PujanggaMalam.com – Ten Years On…


I actually typed this entry way back in 2010 and left it in the Drafts section because I wanted to make a victory speech of sorts as a means to hit out at my haters and detractors who were undermining me for my entries, commentaries and analysis. This was initially meant to be an entry to silence and show them, “Hey, if the mainstream media has finally recognised my work for them to invite me to cover their events, then I must have been doing something right all along!!!” Also I did not realise I have reached this milestone till the recent Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza concert, which dawned on me that I have been blogging for the past ten years since February 2004. It has been a long journey, filled with ups and downs, joy, bliss, rejections, and for the first time at Dato Siti‘s concert, embarrassment and humiliation in the presence of my fellow media counterparts (more on that in my upcoming review of the concert).

Sinar Lebaran 2013 2013-07-05 1270The Mediacorp Suria staff (whom I share a good working relationship with) with the Ratu Suria contestants post-Sinar Lebaran 2013

I used to and still feel small whenever I am invited to cover any entertainment events, for the fact that I am mostly a one-man team. There is nothing spectacular about my blog either, as I do not have the expertise to create a more vibrant design, nor add adverts or frilly scripts to make it more pleasing to the eye, being the tech idiot that I am. I also do not have the luxury of a fellow writer, photographer or videographer tagging along with me. My wife helps me out from time to time with recording video snippets but even then, I find it tedious and time consuming having to edit and upload them afterwards. Already editing photographs take up a lot of my personal time. Through entertainment blogging, I find joy in attending live shows, getting to know people in the industry as well as learn and understand why certain things are what they are, especially when the general public demands to know why certain things cannot be done or impossible to execute, for instance.

Another set of people I enjoy working with, the radio fraternity…

Through such learning experiences over the years, I developed a more empathic approach towards producing a balanced entry. I now try to be more understanding why certain things transpire and even when things go wrong, I am able to forgive and give benefit of doubt. I am very sure those who have followed this blog for the longest time would note how much I have mellowed down since when I first started out with all guns blazing whenever I see something to my chagrin. Bombing away and forming seething (and sometimes wild) observations, used to be the hallmark of my entries, but I still maintained decorum and without the need to use vulgarities to get my points across. I believe this was partly why I was finally received by Mediacorp Suria to cover their events beginning with Anugerah 2009. I am also honoured to be the first Malay blogger back then to have broken barriers and opened the doors for more to join in covering entertainment events.

Covering one of my close friends’ wedding (DJ KC & Fiza O) was one of the highlights of the past ten years…

This blog has indeed come a long, long way since I first started out using Blogspot as my host. Not to sound calculative with what I had done to increase the stature and reputation of this blog, but this domain of mine has witnessed evolution from its humble beginnings. From grainy photographs taken from my Nokia handphone, to buying a high-end DSLR camera, complete with extended zoom lens as well as a video camera, these were my commitment to the cause of providing quality pictures and video snippets of events and shows I attended. Oh and how can I forget how my domain’s logo and watermark changing over the years to give it a more professional outlook??? Previously it was just a simple word on photographs before I realised they were ugly and spoiling them. That’s when I made trials and errors on the watermark logo before finalising what you see today.

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I did not get to blog on bro Hafeez Glamour‘s “Demi Adriana” book launch due to my busy schedule back then, but I did share photos I took that day in my Facebook account…

You can regard whatever evolution or small changes I’ve done to improve or increase the reputation and quality of my blog, or even whatever promos or reviews I’ve done all these years, as my community service to provide useful information on our local Malay entertainment scene, introducing new acts, reacquaint others with established ones, providing differing views from mainstream media and providing a useful resource in general. From time to time I have people working in the scene thanking me for what I have done, assisting them with valuable information in the process, and it fills me with pride that I have gone in someway to help others, even though I felt like I have done nothing much. It has been a joy so far covering events, helping out with promos and fundings, sharing joyous moments of celebrity weddings, attending concerts and awards shows, book / product / album / single / music video launches, behind-the-scenes filming etc., even if they sometimes come with pain and heartache which most are unaware.

Sri Warisan, very forthcoming and easy to work with when I helped to promo their Bendahara: The Musical event…

Like all those who dare to tread on whatever paths they deem as right or answering the call of passion / challenge, I have faced numerous obstacles and heartbreaks, some of which have affected my relationship with friends I once regarded as siblings. Like anyone who has dared to venture in this line or in this industry, I too have had my fair share of doubters, haters, brickbats and detractors over the years, from comments left in my entries to smses on radio segments, in blog posts right down to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the now defunct Multiply site. People questioned my credibility and qualifications in pouring forth my thoughts across, not to mention those that have bitched about my flawed interest in the entertainment scene and how I was just trying to fit in and make a name for myself. Cos truth be told, I’m not cut out to be a singer / actor / host / radio presenter – possible career paths which at some point of time in my life I had tried to be involved or had some interest in, but did not work out. But what did not kill me only made me stronger.


Covering the whole edition of Ratu Suria was an unforgettable experience for the fact that I had to defend the contestants alot in the face of online criticisms, bombarding them from their looks down to their level of intellect…

Call me arrogant or conceited for dedicating an entry reminiscing my past ten years in entertainment blogging, but I believe I have come a long way to proving that what I have been doing for the past decade have always been genuine, sincere, honest, patient, responsible, having self-belief and having loads of passion for the media / entertainment line – seven important traits you need to possess to survive in this harsh industry. The good people who have kindly invited me to cover their events, other than the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), might have taken notice of those values and principles I so dearly hold on to, and for that I’m extremely thankful to them for acknowledging the work I had painstakingly put up all these while. Even though I am unable to attend all of these invites to launches or shows due to work and family commitments, I still appreciate the invitations and feel honoured that people do recognise my efforts.

I was honoured to have covered Rita Zahara‘s heritage cookbook launch back in January 2012

Unlike other famous entertainment bloggers across the Causeway, I’m not paid to do what I enjoy doing and even though I’m only doing it as a hobby during my recreational time, I try to give off my best, every single damn time. Most of the concerts I had reviewed so far in my domain, I paid with my hard-earned money and received no sponsorship whatsoever nor official accreditation from the respective organisers. Even when I try to get accreditation, most of the time, my requests were turned down or comes with certain limitations. Which is why till today I am a bit peeved with certain concert / show / event organisers, why they can invite foreign entertainment bloggers and even pay them to cover their events when a small fry like myself who is trying to help and promote new acts for free featured in their concerts, did not even receive any invite to cover and still had to pay to enter the concert venue.

And Fiza O‘s beauty product launch a month after, possibly the first Malay personality to lend her name to a beauty product…

There is something seriously wrong with the local Malay entertainment industry when foreign journalists / bloggers are being paid to cover events and shows, yet the local ones are not being considered or thought of. Also I find it perplexing till this day when I got to know some of our local acts had to sell tickets to one of their concerts to earn their rightful commissions, whereas the foreign acts featured together did not have to go through that form of treatment. While I appreciate the organisers wanting to instil a sense of business-minded tact in our local acts, it creates a form of quiet discontent, that there is a form of double standards being practised, especially when the foreign artistes were being paid and provided lodging without having to sell the concert tickets. And I do not blame them for feeling low and down as a result. Over the years, I’ve been like an Agony Aunt to some of the problems faced by our local acts, and from time to time, will highlight their plights in my entries.

