs, we became more serious. We started to produce our own album,” said Ali.
The band’s debut album was launched in December and is titled, “Congratulations, Did It Hurt?”. Their CD is available at Victoria Music and Rock Corner outlets.
The 32-year-old vocalist said the upcoming concert will be a good chance for youths, especially those living in a democratic country, to speak out.
“Youths have a need to speak, a need to be heard. This is good as it is in line with the freedom of speech,” he said.
Shahir, who is a full-time music teacher and calls his band a “serious hobby” plays the keyboard for Vials and said the concert will help lesser known acts.
He said while more mainstream and established bands have made the radio airwaves their dominion, lesser known bands of alternative genres will find the concert useful.
“It is a good place to push bands of different genres, so that they can broadcast their works to the public. It helps the music scene be more active,” he added.
On their own music, Shahir, as the principal songwriter, said their songs are very relatable as they are about life and the things everyone goes through.
Mixing in themes like the difficulties of struggling in life, he said their songs cover a wide range of emotions, from anger, happiness and sadness.
“We did play for the first concert in 2011. Maybe they liked us, that’s why they called us back,” said Iqbal M lead singer Muhammad Iqbal Othman.
The gregarious 25-year-old front man of the melodic rock band is no stranger to those following the Rock 4 Rights concert series.
Energetic on stage while grooving to the music, his infectious upbeat mood will certainly rub off on audiences at the upcoming concert.
On educating the public through music festivals, he said he himself would much prefer attending a concert rather than the normal forum or conference events.
“Youths like concerts. If it was a talk, especially with politicians, they wouldn’t want to go. I also won’t go. But concerts, they can learn what they need to know here,” he said.
The bassist for Iqbal M, Shah Salleh, said the band just formed its full line-up in early December. Previously, they were only sessionists.
He said the style of the band, while entertaining, was challenging to play as they take traditional songs like Malay “joget” numbers and modernize them.
He hoped that their songs will get positive messages through to the crowd as they have taken pains to ensure their lyrics are not only catchy but meaningful.
“Through Rock 4 Rights, I hope we can get messages across like love, enjoyment for music and a little bit of rebellion,” he said.
Shah added that a song they will be performing, “Antara Dua Darjat”, speaks of love, and carries messages of anti-racism and ending double standards.
Vials and Iqbal M will be performing on the main stage of the R4R2 music festival which will be held on January 19 from 3pm to 11pm.
The concert will be at the KDU College in Section 13, Petaling Jaya and entrance is free.