Netizens retort reasoning behind karaoke box ban

National 3 minutes, 50 seconds


NETIZENS have hit out at the Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) Municipal Department’s reasoning to ban karaoke-boxes (k-boxes) at arcades, saying that the authority did not have faith in Brunei’s youth.

The reason given to shut down all k-boxes in arcades is “insulting and alienating our young people so casually”, a reader posted on The Brunei Times website.

Shahiran S Leong stated: “The very alienation and refusal to talk and listen to our youths is the root cause of social ills today.”

Arcade operators said they were ordered to close and dismantle all k-boxes early last month.

On Monday, BSB Municipal Department Head of Legal Enforcement Adi Syohreni Abd Hadi said karaoke boxes at arcades posed a negative impact on society as they were “dark, and promotes indecent behaviour, including close proximity among teenagers in the country”.

She added that allowing k-boxes at arcades goes against Brunei’s aspiration of becoming a Zikir Nation.

A reader with the username HGA wrote that immoral acts can happen anywhere because it is up to the individuals, not the location.

HGA added that the arcades did their part by providing large glass windows and frequent monitoring of the k-boxes.

“I really wonder why authorities have the power to just roll out directives like this, based on such vague reasons or baseless assumptions. Have we actually seen evidence that these k-boxes contribute significantly to social ills?” the netizen asked.

HGA stated that the directive was another decision that ignored the impact on the economy: unemployment rate, wages and business.

“The whole point of this move, which is to cure social ills, is again counterproductive. How does the government measure whether this move is effective, what if it is not, and who is accountable?”

Another netizen, Qawi Zainuddin, stated the matter should be treated with caution as business operators have their rights, and the department should not abuse its authority.

In his comments posted on the website, he stated there should be proper research before the directive is issued.

The department should have thought about the consequences (on social ills and affecting businesses) and find solutions that could benefit both parties, he added.

“The department can impose the strictest rule if they want to, but not by closing down the entertainment boxes when the arcade management is doing their best to ensure no immoral acts are committed in the premises. I am sure they will not allow this to happen as they don’t want anything to affect their businesses,” Qawi stated.

The netizen agreed with the department to seek solutions in preventing social ills among youths, but believed shutting down k-boxes was not the best option.

Mizah Arissa said social ills had nothing to do with karaoke centres.

Posting on The Brunei Times’ Facebook page, she said the department could introduce a rule that allows alternate days for males and females to sing at k-boxes, but not closing them permanently.

“We went camping when we were young, have karaoke at wedding functions, yet we still turned out well,” she said.

Another Facebook user, Irwati Gafur, opined that education, and not “banning everything” (entertainment) was the best way to help curb social ills.

NewFish1 felt that despite not a big fan of k-boxes, the directive was a “bit much”. “Serious questions need to be asked as to how this is going to affect Brunei’s image internationally.”

Anna Mousse stated that the Municipal Department misplaced its authority.

Instead of closing the k-boxes where people can show their talents in proper places, they should take action against those who blast their music and sing until early morning or during events that lasted for days, causing public nuisance.

A Facebook user, Agee Ahmed said: “We need to look at social ills from different dimensions, not just through one single dimension that judged one particular thing as immoral.”

He suggested a dialogue with members of the public as important, and proper research on definition and category of social ills was needed.

The department said a directive was issued on November 20, 2012 whereby the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Religious Affairs banned karaoke services and live band performances at business premises.

The department’s head of Legal Enforcement had said business owners were informed of the prohibition of karaoke services before the enforcement and notices were sent to businesses informing them of the new rule.

Earlier, one arcade operator had said it took the initiative of not allowing males and females to be in the same box. Staff would also check on couples by asking for their marriage licences.

The Brunei Times