Another momentous moment in 2012 was covering Siti Zahidah‘s album launch and showcase…

Another gripe I have with some local event organisers is their lack of gratitude. Back in 2012, I had planned to cover an event which showcased solely on upcoming local acts. It was a free concert held outside a community club. Out of respect, I just messaged the organisers to say I would like to cover their event and record video snippets of the performers. The plan was to introduce some of these acts on my domain, so people would be made aware of their talents. The reply I received was the event was not theirs per se, but the community club’s so they were unsure if they could allow me to record any video snippets. I was extremely fine with that till I came and saw so many in the audience recording away via their smartphones and iPads. In addition, I did not see any staff from the community club overseeing the whole event or anyone stopping these people from recording.

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Another event I covered but did not manage to blog about was the Te:RaSeh! Road Tour last May

Here I am trying to do a kind service for our local acts, yet my intentions got knocked back just because of a trivial reason and lack of responsibility. Suffice to say, I have refrained from attending any events or shows organised by this event organiser till today. I just cannot understand people turning down free promos online, when they have to fork out hundreds for a space on mainstream media. For the longest time, I have refrained from charging a fee to do promos and write-ups. Because I know our local industry does not pay as well as that across the Causeway with production houses and other organisations limited with fundings. I have been asked by people close to me, why have I not charged or earned anything out of what I enjoy doing??? There is simply no market for it over here, sad to say, or companies would be loathed to part their money for a simple promo.

Den Sabari and Huda Ali‘s wedding back in July 2010 was the first celebrity wedding I covered in this domain…

Speaking of promos, I’ve had over the years event /expo organisers taking my photographs on the Net without asking for my permission, even if my watermark is there for all to see. I will not go as far as saying they “stole” my photographs, even though the promotional photos used have clearly wiped them out, or just a cutout image of the artistes featured. I cannot blame the organisers fully, as from one classic example recently, I found out that the ones doing their promotional poster design was from an external department, a case of communication breakdown somewhere during their planning stages. Something they could have avoided doing when they agreed on what photos that could be used. But me being the ever-forgiving one, will always give others the benefit of doubt and accept people sometimes overlook these sort of things.

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Another one of those events I covered, but only shared in my Facebook account, Fiesta Suria 2013

If I want to be extremely anal about this, I could even bang on their doors and ask for a cut of their earnings, cos seriously expo events are a business windfall to some of these organisers and helping them promote via your photographs, you definitely feel that you deserve at least a little token of appreciation. For concerts and shows, it’s 50-50. One can earn a lot if your show is a sell-out, but what if only a handful turn out??? Even I won’t be so mean and damning as to want a certain cut from their earnings, cos I’ve heard some companies closing down after organising a big-scale sell-out concert in Singapore. Strange fact but true. Maybe I’m too nice or feel the legal route can be messy. But we are a small nation with an even smaller community. I don’t wish to kill or create ill feelings out of such matters, but sometimes people don’t realise that being the big fish, they forget simple ethics and courtesy. Sometimes I wonder, is it so difficult to seek permission or reward in kind???

A significant landmark for me was attending Hyrul Anuar‘s “Mata” music video launch back in September 2011, possibly the first of its kind in our local Malay entertainment scene…

I have to admit that I cannot be a journalist as I’m never able to meet datelines or type in a brief and concise manner. My entries are testament to how long-winded I can be. This entry is no different than the rest. I cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable when the term “celebrity blogger” is used on me, nor like to be called and considered one, cos to be one, you need to get thousands of hits daily and doing it on a full-time basis. My domain’s visitorship is not even 400 on most days. Being a celebrity blogger also means you have to share your private life or what you do on an almost daily basis. I am not prepared to be scrutinised, have my privacy exposed and subject my loved ones to be ridiculed or ogled at, especially since I have two young daughters. Some quarters have also labeled me as a “photographer”, but I am just comfortable being known as an “entertainment blogger”, thank you very much!!!

Thanks to Mini Monsters, I was able to cover the launch of their “Lagu-Lagu Kita CD”, aimed to preserve the heritage of songs we grew up with and to continue its legacy for the coming generations…

When this blog first started out in 2004, I did talk about my life just like any decent blogger out there. I think I also shared some of my photographs taken with famous personalities. I was also more vocal and critical when it came to reviewing and assessing shows / concerts I attended. But as my blog statistics rise over the years, I began to shy away from talking about my private life or putting up photos of myself, or with personalities, preferring instead to highlight the real stars themselves on this blog. With more eyes glued on this domain, building networks with people in the industry, gaining some form of respect through my brutal honesty, as well as being aware of the implications I might run into because of my often-harsh comments, I believe over the years, I have matured as a blogger and being more responsible and tactful with what I say or put across. I believe that nowadays I blog more with my head than my heart.

(Photograph courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I will forever be thankful to Mediacorp Suria for inviting me to keep goal for them in the tournament that honoured my late uncle, the legendary Dollah Kassim from 2010-2012

Which might explain why some people have wondered of late, how come I’ve gone soft and less scathing for the past three or four years. Perhaps fatherhood has changed me to be more understanding, to be more forgiving, to be more tolerant and of course to be more accepting of what is presented in front of me. I know I began as a gun-toting, trailblazing, devil-may-care writer (or typist), but it is only effective to a certain extent. People respect views when it comes from the heart, but at the same time, the head needs to balance the emotions so that one does not become too critical or damning. Anyway, my network has grown over the years. Any criticisms that I dish out henceforth, needs to be laced with a certain degree of empathy or at the very least, giving others that benefit of doubt. I don’t just look at things from my point of view but also from the points of those I am commenting on. This holistic approach might soften my style, but I am sure you know I will not mince my words when I experience the red mist.

Am glad to say I was physically there when Fiza O celebrated her 30th birthday and simultaneously announced she was getting married to her colleague, DJ KC

Being popular and mentioned in the same breath as artistes is not what I had intentionally set out to do. Unable to realise my dreams as a singer / actor / host / radio DJ were also not the main reasons why I became a blogger whose entries are focused on our local Malay entertainment scene, mostly on the musical side of it. I believe there is only so much we can rely on our print media as they have their own limitations and space constraints in terms of monthly / daily publication release, what they can talk about and how much they can feature. Personally, I would like to see more people doing what I’m doing, cos it would be nice to hear differing views and opinions on our local entertainment industry. It would also add more colour and vibrancy since our industry is slowly growing and expanding. I became a blogger who types on local Malay entertainment stuff because there was a dearth and general scarcity in people doing it. I hope more would be inspired to follow my path, given that blogging at one point of time, was quite in and spread across the generations.

Attending events like Sinaran Hati makes one appreciative of the efforts of the artistes who set aside time to give back to the community…

Hand on heart, I would rather remain in the background than be what my haters claimed me to be, and to quote one comment I stumbled upon years ago, that I am “feeling-feeling artis gitu“, probably due to the fact that I dressed to the nines on a number of occasions that I attended previous music award shows. I was merely respecting the occasion and since my weight was ballooning, I couldn’t fit into my old shirts and had to rely on my kind outfitters. If people have a big problem with that, then so be it. I might have uploaded some of my personal photographs in my Facebook account, which I apologise is only limited to those I know personally, but to share them in my blog is a bit too much to ask for. I do not understand where these people get the idea that I’m using the blogging medium as a means to prostitute myself and be famous. If people appreciate what I do as a yeoman service, then it gives me as much pleasure to provide them with news, promotions and reviews of events, concerts and shows which some of them did not manage to attend, or for those who did, to relive them all over again. What I wear to these events are very much secondary.

