March 13, 2017
Recollections & Reflections – A weekly column by Aziz Hassan
THOSE familiar with the nightclub environment at least in the Klang Valley would have been the least surprised to read a news report on Saturday about what’s been happening enforcement-wise.
Travel-related websites do have stories about the operations by enforcement agencies on these establishments, with questions being asked by potential travellers to Kuala Lumpur about the situation.
To the tourist looking for fun and sun, this is not an ideal situation and may influence if KL is included in his final itinerary. No tourist is going to feel comfortable the moment a bar he is in is being checked by an enforcement agency, especially when the lights are switched on and the partying stops. Worse is when any highhandedness, especially when a catch-now-ask- the-questions-later approach is there for all to see, happens right before his eyes. That doesn’t leave him with fond memories of our city and a good impression of our country.
From both a regional and global perspective, KL must be one city where such enforcement action is most active, without equal.
Certain bars get raided on average a few times a year, year after year but the irony is that many more are left virtually untouched although they too have a heavy presence of girls from China, Thailand and god knows where else. There’s a couple in Mont Kiara that a friend describes as having the most number of Thai hostesses at any one place in the country and one is located opposite an enforcement agency’s office. You cannot be bolder than that.
The stories are plenty about the nonsense that goes on, about why others are at the wrong end of the enforcement action and many others are free to open for business until the wee hours of the morning.
One club in KL with an international brand has never been touched, not even once, despite its bar area known to be a magnet for foreign butterflies of the night since it opened 26 years ago. Not once.
But for comparison with other cities in the region, how often do you hear of bars in Jakarta, Bali, Manila, Bangkok or Hong Kong being raided?
Bars and dance halls have been around here since the colonial days and people from one or two generations before mine used to talk about the cabarets.
The western-style discos came into existence from around the late 60s. They are no longer called discos but the entertainment available is similar. What have changed basically are the music and the dancing styles that go with it.
In the 70s and a good part of the 80s you seldom went through an evening when the party was ruined halfway for the reason mentioned earlier, although some clubs stayed open until late and there was a bit of drug use too, almost entirely confined to pot.
No powder or pills then.
Enforcement action gained intensity in the 90s but still there was nothing as frequent as what we have seen in the last 15 to 20 years.
Most of what we have read in the newspapers and seen on television involved the presence of foreign girls at these establishments.
You may have read too statements about the total number of these women caught for what was said to be immoral activities.
“Believed to be involved in prostitution” is an oft-used phrase although it’s anyone’s guess how a girl having a drink and a chat with a bloke or two can simply be accused of being a whore or can be found guilty of this offence if she ends in court, if at all she is taken there.
The information even detailed the number by nationality. On average about 12,000 of these women are caught throughout the country each year.
Strangely you’ll be hard pressed to remember the last time you read about these girls being prosecuted, found guilty and deported.
This is where the press has unknowingly become a part of a practice that has evolved into more of a culture the country can do without.
To an extent the press becomes part of that culture because it highlights only the enforcement action to the point of glorifying it but never follows up to tell the public about the closure to each case.
Never and because of that we only hear one half of the story while the nonsense goes on unabated. Sad.