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The Hate Issue

All Malaysian Skins

The skinhead movement that has taken root in Malaysia is based on the original blueprint of working-class pride, beer, Oi! and ska, and hanging out almost exclusively at all-dude parties.
DN
Κείμενο Dominic Nietz
1.12.04

Photo by the author

It's Friday night in Kuala Lumpur. Two Malaysian skinheads named Eddie and Kad are heading to a studio where some bands are practicing for tomorrow's big Oi! Fest at the Imperial Sheraton. Their car stereo plays tapes from local skin bands. Eddie points out one song that sounds like a reggae anthem, "We All Stand Together Cause We Are the Skins," by Roots and Boots (one of the most popular skinhead bands in KL). The skinhead movement that has taken root in Malaysia is based on the original blueprint of working-class pride, beer, Oi! and ska, and hanging out almost exclusively at all-dude parties. (For some reason, 90% of girls avoid these dudes as if they were walking nerd penises wrapped in an AIDS shawl.) Despite the lack of racial tension, being a skinhead in Malaysia has been illegal for a few years. That's right, Eddie and Kad are breaking the law simply by having shaved heads and wearing Dr. Martens. In the two most Islamic states (Terangganu and Kelantan), skinheads are uniformly rounded up by police and thrown in jail. Officials say this is because anti-Muslim neo-Nazis are the number one cause of crime in the country. The skinheads say this is old news, and they claim it wasn't them anyways, it was a small crowd of Nazi punks. No matter what the impetus is behind this tension, the point is that today all the skinheads (racist and non-) are united under one great big banner of hatred: the police. "You can tell who's racist or not by the red or white laces" Eddie explains, "but we all hate the police. They're making our lives hell." In a city of 1.8 million, these Malaysian skinheads are a speck of dust, but the cops continue to harass them under the guise of protecting Muslims. "They don't understand that this is not Indonesia," Eddie says. "We're not greeting Chinese immigrants with a burning tire and we're not firebombing Muslims. We're just music fans that are proud to be Malaysian." At the practice space we meet Sod, the singer of Roots and Boots. "I get all my energy from what the cops do to us," he says. "We're not drug addicts, and we all have jobs. They just don't like the fact we have our own culture and our own rules. Our songs are about praising all Malaysians for our national identity, but the cops arrest us and call it a cult. Whenever they see a bunch of skins together, they round them up and handcuff them. They lock everyone down and then give them all piss tests to see if they're getting high. Usually it's over in a half hour and the show goes on. I fucking hate the cops." Click here for more Malaysian Skins pics