One of the events I enjoyed covering – the outdoor Festival Melayu Ada gigs, organised by Cokelat Events and Zaibaktian

This entry was typed not only to celebrate and reminisce this blog’s journey over the past ten years, but was typed both as a means of defiance to the brickbats as well as to give hope to aspiring writers / bloggers out there that if your intentions are genuine, sincere in your approach, passionate in what you do, honest in how you think, responsible in what you say, having faith in yourself and being patient in the face of adversity, one day your efforts will eventually be recognised, people will begin to respect your views, readers will learn to accept and trust you, knowing full well that you’re not merely running your mouth off for the sake of it. People will be able to discern whether you command respect or lack thereof. It took me five years to finally receive official credibility from a very distinguished national media, a long time frame that perhaps could break one’s resolve if your intentions are flawed or you are chasing after personal agendas, fame or glory.

If not for celebrity blogger, Diah Mastura, who could not make it to this event, I would not have been able to feature this exclusive showcase of Anuar Zain in my blog back in 2011

Even if I’m not invited again to cover future events after this entry is published and people think I’ve suddenly grown too big for my own shoes by harping about my personal achievements, I think I would be happy and assured to know that future Malay entertainment bloggers, if there are any others in the first place, could always hang on to the hope that anything is possible so long as they stick to the seven traits I stressed upon in the earlier paragraphs. I would love to have added an eighth trait which is humility. But I’m afraid some of you out there would gleefully point out that I am being hypocritical by talking about what I have achieved so far in this entry, which of course would undermine everything I’ve mentioned. However, I believe people who meet and get to know me personally would be better and wise judges of that. Cos words typed on screen have an eerie tendency of having double meanings or tones, which in turn can sometimes mislead into swaying one’s judgements of a person, since you do not know if he is being serious or joking.

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My very first album launch event I covered back in December 2006, Imran Ajmain‘s debut album “Dengan Secara Kebetulan“…

I’m more or less a grounded person, and I don’t believe in holding extravagant parties just to celebrate the anniversary of this blog or my existence in the scene. Heck I even forgot that I have reached this milestone till I was on the verge of covering Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s concert last weekend. That’s how much I feel that such celebrations are unnecessary. Even if I can afford to do that, I will still not do it. I think the money is better off spent somewhere or donate to charity / welfare organisations. Anyway, am just considered a “Kucing Kurap” in the scene, which is why sometimes when I cover events, I get restricted privileges or am limited with the things I can share or feature in this blog. I don’t expect nor want anyone to do any celebrations for me either, cos every entry for me is a celebration to those that I feature, the real stars themselves.

The very first media conference I attended – Suria Elektra – in February 2010

I know too well that over the years, I have ruffled a lot of feathers with my honest-to-goodness comments, be it in my blog entries or even comments made on radio segments. I am naturally a very opinionated person and a non-conformist. I can be tactless sometimes and too brutal, to the point I do not mince my words when I am really pissed off. Which is why, it is best that sometimes I cool down before typing my coming entry with a clear head and with a better choice of vocabulary I can use to describe what I feel. To those who have been at the brunt or wrong end of my lambasting words, insinuations, points of reference, examples and felt small, angered or even disappointed, I am taking this opportunity to apologise for words that might have hurt you. I am only human, and I try all the time to improve on how I address things as they come. I cherish every friendship and acquaintanceship I make along the way.

Covering Anugerah Planet Muzik, an event very much close to my heart, is something I look forward to annually…

To all who believed and have placed your trust in me for the past ten years, and continue to be loyal and silent readers of this domain, words cannot describe how thankful and appreciative I am to you. I will continue striving to provide good reviews and better quality photographs of events, concerts and shows, launches, celebrity weddings etc. I attend in time to come, and I will always be thankful to those I had worked with and continue to be sharing a good working relationship like the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), Manggiz, Sri Warisan, Cokelat Events, Gridmedia Productions, ATeR | ReTA, Mini Monsters, WorkHeart, Gumbira, amongst many others I am unable to mention thanks to my ageing memory. Also, to all the lovely celebrity couples who have allowed me the privilege to cover your respective wedding events and shared the joyous moments with my readers. This blog is nothing without your kind support… 🙂

Piala Dollah Kassim 2012 – Cease of Coverage

Based on visitor search on the abovementioned charity tournament and coming into this blog, I believe there are people looking for news / updates on this tournament or waiting to see video highlights of recent matches. I apologise for having to disappoint you as I had ceased my coverage of the tournament with effect from the second round of matches (28 October 2012). I will not explain more, as I do not want to bother and waste my breath anymore. I believe Mediacorp Suria have informed the organisers that this will be their last involvement in the tournament. The decision was made not only because of what happened in this tournament, which the team felt aggrieved by, but a snowball effect from previous tournaments. Do I need to justify and explain everything on my chest the reasons for the team’s withdrawal???

In the past, I would go on a personal crusade and type paragraphs after paragraphs to state my cause, but this time I don’t see the need to, because I do not want to embarrass any parties with my words which if I were to say it, will only cause further unhappiness and disharmony, knowing full well my arsenal of vocabulary have a tendency of hurting others deeply. Regular readers of this blog would note that I tend to be more expressive and lambasting when my anger is ignited, but I will not go there. I would just like to end this entry by thanking Mediacorp Suria for giving me the opportunity to turn out for the team for the past three tournaments. It has been an absolute honour to have played with a wonderful bunch of fun players over the years (you know who you are), keeping goal and clean sheets, taking over the skipper’s role on several occasions, and even winning the tournament the last time out. Good memories with the team which I intend to keep till my last breath…

Piala Dollah Kassim 2012 – Matchday One Results…

Piala Dollah Kassim 2012 or aptly known as Dollah Kassim Charity Cup 2012, kicked off in earnest last weekend, 7th October 2012, at ITE College East (Simei). In the opening match, two-time champions Berita Harian opened their accounts by beating newbies of the tournament, Singapore Music Society, 3-0. The newbies featured familiar faces like actor / host Fadly Awaludin, and former Mediacorp Suria players, Fauzie Laily and Fadhlur Rahman. The newbies gave a good account of themselves even though it was the first time that the players came together without any prior trainings or meet-ups. The Berita Harian team, which came so close to gracing the grand final last year and lost out on goal difference to defending champions Mediacorp Suria in the qualifying round, looks like the dark horse once again to  threaten the likes of Suria as well as the team from Perkamus-COMPASS.

The Mediacorp Suria team of 2012… (photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

In the second match in which yours truly played, Mediacorp Suria defeated the team from Persatuan Dramatis Singapura, 6-1. I have to admit that the scoreline was a bit flattering to the defending champions, but the losing team walked away from the match with their heads held high and showed better industry and work-rate than their performance last year, when they lost 1-7 to the same team. Suria it has to be said, are still a team in transition after losing more than a third of our players from last year’s victorious team and there is still room for improvement in many areas, as the new and old players strike up some form of understanding between us in terms of passing combination and controlling of match rhythm.

