Wait, Live Music IS Coming Back? MBPJ To Review Busking Prohibition Following Merdekarya’s Uproar

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Merdekarya | Things to do in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur

Ever since the roundabout wild goose chase for permits at Merdekarya, our beloved local gig house, news hasn’t stopped on the developments towards allowing them, and other supporting businesses in the ‘nightlife’ industry, to open up.

On 24 February, YB Maria Chin Abdullah issued a press release stating that “MBPJ has to revert on Merdekarya and allow them to operate as usual.”

Whilst netizens praised her for her intervention, it doesn’t just end there.

Time to do away with FT ministry, says local council expert | Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

Derek Fernandez, who is a prominent lawyer and local government expert, as well as MBPJ councillor, wrote, “The problem arises where busking takes place inside a pub or nightclub with an entertainment licence.

“Which directive takes priority? The problem is more unclear where indoor busking takes place inside a restaurant that sells alcohol incidental to its main food activities.

“In principle, any ambiguity in the interpretation of the NSC directive must be made in favour of the public. A more lenient approach must be taken as businesses are struggling to survive. The same should be also extended to pubs.”


According to the latest National Security Council (NSC) SOPs for creative industries, live performances such as theatre, musicals, music, comedy, and busking are permitted, subject to approval from the Malaysian Cultural Development Agency and local authorities.

Meanwhile, in a list of general SOPs updated last Wednesday, “entertainment activities” in nightclubs and pubs fall under the negative list and are strictly prohibited.

Merdekarya owner Brian Gomez had applied to hold live music performances at his establishment but it was rejected by the Petaling Jaya City Council with the reasoning that indoor busking is prohibited by current SOPs.

Pub or nightclub? ‘Absurd’ SOPs a bureaucratic nightmare for live music venues

Following this, he went on to say that went on to say that “any ambiguity should be read in favour of the public, while promising to raise the matter with the relevant city council committees as “a more lenient approach must be taken as businesses struggle to survive.”

The Petaling Jaya City Council is set to review its licensing policy for live music in restaurants and pubs following grievances by business owners prohibited from holding live music performances in their establishments.

This was confirmed by Petaling Jaya Zone 12 councillor Derek Fernandez who had raised the matter in a council board meeting earlier yesterday.

Referring to the National Security Council’s (NSC) ambiguous standard operating procedures (SOPs), Fernandez says the board was told that the SOPs ought to be interpreted in favour of the person or business being regulated, in cases where livelihood is concerned.

“Until they (NSC) clarify in writing, we are entitled to interpret it (the ambiguity) favourably towards the public or musician or business,” he said.

News on the potential policy review was warmly welcomed by Brian and the staff at Merdekarya. In the meantime, this hasn’t stopped him from releasing important press statements.

“On our part, we will continue to fight for nightlife to be taken off the negative list by the NSC and put an end to all this ambiguity once and for all,” he said.

Keep tuning in for more updates, but let’s all hope that we can once again return to The Live Bar @ Merdekarya where all the cool gigs happen! <3

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