Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Day The Music Died

Today, twenty years ago, the music died on me. 

It came as a shock, and though rumours had been abound, I had refused to listen to them. Although I knew that it was forthcoming, still when the day came, I was stunned. I grew up admiring him and adoring his music and boy, did he come out with some everlasting songs and music in his lifetime. 
I was only 13 when he won the 1976 Bintang RTM singing competition, singing Seruling Bambu and Big Spender and he made a big impression on me. Of course all the boys at MRSM KB who was watching (at the tv room above the Dewan Makan) had a field day with the latter song, due to the double meaning of the title of the song. Double meaning never ceases to amuse men! Or boys in this case, and everybody would go around, screaming, “Hey, big spender!”
When he released his first EP Teriring Doa, I had no hesitancy in buying it (though on second thought, I think that probably it was Mak who bought it at my request). I think it cost her RM1.75 for the EP – big money those days, mind you. Now, many would claim to be his fans, but not many would be able to claim to have his original vinyl from his first release – long before he became very big with his releases in 1980. 
The songs were great premonition of what the future holds for him. The title song is great but I especially love the song “Suratku Yang Ini” – in this song, a girl is reading up her letter, telling his boyfriend/lover/husband about how frustrating and confused she is with his ‘immense’ love. She sounds so frail in this song – all the more reasons to really love this song. (Being the incurable romantic that I was, huh?)
First ever EP in 1977. From my own personal collection

His second album Aku Penghiburmu in 1978 (though he in a later album referred to it as his first) was to take him to greater height. It’s an unforgettable album, more so for the fact that I was very disappointed with Ahmad Nawab for giving his songs (KasihGugur Ditangkai Madu and Aku Penghiburmu) to the late Broery Marantika when the former left EMI for WEA and Sudir had to compete with Broery for the fans’ preference. Mak being a Broery’s fan, thought that Broery’s delivery was better, while I was rooting and advocating for the newbie. On the radio, you would hear both versions being aired, competing for our attentions. It was unreal. Those were the extra-ordinary days.
Then, obviously I lived on Sudir’s songs. My siblings and I would take turn buying his vinyls, and his vinyls did not only contain great songs, but also contain his funny sketches. (He is such a good artist!) No, we didn’t have to wait until we were sure that they would become popular, we knew we were going to love all his songs! 

It was as simple as that.
Anyway, it is not my intention to list down all his songs, but suffice to say that all the songs in his albums are great song. Beyond getting great compositions from S Atan, he wrote many songs himself – Aku Penganggur, “Nilai Cintamu” and “Dimanakah Nilai Cintamu are some of the great songs written by him. Now, that’s rare in those days; no, make it even today. Most singers would be relying on the songs factory that was Ahmad Nawab.
Maya and Ana (tak dapat dilupakan) are two beautiful songs written for two girls. Maya is about his childhood sweetheart with whom he had happy memories - a song that will always remain in my heart. However Ana is perhaps more melancholic (I still melt hearing the orchestral violin, and the saxophone) – I love both nonetheless.
Some of my Sudir's LP collection
In 1980, he came out two great albums – Anak Muda and Lagu Anak Desa. Now that’s a rarity by today’s standard – that an artist is able to release two albums in a year – normally he would be lucky to have one a year. He was at the height of his popularity and creativity. I think I had memorized all the songs from those albums and would be humming his songs at every opportunity while of course preparing for my SPM. 
A best friend, Kodeq (one Madhadzir Hassan from Darwin 5), noted in jest in my autograph book at the end of 1980, in his Penang slang, “Hang ni lagi satu, fanatik sangat kat Sudirman, semua lagu dia hang suka, sampai baghah telinga aku, berlendir malah berlendiaq.” Hahaha, correct, Deq, you are 100% correct, well said! That’s me in the late 70s and nothing has changed in 2007.
I still remember that day in 1992. It was mid-day, the end of a half day working Saturday, while waiting for my bus at Central Market (I was working at Dayabumi), when The Malay Mail (they were then an afternoon edition) broke the news of his death. I was crushed but I knew exactly how an article should be written in tribute to him in the newspaper. I called up a reporter at the The Star and told her to use the phrase from the Don McClean’s song (American Pie) “the day the music died” as a title for her write-up. She did just that for an article that contained interviews with Sudir’s fans, including this writer. (Of course having the uncommon surname Hariri would prevent my full name from appearing in that article, since the reporter is another Hariri. That would be nepotism, wouldn’t it?). The title and my rambling appeared on Page 3 of The Star the next day and I had a personality change to H.Abdul Rahman. That was my two paragraphs worth of fame!
The Day After - Dad and son in a solemn mood as they reflect on life without his music at their home in Sri Gombak. On the table were the day's newspapers and his LPs. The headlines that say Sudir is Dead (Malay Mail), Sudirman Sudah Mati (Metro), Sudir Dies (The Star) had caused a furore and they had to explained their reasons for choosing such insensitive title no matter how correct the language was. I used to keep the clippings till I lost them a few years back after moving one house too many.
Newspaper reporting his death on Feb 23, 1992