(photo courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

The next round of matches will be held again at ITE College East (Simei) on 21st October 2012, with Persatuan Dramatis Singapura facing off Berita Harian in the first match at 4:00pm and Singapore Music Society playing against Perkamus-COMPASS at 5:30pm. There is however a change in venue on the third qualifying matchday on 28th October 2012. Instead of ITE College East (Simei), the matches between Mediacorp Suria and Perkamus-COMPASS, as well as Singapore Music Society and Persatuan Dramatis Singapura, will be held at ITE College Central (Balestier) at 4:00pm and 5:30pm respectively. Again, entrance to all the matches are free. So if you do not have anything happening on the days mentioned, do come down and lend the tournament your support!!!

Anyway I purposely post this entry today because it is exactly two years that my uncle, Allahyarham Abdullah Bin Mohamed Kassim, better known as Dollah Kassim, in which the charity football tournament is named after, passed on. Two years seems like a long time but it felt like yesterday that he left us all and I still recall the tribute entry I did on his passing. And I know till this day, his immediate family members on both sides still cling on to every sweet memory they have of him and will not stop to think about him daily. As his nephew who was lucky to experience his immense and exemplary kindness, sincerity and generosity for 31 years, these were traits that will live long in my memory and good examples for me to emulate. Playing in this tournament as I have said time and time again, is my personal tribute to a man who was my favourite uncle. May Allah bless his soul and place him in JannahAl-Fatihah

Piala Dollah Kassim 2012 Media Conference…

Piala Dollah Kassim (Dollah Kassim Charity Cup) returns for a fifth edition this year!!! Due to the overwhelming success of the previous two editions (2010 & 2011), the organisers, Persatuan Karyawan Muzik Singapura (PERKAMUS) has continued to build on the momentum by combining with Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) to stage this year’s event. The media session and drawing of fixture match-ups for the qualifying rounds were held this past Friday evening, 28th September 2012, at the rooftop of Singapore Press Holdings, venue of previous media sessions pertaining to the event. The guest-of-honour for the event was none other than Allahyarham Uncle Dollah‘s son and my cousin, Mohamed Ezaad Abdullah.

This year, the competition welcomes a new team from the Singapore Music Society (SGMuSo), in addition to the four existing teams from Persatuan Dramatis Singapura (Singapore Malay Dramatists Association), Berita Harian, the combined team of PERKAMUS-COMPASS as well as the defending champions, Mediacorp Suria. The tournament promises goals galore and entertainment for the fans. What’s more, the players playing in the tournament are personalities in their own rights. The new kids on the block, SGMuSo, will have the likes of Mel and Joe Ferdinands turning out for them, PERKAMUS-COMPASS will have Jeff Catz, Ikhsan Ace, Didicazli and Syarif SleeQ amongst others, whilst Dramatis will have Roslan Kemat, Amy Kecik, Helmindra J.A. Halim and Khairudin Samsudin amongst others, gracing their team.

As for the defending champions, Mediacorp Suria, who I will be turning out for for the third year running as the team’s goalkeeper, the team has gone through a bit of a transition with at least a third of the squad from the winning team last year not able to make it due to various commitments. The loss of captain and top-scorer Syed Azmir Syed Azman is perhaps the most keenly felt, along with Fauzie Laily, Dzar Ismail, Fadhlur Rahman and Taufiq Salleh, but in their place, the team welcomes five of the “First XI” boys in Muhammad Shammir (Alang), Mohamad Helmi, Mohamed Kiyasudeen, Muhammed Faliq and Muhsin Johari. Abdul Mutalib, who has been turning out for Mediacorp Suria in the previous tournaments, completes the sextet from the successful reality show early this year. The captaincy of the team has been handed down to the most senior member of the team, Rafaat Hamzah.

Guest-of-honour Mohamed Ezaad Abdullah…

I am quite happy so far with what was being briefed during the media conference pertaining to the rules of the event. Prior to the media session, representatives from the participating teams had met up with the organisers and discussed the rules and debating over niggling issues which arose from previous tournaments. I had the opportunity to sit in at one of the meeting sessions and everything was discussed in a very cordial and amicable manner. I am just pleased that some of the unhappiness which I brought up last year in my review of the tournament has been resolved and I am just looking forward to a clean and fair tournament for all. Winning is secondary, it is the spirit of charity and element of fun which we will all be looking forward to the most in this year’s tournament.

Cikgu Yusnor Ef…

Cikgu Yusnor Ef, in his opening speech, threw down a suggestion for relevant authorities like the Football Association of Singapore and National Heritage Board to take up, that is to honour past football greats in any manner possible, so that their contributions will always be remembered and appreciated by the younger generation as a form of inspiration for them to aspire to. This year, proceeds from all the public, individual and team funding will be channeled to the Singapore Children’s Society. PERKAMUS and COMPASS it must be highlighted, will bear the logistics cost and miscellaneous fees. In that respect and echoing their call, I invite you to come down and support the event. This is afterall for an extremely good cause. What’s more, entrance to all the matches is free!!!

This year the tournament will be staged at ITE College East, with the Grand Final on 2nd December 2012. A mini-concert on the day of the Grand Finals will have local artistes performing and a seven-a-side tournament organised by Bikers Aid Singapore. An all-star team from the third, fourth and fifth placed teams will also play in an exhibition match with the Parliamentarian team consisting of several Ministers and Members of Parliament. Unlike previous tournaments, ITE College East is well-equipped in every sense. They even have a cafeteria owned by former international Malek Awab, where watching fans can savour good food at affordable prices. The cafeteria even has prayer rooms for those who want to observe their obligatory prayers. I am certainly looking forward to this upcoming tournament, a chance to showcase our amateur skills to the public and at the same time, contribute to the charity cause and representing my family in memory of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah. Let the games begin!!!

Match schedule courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

Snapshots of the Piala Dollah Kassim 2012 Media Conference

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Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Final Review…

“WE DID IT!!!”

These three words summed up all the emotions the Mediacorp Suria team felt when the referee blew the final whistle to signal the end of a pulsating final and subsequently this year’s edition of the Piala Dollah Kassim tournament, played at the Woodlands Stadium this past Sunday evening. This victory was made sweeter because as compared to last year’s team which had several friendly matches to play prior to last year’s tournament,  the whole team (those retained from last year as well as the newbies this year) only came together a week before the tournament began, whereas some teams had already begun training before Ramadhan came along. We were short of match fitness, cohesiveness and understanding on the pitch and this was evident in our two friendly matches prior to the tournament kick-off, which we drew and lost. More evidently, when we had a three-week break between the  last qualifying game and the Final last week, we could not get any friendly matches to play to sharpen up our game.

Miracle or not, perhaps it was our destiny to win this year. Whatever we lacked on the pitch, we made up for it with relentless self-belief, team spirit, a collective sense of brotherhood where there is no particular star player in the team (even though the team was sprinkling with local celebrities) and most importantly we had a mental resolve and never-say-die attitude which were hallmarks that made us this year’s champions. Five times we conceded throughout the course of this year’s tournament (three in the first game, one each in the third and Final games), but we came back to equalise and salvage our matches, and winning the Final in the process. Victory was all the more sweet because we had no S-League nor ex-international players playing for our team, because this team respects the essence and sanctity of this tournament, which is a charity event first and foremost.

