I love flying with Malaysia Airlines (MAS)—the service is great, the smiles are sincere, the food is guaranteed halal.. In fact, I’ve only taken MAS flights between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur in these 4 years. I believe that their “MH: It’s not just an airline code, it’s Malaysian Hospitality” campaign is well deserved.

I also love their in-demand entertainment system, where you can choose to watch any movies, TV shows or listen to music whenever you want. Just a few days ago, on inbound MH140, I was pleasantly surprised by their selection of music: Portishead’s Third, The Kooks’ Konk and Duffy’s Rockferry among others. I was even more surprised to find Meet Uncle Hussain‘s (MUH) 7Tahun 3Bulan 90Hari as their featured Malay album.

Could this be it? Is this the moment where the public has finally recognised indie bands and their output? Is MAS featuring the album to cope with the demand of this almost obscure band or to fit in the hype?

I decided to listen to the album with much glee.

By track 4 I was deeply disappointed. It was the bootlegged version, which has been widely circulated through the internet.

How do I know this? I know this because track 4, “Halusinasi” is badly distorted in the bootlegged version, with the audio barely audible, and it is this same version that I was listening to in MAS’ flight.

How do I know this again? Do I listen to bootlegs and pirated versions?

I admit that sometimes I do, mainly because of the difficulty of obtaining an original copy abroad, and sometimes EPs sells out fast even in Malaysia. I made it a point to buy an original copy as soon as I can get one, and go support their tour whenever I can.

However, I digress, and let’s return to the issue of MAS playing an unoriginal copy of an indie band’s album, with horrible audio quality I might add, in a commercial international flight. A number of questions immediately come to my mind, starting with who handles the selection process anyway, and what were they thinking?

If MAS really wishes to feature MUH, was this an oversight or a sloppy job in obtaining their rare EP? Since it was so hard to find it, MAS just decided to use the bootlegged version. How was this even allowed?

Even more disturbing is this scenario: MAS decided to feature MUH to follow demand or trends, and decide to just use the bootlegged version so they won’t have to pay a cent for it. After all, they’re just a small indie band, not some famous band backed by a major label. Please pardon me my ignorance on the music industry, but shouldn’t there be some kind of royalty paid to the band for playing their songs?

If it was the former scenario, I really hope that MAS can obtain the original copy, for the sake of promoting local music and maintaining their professionalism. Who the hell showcases half-done albums on international flights anyway?

If it was the latter, then the behaviour is plain disgusting. Surely even indie bands deserve respect and fair treatment.

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