That day, the music had died on me. To me Sudirman is The Music. Sure, his music lives on and will outlive me, but The Music died that day!

Tags: sudir
Thursday February 22, 2007 - 12:32am (SGT) Permanent Link | 1 Comment

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Empat kali ambik test, tak pass pass

Alhamdulillah, in academics, I had never tasted failure (read: having to repeat) both at the Uni or high school. Life has been smooth for me, so I am thankful to Him. 

Yes, the dean of mechanical engineering did warn me at one time in his office at Monash when I failed his subject in 1982. Yes, he even threatened to kick me out if I ever fail again. I am pleased to report of a happy ending in this particular case.

Barely though.

A friend of mine told me more than a decade ago of how his brother had to take SPM three times, before he passed the third one. No he did not score straight A's then eventhough he should have since he would have memorized the entire SPM books.

He is now a successful businessman (and a multi-millionaire).

I told this friend of mine that even though I am not a millionaire (let alone a multi-millionaire), I do not wish to follow his brother's foot steps. There are reasons why he is successful today - he dared to failed and that he would not let that be an obstacle for him to move on and try again. I'd believe I would do the reverse had I failed at my (SPM) attempt.

I would probably walk away and give up.

But he did not.

Akmal passed at his first attempt in getting a driver's license today. So did Arif 3 years earlier. So I complained to the both of them that I thought the driving test in Malaysia is too easy. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can pass, earn their right to drive and then would go all out to make Malaysia No 1 country in accident.

They concur.

May be we should increase the driving age to 21 and not 17.

So now we have four drivers in our household. That's the max for now, I guess; and for sure we are not going to have four cars in our garage. For one, we can't fit all four cars in that small garage of ours. 

Secondly I am sure my pocket is not deep enough to have four carst!

Talking about failure, and license, the only blotched in my resume would be just that. I failed four (4) times in my driving tests all in 1981. I was not younger than Akmal and Arif now, but for some reasons I could not passed my tests. The test officer would always find fault with my driving. At one time, he even did an emergency brake on me.

That was an automatic failure.

So in the end, I simply gave up and not bothered to continue. About the only consolation I got from this sad episode was driving through the nice Perth suburbs and it was a totally enjoyable experience.

Throughout my university days, I did not have a driving license, so I would walk, take the bus or train everywhere.

Only when I returned in 1986, I got my license at first attempt in Malaysia.

So a failure in Australia - four times at that, and yet, I had no problem in getting on within 3 months of returning. How do we reconcile that?

Is there a wonder about our high accident rates?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Manchester United vs Liverfool

It has been more than 5 years I have not watched a live game.

For one, I dont have ASTRO. So in the end I would have to rely on soccernet to get my soccernews  of a team I have supported since 1974. My first ever live game of Manchester United would be the 1976 FA Cup loss to a second division team called Southampton. It was a wonderful game with a beautiful passing game from MU, except for that second half goal from Bobby Stoke from which MU never recovered.

Of course they made amend in 1977 with that sweet 2-1 victory over treble chasing Liverfool.

Of course then and in the 80s, I got bored watching Liverfool getting their hands on the First Division championship, but my support for United never wavered.

Watching the game from a hotel somewhere near the straits of Malacca, I thought it was a good game by United. For the record, I thought Suarez, Daglish and Liverfool were pathetic over the Evra incident.