Stepping foot at Woodlands Stadium brought a sense of nostalgia to myself and perhaps my family members who came to watch the match as well. This was the very venue that most of us last saw Allahyarham Uncle Dollah in action for a charity game called “Charity Football Fiesta“, between local celebrities and ex-international footballers back in February 2009. I’m sure my team-mates Taufiq Salleh and captain Syed Azmir, would remember that game as they were in the same team as Uncle Dollah. Before the match began and our team was seen huddling together for quite some time, prompting the emcees to say we were saying our prayers for good luck, they were actually half right. We did say our prayers but not for good luck.  In fact, I was extremely touched by Syed Azmir‘s kind gesture to lead the team in reciting Surah Al-Fatehah for the soul of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah. It might be a small and trivial gesture to some, but as Uncle Dollah‘s nephew and observing from a neutral perspective, it left an indelible impression on me that my team captain is a man of substance and led by example.

The team appeared relaxed prior to the game but most of us were nervous…

The game itself was a like a game of chess in the first half with both sides probing and calculative with every move made. Conditions did not help by the downpour before the game, which rendered the pitch muddy on most parts. The game had to be stopped halfway in the first half as the heavy downpour and lightning prevented us from continuing, which of course delayed the match further. The tempo only picked up in the second half when PERKAMUS scored their first goal within ten minutes after the start. I was beaten by an extremely good goal by Muhammad Farouq, even though I had dived full stretch and gotten my hands to the ball. Maybe ten years ago when I was younger, slimmer and more agile, I could have prevented it from going in. We could have easily been deflated but again as this tournament had witnessed, we came back strongly to equalise through Raja Razie and scoring the winner through Syed Azmir, capitalising on individual errors made by our strong opponents who had been controlling much of the game, while we were contented to sit back and soaked as much as we could from their forays into our area, before counter-attacking them.

Personally I am thankful that we won because it now gives me the opportunity to speak my mind about the tournament from a winning position. It is something I have been keeping inside for one whole year since the last tournament and one which I said in my earlier entries that I would voice out on a later date. The time has finally come to speak my mind. If I were to begin my rant from a losing perspective, it would be easy to condemn me as being sour grapes. While I am eternally thankful to the organiser of this tournament, PERKAMUS, for organising this charity football event by honouring my late uncle, as well as their noble efforts to bring together the media and entertainment industry in Singapore for a good cause, certain things need to be re-evaluated if they were to organise this event again in the coming years ahead. Just because Mediacorp Suria has won, does not mean certain problems and unhappiness felt by the other teams can be swept under the carpet, be forgotten and repeated all over again the following year.

Number one on the agenda is the interpretation of the tournament rules. There needs to be a clear indicator and spelling out to what can be done and what cannot be done to avoid confusion and discontent amongst teams, players and managements alike. The organiser’s decision to field an S-League player who has represented Gombak United FC, seemed to be a contentious debate throughtout the course of the tournament. When queried by the other teams, the organiser said this player’s contract with his club ended on 3 October 2011, but his Facebook profile currently states that he is a part-time footballer with Gombak United FC. Whether his contract ended then or whether he is a part-time footballer, the fact remains that he is still affiliated to a professionally-run club playing in Singapore‘s premier division and no professional club is going to take a player who does not meet their basic prerequisites, qualities that set a professional player apart from those playing amateur or social football.

The team celebrating captain Syed Azmir‘s winning goal…

Between last year’s tournament and this year’s, he had played professional football for an S-League team, so that makes him a professional player, part-time or not. It certainly left a sour taste after last year’s Final which we lost, knowing we were beaten by the presence of a professional league player who had scored twice that night. From my understanding, tournament rules stated that no player is to play for any club team in Singapore. This is a CHARITY tournament afterall, a team does not need to field professional standard players nor ex-internationals in their team to add colour to the competition nor to aid their competitive cause. There are already enough local celebrities and media personalities to make up the tournament, with invited players of amateur or social footballing background adding on to the numbers. Even more surprising were the mysterious appearances of one or two other players, who from my own personal observations, suddenly appeared in the Final but not the qualifying rounds.

I want to go on record and say I am not implying nor  accusing the organiser of cheating, never have and never intended to make it that way, even if I sound as though I am doing so. There will always be loopholes in the rules which any team can take advantage of, and they did so because the player’s contract with his club was apparently up. However, in the interest of competitive fairness and spirit of sportsmanship, I feel and I’m sure many others felt that it is  just not right, because you tend to wonder where is the level playing field when you pit professional standard players against amateurs and social footballers like us in a charity tournament??? You can argue that it is just one player and that one player does not make a team, but if this player is your team’s star and eventual tournament’s top goalscorer, it says a hell lot about his technical abilities on the pitch. Hence why the rules need to be spelt out clearly to avoid unhappiness and misunderstandings.

Our team could have taken a leaf out of the organiser’s book and invited the likes of Baihakki Khaizan (who is currently without a club) or Aide Iskandar (ex-national team captain who has had his fair share of acting stint on television) to turn out for us, but we chose not to as we respect the tournament as it is and do not see the need to make the other teams unhappy. The other teams had protested and rightly so. Personally for myself being a part of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah‘s family, I worried for the intrinsic value of this tournament as it was used in his name. The family had kindly given their blessings for this tournament to be held, it would be nice if they were also informed of the rules governing it and not just a summary of the tournament’s progress. In future if this tournament is to be held, contentious and ambiguous issues like these need to be discussed and agreed upon by all teams, counter-checked by independent sources for transparency sake and approved jointly by the organiser and the family.

Coronation time and scenes of jubilation, as Syed Azmir lifted the trophy …

All teams should also stick to the original squad of 22 that they had registered at the start of the tournament. Any changes in terms of personnel, need to be informed to all teams so that they understand why certain players suddenly appear towards the end of the tournament, when at the start they were not seen. I can understand that perhaps some players are only available on certain dates, but basic courtesy on informing still needs to be observed as a mark of respect to all teams, even if this is a charity tournament. You cannot have players appearing for one or two games disappear and have other stop-gap replacements without informing the other teams, especially if the replacements are players considered more talented and skillful. This creates resentment as to why most teams adhere to the rules while some are able to capitalise on loopholes. We would have gladly lost the tournament with pride if teams did not field players of high calibre and stature, because we know deep in our hearts, we’ve done our bit for charity and knowing we lost to players of the same amateur standard as us. Anyway our community is small, one way or another we know each other and the other person’s footballing background. Hence the need for transparency.

Another peeve that I need to bring up were the emcees of the event. We know that one of them is part of the organising team, but that should not make some of their presentation extremely bias towards their own team. A standard complaint I heard from people who were at the stadium, was that they were simply annoying and I could not agree more. The players were distracted somewhat by the irrelevant commentary by the sidelines, notably in the first half. In future, it would be best to engage emcees who know what the game is all about, who know how to differentiate between a free-kick and a penalty kick, who do not incite the opposing team by saying their players were feigning injury and acting when it was all clear to see that the injured player had his legs taken away and the offending player yellow-carded in the process. Oh not to mention, speaking in good English as well, sans grammatical errors. As an emcee, one needs to be professional, non-partisan, have some knowledge on what they are presenting and of course fluent in the language that they are speaking in.

