Khai Aziz has for the last 20 years been advocating a drug-free lifestyle to youths through music — punk rock to be more precise
By KURNIAWATI KAMARUDIN
HAVING watched his older brother literally destroyed by drugs while growing up, Mohammad Khairuddin Aziz resolved not to fall into the wretched world of addiction.
Not only has he stayed true to his resolution, the 42-year-old activist, singer and songwriter has also for the last 20 years been advocating a drug-free lifestyle to youths through music — punk rock to be more precise.
Why punk rock, considering that this music genre is often associated with substance abuse and rave parties?
“Punk rock or any other music can be enjoyed by anyone without doing drugs and I’ve been able to prove that not all hardcore music lovers are aggressive and on drugs,” declared Mohammad Khairuddin, who used to be the lead singer of a punk band called Second Combat.
Punk music, he added, is often demonised by people who do not understand the philosophy of the struggle behind the music.
“It’s said that music goes hand in hand with drugs during live performances. But that’s only a perception, just as some people believe that entertainers take drugs to get inspiration and perform more energetically. But we musicians who oppose drug use don’t believe in all those things,” he told Bernama.
Mohammad Khairuddin, who is popularly known as Khai Aziz in the music circles, also takes the anti-drug message to schools via his non-governmental organisation Drug-Free Malaysia (formerly known as Drug-Free Youth Association Malaysia), which he founded 10 years ago.
To date, he and fellow association members have directly reached more than 14,000 students at 126 schools nationwide.
Mohammad Khairuddin’s Drug-Free Malaysia works closely with the Los Angeles, California-based Foundation for Drug-Free World of the Americas, a non-profit organisation that empowers youth and adults with factual information about drugs, so they can make informed decisions and live drug-free.
The passion and hard work he has put into his anti-drug movement and music have not gone unnoticed. A song he composed, titled “Drug Free Anthem”, has been selected as the official song for the Foundation for Drug-Free World of the Americas’ 13th Annual Drug-Free Hero Award Gala & United Nations Convention scheduled for May 28 and 29 in New York City.
The events are being held in honour of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse that falls on June 26.
Mohammad Khairuddin is also among the five recipients of the Drug-Free Hero award in recognition of their significant contributions to drug education, prevention and awareness.
Not only that, he and his newly formed band named Drug Free Malaysia have also been invited to perform at the gala, as well as at the Drug Free Basketball Tournament scheduled to take place on May 27 in New York City.
“It (performing in New York City) is something that I never expected to happen in my life,” said an elated Mohammad Khairuddin, who has composed over 100 songs conveying positive messages to youth.
The song “Drug Free Anthem” was composed in 2013 and parts of its lyrics were taken from Foundation for Drug-Free World’s pledge, he said.
Pointing out that his struggle to educate Malaysian youths against the evils of drug addiction has not been an easy one, the father-of-four said he is looking forward to performing in the Big Apple with his band as he views it as an opportunity to convey his anti-drug message to a wider audience.
“(The Foundation for) Drug-Free World has helped me a lot in my efforts in Malaysia’s drug-free movement as they provided me with anti-drug brochures and modules,” he said.
Recalling how he developed his interest in punk music, Mohammad Khairuddin, who was born and raised in Kampung Jawa, Klang, said he was inspired by his elder brother Azhar Aziz who played the guitar well.
He said he was about 17 years old when he saw Azhar turning into a heroin addict.
“He used to go in and out of rehabilitation and his addiction troubled my family a lot. That’s when I started hating drugs. My hatred grew when I worked as a waiter at a nightclub where I used to see with my own eyes drugs being peddled,” he said, adding that his brother passed away in 2015 aged 43.
In 1997, Mohammad Khairuddin, who was 19 then, embarked on his mission to establish an anti-drug movement through music and skateboarding in Klang, drawing inspiration from the efforts of some punk communities in the west who embrace the “straight edge” culture Straight edge is a term used to describe fans of hardcore punk music who abstain from alcohol, nicotine and illegal drugs.
“Later, I formed my band Second Combat which we used as a platform to deliver positive messages to youths wherever we performed, including underground gigs. I composed songs and lyrics encouraging them to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said the talented singer.
Mohammad Khairuddin, meanwhile, is currently raising funds to enable him and his five band members, as well as two representatives of the Drug Prevention Association of Malaysia, to attend the Drug-Free Hero Award Gala & United Nations Convention in May.
“We’re still short of RM50,000 and are seeking donations from the public to enable us to make the trip to the US,” he added. — Bernama