But the reason I wrote this piece is to record Shebby Singh's post game commentary:

"I have never seen such a pathetic display by a Liverfool team in a soccer game."

"I thought Liverfool were scared of Manchester United"

I didn't say those words. It was Shebby's.

But I could not agree more with him, hehehe.


The real reason I wrote this is that I was bored by the noisy Liverfool's fans on FB who kept on posting everything Liverfools. C'mon, there are more to life than a soccer match. I thought it was pathetic. Cukup-cukup la posting kat FB.

Tukar lah topic sekali sekala!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Afriani Susanti, sang algojo Tugu Tani

(Nearly) Twenty years ago, when I started frequenting Indonesia (as part of my job), I though we were both at least decades apart.

Both physical and mental progress.

My Indonesian clients (and later on friends) would lament on how we had progressed so far, when in the 60s and 70s,  it was Indonesia who were helping Malaysia by sending their teachers in order to upgrade  our education systems. It didn't take us that long to surpass them, and in the 90s, so many of our consultants were providing services to our counterparts in the oil and gas industries in various capacities.

When my Canadian counterpart Vince and I visited Dumai for training in 1994, we had problem returning home since we didn't register our departure at the transport office - instead we headed to the port, and hence we were prevented from leaving.

But then, there is nothing that some hard, cold cash cannot grease the palms, and hence instead of having to stay there for another day, we were accorded VIP status and hence were able to leave.

We had no choice as otherwise we would incur another night's at the hotel and wasted our time instead of being back in the office (in Singapore). I was telling Vince of the history between the two nations, and how close we were to become one nation. His response?

"You are so lucky that you didn't. They would have drained you dry," I remember very well Vince's statements then. That's Vince; he is not someone who would mince his words.

Since the last decade or so, since the age of "reformasi", they had made tremendous progress, far beyond our shores to be honest. Things are very transparent there; they would dare calling a spade a spade. Things would be debated over on the telly, irrespective of the deeds or wrongdoings were done by the government or the 'oppositions'.

Very unlike us.

In the report in Jakarta Globe on Monday, it was reported that last year alone, Indonesia lost USD283 million due to graft. Mind you, we are talking about 2011 alone; it is nearly a billion ringgit, mind you. This was reported by Indonesia Corruption Watch, and they break it down to the following:

1. Embezzlement Rp123 trillion
2. Bogus project Rp 446 billion
3. Misappropriation Rp Rp181 billion
4. Mark-ups Rp 171 billion
5. Mark-downs Rp Rp66 billion
6. Illegal levies, abuse of power, bribery, gratification etc

I am not sure what's the markdowns are for, and how one profited from such venture.

I know things are still bad, but Indonesia are improving and they are improving fast. Years ago, I would have to frequent the small room at many port of entry in Indonesia; now I would not have too.

On the other hands, I would like to know the figures for Malaysia. Kapal selam, shopping, cincin, lembu - you name it, we got it all. But unlike the Indonesians, everything was hush-hushed up in Malaysia. After 50 years of ruling the country, all the Malays are good at is how to mess up everything that was given to us.

You name it - MAS, NFC, the navy ships, Proton, Bank Bumi, Perwaja; too many and too numerous to mention here. A former primary schoolteacher of mine told me recently why could not the Malays manage the country well enough, so much so the others like the Chinese, and Indians would not have anything bad to say about us. She has a point, and she quoted MAS as an example.

Even though she was not an accountant, and taught primary school children in the 60s-80s, she knew very well that by selling the MAS building, it did not constitute profit by MAS. She definitely has a point and I could not answer her to be honest.

We call ourselves Muslims with a strict Halal code and yet...[sigh]

But the biggest news in Jakarta happened on Sunday. Nine people died when Afriani Susanti rammed her car on kids and people waiting at a bus halt right in the middle of Jakarta.

Apparently she was on ecstasy!

She was calmed when she came out of her car, and I am not sure how did she do it. Many in Indonesia are clamouring for very heavy sentence for her.

Here is the scene at Tugu Tani in Jakarta. I asked my cab driver if she was bashed up by the crowd; apparently she was not and he said may be because it was a she and hence she was spared. I don't know; I probably would have bashed her up to be honest.