What irked me the most was when the emcees were interviewing the Youth Olympic Team‘s football players and voicing their disapproval towards the Sports Foreign Talent Scheme. We all have our own sets of agreements or disagreements on the matter and the topic is extremely subjective in my opinion, but when you choose to disagree vehemently, do not speak in your mother tongue when before that, you had been speaking in English throughout. It is not fair to the non-Malay speaking spectators as they do not understand what was being said and it felt as though it was being made a personal conversation to spite them. Certain ethics need to be observed when presenting, you cannot just speak your mind just because the microphone is in your hands. I was just glad when informed after the game, that my young daughter had the presence of mind to march up to one of them and told them to hush and respect the time as it was Maghrib. At least the second half was a bit quieter and the players on both sides lifted their game as they could concentrate better.

The team celebrating victoriously with the trophy in hand…

Other than the three grievances I aired, I still believe and share the sentiment that PERKAMUS did a stellar job in organising this tournament once again, with the public more aware of its existence and with the increase in the number of kind sponsors supporting the event. This is also evident in the number of personalities who have come forward to be a part of this tournament. To get Woodlands Stadium to fill two-thirds of its grandstand capacity on a day it rained, was an achievement of sorts and one they could be proud of. Hopefully their noble efforts in getting proceeds for Jamiyah’s Darul Ma’wa Children’s Home will be rewarded in kind by Allah Almighty, as well as those who had come forward to support the event in cash and kind. For the record, Berita Harian beat Dramatis 9-1 in the third and fourth-placed match played in good-hearted fashion and humour enjoyed by everyone watching.

Personally it was a satisfying experience for me having gone through the heartache and disappointment of losing last year’s Final, having clawed our way back to 2-2 after being 0-2 down at the break, and losing with four minutes to spare. For amateurs like us who can only dream of playing in front of a packed audience, this was the closest we could get to experiencing playing in such a setting. Having players you respected when you were young and watched them play in the Malaysia Cup, watching you in the stands like Hasnim Haron and Syed Faruk Alkaff amongst others, was simply inspirational and lifted my confidence somewhat. I was just fortunate that aside from the goal I conceded, everything went my way because I am often prone to the odd gaffe on the pitch. It helped that the whole team worked hard for each other and continued encouraging and cajoling one another when our opponents led the game.

To the whole Mediacorp Suria team – Syed Azmir (captain), Mohd Fazlan, Miur Rafik, Ikhsan, Mohd Idris, Kassim Jamid, Abdul Mutalib, Raja Razie, Idros Jamid, Rafaat Hamzah, Khairul Ruzaini, Razif Ariff, Shahril Kahar, Shahril Wahid, Fadhlur Rahman, Muhd Dzar, Taufiq Salleh, Effandy Idris, Firdaus Salleh, Aidil Jufri and Fauzie Laily – It was an extreme honour to be on the pitch with you guys as we finally brought the trophy home for the very first time. We might have only played together for six games in total (including our two friendly games), but the spirit and camaraderie we forged was something I would remember and treasure for a long time to come. To manager Ishak Jamid, thank you for inviting me to keep goal for the team and representing my family in the process. To the supporters, especially our family members, who had shouted themselves hoarse last Sunday, this win is dedicated to each and everyone of you. Enjoy the video highlights of the Final match!!!


P.S. All photographs are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Final Preview…

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I know this blog has not been updated for about a month now and I make no apologies as I have not been attending any entertainment-related events of late. After three gruelling round of qualifying matches in this year’s Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament, we have finally come to tomorrow’s penultimate game, a repeat of last year’s Final. Last year, Mediacorp Suria narrowly lost the game 2-3, conceding the third goal with four minutes to spare, after brilliantly coming back to equalise, having gone into the half-time break 0-2 down. You can be sure that Mediacorp Suria will put up a gallant fight tomorrow to dethrone the defending champions.

We have a better team as compared to last year, with all due respect to the rest who played, and it is up to us now to prove that we can do one better than them. Let’s hope that tomorrow’s game will be a clean fight, with no petty fights and no overzealous tackles being dished out. Our first qualifying game with them last month and the Final last year were matches that gave the spectators feasts of goals, and tomorrow’s game promises to continue that trend. So if you have nothing on, please do come down to Woodlands Stadium and witness the champion of Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 being crowned. In the meantime, enjoy the overdue highlights of the last qualifying match between Mediacorp Suria & Berita Harian on 23 October 2011

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Qualifying Match – Mediacorp Suria vs Dramatis…

The second round of qualifying matches in this year’s Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 tournament was played last Sunday at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex. The first match between defending champions PERKAMUS and Berita Harian ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Berita Harian, the champions in the first two editions of the tournament but a disappointment in the last one, have shown they are the dark horses that could upset the favourites tag currently being held by PERKAMUS and Mediacorp Suria. Definitely this  coming Sunday‘s tie between them and Mediacorp Suria will decide who would enter the Grand Final on 20 November 2011, as PERKAMUS is expected to win by a cricket score against the Dramatis team, with all due respect to this humble outfit. As the table stands at the moment, Mediacorp Suria is sharing top spot with Berita Harian on 4 points each but with a better goal difference.

The second match played between Mediacorp Suria and Dramatis last Sunday ended with a score of 7-1, in favour of the former. Berita Harian had misreported the final score as 6-1 in their publication yesterday, but it could have been a slight error on their part. Syed Azmir, captain of Mediacorp Suria and last year’s Golden Boot winner, finally got his tournament going with a hat-trick scored in the space of 15 minutes in the first half. Two goals apiece by Raja Razie and Firdaus Salleh have now elevated them to three goals in the tournament, sharing the same number of goals scored as Syed Azmir and Shahrin Azhar from the Dramatis team, when he notched a hat-trick in the 3-8 defeat to Berita Harian the previous week.

Speaking of Shahrin Azhar, I hope he does not take my video highlights the wrong way. The segment where he stormed off the pitch, seemingly unhappy with the referee’s decisions and then retaliating against a rowdy spectator, could in one way, show the negative side of him. But artistes are normal human beings too. You see amateur and professional players retaliating against each other, against the referee for what they deem as biased decisions. Even professional players retaliate against the crowd when their heckling gets a bit too much. No, I do not condone Shahrin‘s retaliation towards that spectator, but I hope those who watched would understand why as a normal human being, he did what he did and would more or less sympathise. This is a charity tournament afterall, that kind of heckling by the watching spectator had no place in the stands, depicting how uncivilised some people can be, and only served to add fuel to the fire already raging inside. Thankfully common sense prevailed and nothing serious happened afterwards. My respect for Shahrin has not diminished because of this episode.

This Sunday‘s last round of qualifying matches will be an exciting affair between Berita Harian and Mediacorp Suria. That match will kick off at 3pm whilst the Dramatis and PERKAMUS teams will face off at 5pm. Goals galore is expected so head down to Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex if you have nothing on that day. In the meantime, enjoy the video highlights…

P.S. Graphics and photographs are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

Piala Dollah Kassim 2011 Qualifying Match – Mediacorp Suria vs PERKAMUS…

The tournament has finally kicked off in earnest this past Sunday afternoon at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex with the first round of matches played. The first match between Berita Harian and Dramatis was a high-scoring affair with the former coming away 8-3 winners. Though I did not watch the whole match, from what I heard, Berita Harian raced to a 6-1 lead at half-time and eased off during the second half. All three goals scored by the Dramatis team were courtesy of actor-host Shahrin Azhar, a feat not lost on Mediacorp Suria, and a player who will be given extra attention when facing the Dramatis team this coming Sunday.

