KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — A developer denied today rumours that Publika was hosting a Nazi punk underground concert in April, following uproar among the mall’s mostly middle class patrons.
UEM Sunrise, owners of Publika, a posh mall typically frequented by the country’s most privileged elites, issued a statement saying it had never authorised the event to take place at its premises.
“In response to the comments...that an event named Death to the Antifa fest @ Black Box strongly denies that such an event is taking place at Black Box, Publika,” UEM Sunrise’s statement read.
Antifa is short form for anti-fascists, a reference to pro-multiculturalism skinheads and underground “scenesters”.
The former, also known as Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice or SHARP in short, are mortal enemies of the local Nazi skinheads and punks, a fierce tribal rivalry that has lasted for decades.
“No authorisation has been given for such [an] event to take place,” UEM Sunrise added.
Malay Mail was made to understand that the concert was a hoax, and that the Nazi group had never intended to organise such a concert.
“Publika, bro,” a member of one of the Nazi punk bands named in the flyer at the centre of the controversy told Malay Mail.
“Do we look like those who want to play there?”
The rumour about the concert picked up wind after a few Twitter users raised concerns about the possibility that the event would become a platform for hate speech.
Most of the complainants, self-professed “liberals”, argued that allowing the concert was inappropriate at a time of heightened concern over the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand that saw 50 people killed by a racist terrorist, who acted alone.
“Can we exert pressure on UEM Sunrise so this Nazi gig is cancelled? F**k the fascists, deplatform hate speech,” said a Twitter user by the name @hasbeemasputra.
Can we exert pressure on Publika (@uem_sunrise) to make sure this Nazi gig is cancelled? Fuck the fascists, deplatform hate speech.@uniteasia @kuasasiswa @AntifaMalaysia #Malaysia #AntiFascist pic.twitter.com/NwYRuCxLel— hasbeemasputra (@hasbeemasputra) March 19, 2019
But calling for the event to be cancelled would likely spark accusations of hypocrisy. Malaysian liberals often preach about free expression, but in this case want the authorities to clamp down on the event, citing unproven claims that such a concert would promote racial tension or violence.
Nazi punk bands, with mostly poor Malay members, have played the underground circuit as early as the late 80s, often without protest since many of the concerts often take place in secluded and working class locations like Chow Kit Road or Ampang.
It is unclear if those protesting the concert are calling for a total ban of Nazi punk music or because the supposed concert was taking place at a place like Publika, a space otherwise perceived to be reserved for middle class art.