The Mediacorp Suria team… 

The second match, which I was involved in, was another high-scoring affair with Mediacorp Suria and defending champions, PERKAMUS, sharing the spoils with the scoreline of 3-3. The match was end-to-end stuff with both sides not relenting. Thrice Mediacorp Suria conceded, only to pick ourselves up and grabbed equalisers for every goal PERKAMUS scored, with Raja Razie‘s free-kick goal, the pick of the six goals scored during the match. The match had its robust moments given the nature of the competitiveness between both sides. The flashpoint of the robustness being the two-footed challenge dished out in the second half by PERKAMUS‘ captain, Jeff Catz, who was promptly given his marching orders, but generally the game was played in good spirits, with no heated moments of note.

The PERKAMUS team… 

Even when I was crudely tackled by one of their strikers towards the end of the match, I felt that it was inevitable as it was a 50-50 challenge, though it has to be said the referee should have given me more protection being the goalkeeper and advantage was supposed to be on my side. The only downside is that the injury sustained to my thigh has put me in doubt to play this coming Sunday. I have been doing thirty laps in the pool religiously for the past three nights to aid my therapy, so God willing I would be fine by then. There is still some pain when I press against my thigh and the bruise marks are still there, so it’s touch and go at the moment.

Even though I said the match was played in good spirits, the ugly aspect of the tournament which I had been unhappy about since last year, reared its ugly head again. Due to confidentiality issues, I will not state what it is till a later date. I am just surprised that the defending champions this year are much different in terms of personnel, as compared to the last where they had more singers and musicians in their line-up. This year, I only recognise Jeff Catz, Iskandar R. Ismail (Eiss) and Aan from Knightwings (Anugerah Band 2008). There might be others in the team whom I do not recognise, thanks in part to my probable ignorance to the local band scene, but those three I mentioned were the standouts, other than ex-international Nasiruddin Sawardi and their team manager Art Fazil.

This Sunday, the first match at 3pm will pit Berita Harian against PERKAMUS and the latter match at 5pm between Mediacorp Suria and Dramatis. Again, all matches will be played at the Singapore Polytechnic Sports Complex. All graphics and photographs included in this entry are courtesy of Mediacorp Suria. Enjoy the highlights video of the match between Mediacorp Suria and PERKAMUS which my wife had kindly taken that day…

Official Launch of Piala Dollah Kassim 2011…

It’s back once again!!! Piala Dollah Kassim, a charity football tournament involving the local Malay media and television personalities, which was successfully held last year, makes its return again this year. Now into its fourth edition since it was first conceived and incepted in 2002, the tournament this year has broken the norm of previous years’ editions in having it a year after the last one. Previously the tournament was held once every two years, with a gap of six years between the first and the second editions. I believe due to the success and support from last year’s tournament, especially the Grand Final where two thousand-odd people witnessed it at Yishun Stadium, it is only natural that it has been changed to an annual affair. But for how long it will remain that way, it’s up to the organisers, PERKAMUS, who have worked hard to make it happen again this year. For that, they deserve every pat on the back they get.

The coveted trophy…

This year’s event is probably an emotional one for myself and of course the family of Allahyarham Uncle Dollah. Regular readers of this blog would know by now the family ties that we share as his wife and my mother are sisters. This will be the first time the event is held without him around anymore. Even when he was in a state of coma and bedridden last year, I felt his presence and spirit cheering me on from the stands when I played for the Mediacorp Suria team as its goalkeeper. There were good and bad memories from last year’s tournament, the good of course being able to play in front of a near capacity crowd and the bad, well I’ll just leave it as that, but I tend to take positives out of the few bad ones. This year, I will reprise my role as the team’s custodian once again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mediacorp Suria for placing their faith in me and it is an absolute honour to represent my family and play in the tournament again.

The launch was hosted by Rosley Jimaen and Deanna Manto

Once again the tournament will be a four-cornered fight between Berita Harian, Dramatis, Mediacorp Suria and the organisers as well as the defending champions themselves, PERKAMUS. The draw to determine the respective match fixtures was recently held at the rooftop of the Singapore Press Holdings‘ building on 25th September 2011. Representatives and several players from the respective teams graced the occasion, not forgetting the various kind sponsors of the event. This year, the beneficiary organisation who will receive the proceeds from the event will be Darul Ma’wa Children’s Home. Several side-events and carnival have been lined up during the days of the qualifying matches and these are kindly organised by the good people of Bikers’ Aid International, a professional fundraiser and charity organising management consisting of 40 motor clubs with mixed races and genders from 3000 motorcycles members here in Singapore and Malaysia.

Cikgu Yusnor Ef with the opening speech…

Though I will not delve much on what happened during the launch per se, it was heartening to hear the President of PERKAMUS, Cikgu Yusnor Ef, appealing to other organisers of football-related events not to misuse the good name of Uncle Dollah and also to seek his family’s approval before using his name for their respective events. I’m sure older readers of this blog would remember how I went on a ranting spree last year, when some irresponsible people came up with the idea of having a football academy using Uncle Dollah‘s name without seeking his family’s approval. And it was just last week that our family found out that a football competition organised in Tampines also used his name without seeking prior approval. We’re not trying to be high-handed, but I’m sure nobody likes others to use one’s own family members’ names without first seeking permission. Like what Cikgu Yusnor said, “Do not misuse his name to the point that it becomes devalued and cheap…” As a family, we do not want Uncle Dollah‘s name to be used by any organisation for their own benefits. Uncle Dollah was a generous man, any event organiser that uses his name in future should take note that any proceeds from their event, must go to a charity organisation. Over the years, the family has been working closely and have absolute trust in PERKAMUS, because they have been doing the right thing.

Uncle Dollah‘s son, Ezaad, urged all players to check their fitness and health before taking onto the pitch so as to prevent a similar occurence of what happened to Uncle Dollah back on 4th Oct 2009.

I do not know who will be playing in the other teams, other than Nick Mikhail, Izzat Yusoff, Amy Kecik, Khairudin Samsudin, Faizal Ramli amongst others, playing for the Dramatis team and Jeff Catz for PERKAMUS. But I’m quite confident that our Mediacorp Suria team, with the injection of new players from the Anugerah Skrin 2010 competition, and retaining half of those who represented the team last year, will try and give the defending champions a run for their money. This year Mediacorp Suria will be represented by renowned television personalities Rafaat Hamzah, Fauzie Laily, Syed Azmir (captain), Shahril Wahid, Effandy Idris and the Anugerah Skrin 2010 alumnus like Shahril Kahar, Aidil Jufri, Mohd Idris Jamin, Raja Razie and Muhd Dzar. We also welcome into our team the likes of actors-hosts Fadhlur Rahman and Taufiq Salleh, who represented the Dramatis team in last year’s tournament, as well as Khairul Ruzaini (the son of actor Jasmani Basri), and Razif Ariff, who are both part-time actors themselves. In short, this tournament is sprinkling with stars all in the name of charity.

The fixture list…

All qualifying matches will be played at the Singapore Polytechnic stadium on three consecutive Sundays, beginning 9th October 2011. The first match will kick off at 3pm with Berita Harian facing off with the Dramatis team. Mediacorp Suria will play against PERKAMUS at 5pm. The 3rd and 4th placing match as well as the Grand Finals will be held on 20th November 2011 at the Woodlands Stadium. Admission to all the matches is free. So if you do not have anything to do for the next three Sundays, do come down and support your local personalities and also help to do your part for charity. See you there!!!

May the best team wins!!!

From left: Jeff Catz (PERKAMUS), Syed Azmir (Mediacorp Suria), Art Fazil (PERKAMUS), Jasmi Ahmad (Dramatis) and Farid Hamzah (Berita Harian)…

How to get there… (Click on the map to enlarge it)

Goodbye “Mama”…

(Photo courtesy of Channel News Asia)

I dunno how to start off this entry in the first place, even though I had this planned for quite some time. No, I was not expecting Uncle Dollah (or “Mama” as we, his nephews and nieces affectionately called him) to leave us all so soon back then, but I had an inkling on what to say as a posthumous tribute to him if the dreaded time for us to part forever were to come. But came it did in the early morning of 14 October 2010, at a time when we, his family, did not expect. Certainly not, when he did not show any signs that his last days were near, as most people who have preceded us would normally project. So it was with complete shock that I woke up yesterday morning to incessant calls by my cousin Ezaad, informing me of the passing of his beloved father.

Mama Dollah was a fighter on the football pitch and a fighter off it. The 375 days of survival from his heart attack which rendered him almost invalid (he was brain dead, but his vital organs were functioning well), was testament to his strong willpower to remain alive, especially so with the hopes and prayers of the whole nation behind him, since that fateful 4th October 2009. Everywhere I went, people never failed to stop asking me about his condition and how he was getting on. I wished I had been able to share better news other than “he’s still in a coma…“, but Almighty Allah knew better than most of us. He left us all to return to the Almighty at around 6am yesterday in the most peaceful way possible in his deep slumber, something that we as a family are at peace at in the knowledge of.

My memories of Mama have always been of happier occasions. He was very generous with his nephews and nieces, always treating us to outings and food. He was always there to lend a listening ear to when we had problems in life / growing up. He was instrumental in letting me into the now-defunct National Stadium to watch our national team play during the good old days of the Malaysia Cup. He was there to comfort me when I ran away from home twice during my teenage years. He was there when I had BGR problems and soaked in the flak I received from my own parents for not concentrating on my studies instead. He was even there to coach me before I went for football trials to represent my secondary school team.

Bearing in mind all his good deeds and playing in honour of his memory, it took me no second invitation to play in the recent Piala Dollah Kassim tournament back in June & July 2010. I know I still owe the readers of my blog an entry about it, but I guess this paragraph and the next would more than make up for it as I doubt I would do it at all, upon hindsight. For those who cared to listen when I was whining about it back then like a broken record on Twitter and Facebook, yes I had grievances towards the organisers and winners of the tournament (PERKAMUS) for apparently using local league standard players in their team, as well as introducing disciplinary rules that perhaps contravened with FIFA standards, which personally I felt undermined the spirit of the competition, that was, to have fun. To be fair to the organisers, I believe they were not the only ones who bent the rules. I’ll leave it to that without going into specific details as the tournament is already long over.

The Mediacorp Suria team which had local entertainment personalities such as Rafaat Hamzah, Fauzie Laily, Shahril Wahid, Syed Azmir, Sahfudin Mahfudz and Faliq (former member of Verbalise Flo) in its ranks…

Other than those personal grievances that I had mentioned earlier, I only have kind words for PERKAMUS and cannot thank them enough in organising a tournament in honour of Mama ever since 2002. Representing the Mediacorp Suria team and playing in the Final with 2000-odd fans cheering us on at the Yishun Stadium, was a memory to savour for amateur players like us who could only dream of playing at stadiums with a sell-out crowd. Personally I felt Mama Dollah was in the stands cheering this nephew of his on and would be proud that even in defeat, we battled on from being two goals down and equalising before succumbing with five minutes left on the clock. The next tournament will definitely be an emotional affair, not only for me, but my family members who would be attending and supporting the event. PERKAMUS has always been actively involved in raising funds for Mama Dollah since the heart attack incident last year, and I hope they would continue to organise the tournament yearly, and not bi-annually, in memory of the great man.

Anyone and everyone who has rubbed shoulders with Mama Dollah before, would never say a bad word about him. His humility, jovial and down-to-earth character endeared him to everyone, even strangers. Even when he was humiliated by some ushers during the official closing ceremony of the National Stadium back in 2007, he chose not to argue, shrugged and told his family to go home. Till today, whoever those ushers are, I hope they would have every ounce of guilt in them for displaying a lack of grace, class and professionalism in disrespecting a national icon. Now that he is gone, I hope they finally know who he is and the joy he used to give to thousands of people in the past, just by watching him play on the hallowed grounds of the National Stadium, which is currently being demolished. What a coincidence then, that the timing of the Grand Old Dame‘s demolition coincided with the passing of one of its greatest entertainers on it.

(Photo courtesy of Hardwarezone Forums)

It was an extremely pleasant surprise to see so many people turned up in droves to visit him yesterday, be it at his home, the Sultan Mosque where the prayers were held and also at the burial grounds of Pusara Abadi. There were about 400-odd people at the mosque itself and it certainly felt like a Friday prayer session. The number of people who turned up and the lavish amount of donations they gave to Mama‘s family showed how much Mama had touched their lives, how much joy he brought to them as a friend and the kind brother he was to so many people, an absolute true measure of the man, who in the words of his close friends in the tribute videos on the primetime news on television,  “A Man Who Can Never Truly Be Replaced…“.

He was the rock who held his family together, the one who have always held the fort, and even when he was fighting for his life, he bonded the family together, and I must say the whole family’s been an even tighter unit than before, not that we weren’t in the first place. Tears were generally shed free-flowingly by everyone during the final farewell before the cortege left the home. My cousins Ezaad, Yousoff , Julie and Jid, my sisters Farah and Nurul, even myself, who had remained stoic and composed throughout the event, could not contained ourselves, no matter how much we fought back the tears since morning. Mama brought so much love, care, patience, tolerance and understanding into our family and it is this legacy of his that we intend to continue in bringing up our families in time to come.

(Photo courtesy of bro Amrin Ismail. Thank you for your short tribute in your Facebook bro…)

On behalf of Ezaad and my whole family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, online mates via Twitter & Facebook, strangers, current and former Members of Parliament, current and former national players, those in the local entertainment and football fraternities, for taking the time to visit Mama since his unfortunate incident and during the funeral itself, for the kind words of encouragement, moral support and generous donations rendered. To the Football Association of Singapore, PERKAMUS, Polar Puffs & Cakes Pte Ltd and Singapore Pools Pte Ltd, thank you for your never-ending support in cash and kind. A huge thanks goes out to the good doctors, nurses, neuro-surgeons & specialists who had looked after him throughout his stay at Tan Tock Seng Hospital as well as for making their weekly visits to check if things were ok.

Thank you also to the local media – Mediacorp Suria, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times, The New Paper, Berita Harian, My Paper, Razor TV, Sungguh.com, RIA 89.7FM for your kind coverage and tribute to Mama Dollah all these while and in time to come. Special mention goes out to Warna 94.2FM whom we heard from well-wishers played the song “Dollah Kassim” on its airwaves no less than four times within the space of an hour yesterday!!! Words of thanks and gratitude are not enough to express ourselves to everyone, but we are heartened to know that Mama Dollah will always have a place in the history and annals of this nation, as well as remain in the hearts of those who once got to know the man known as “Gelek King / Raja Gelek“…

(Video courtesy of Mohamed Ezaad Bin Abdullah)