Happy 2nd Birthday Syadiyah Asyura Darling!!!

I seldom talk about my family, especially my two princesses in my blog, unlike most bloggers I observe. Not that I’m not proud of them. I really do, especially when I see their antics, how they progress and how they grow in front of my eyes. Contrary to popular beliefs, I’m actually quite the private person and I would also like my children to stay away from the limelight as much as possible. The photo of them that greets you every time you enter this blog is my way of showing how much I love and adore them. To say that they are the symbols of my pride is an understatement. They’re more than that. Being the protective father, I guess I’m just doing my part to shield them from the outside world.

However, once in a blue moon, I would break away from my apparent “uptight rein” and accord them their rightful mention in this blog and today 1st April 2010 marks a special day for my second daughter Syadiyah Asyura. It might be April Fools Day to many, but to us, we have been honouring this day since 2008 as she celebrates her birthday, and today she turns two. Time sure flies in the blink of an eye. But I’ve never felt the two years have been a waste of time seeing her grow into the cheeky girl that she is and joker of the two apples of my eyes. Between the two, she is closer to me though it has to be said I love both with equal measure. Little wonder, cos she knows how to soften and pacify my heart when I’m angry with them.

Happy 2nd Birthday sweetheart…  May Almighty Allah continue to bless you with good health, knowledge and intelligence, as well as being our source of humour and focal point of entertainment when we feel down or tired. May you grow up also to be a good, if not better, Muslimah and SolehahAyah, Ibu & Kakak will always love, cherish and treasure you with all our hearts…

Please Support Project V.O.A.!!!

This noble project is in support of the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and your humble presence is needed in giving hope to the less fortunate in the strickened country. Also, your support towards our less-than-glamourous, but nonetheless, artistes of decent calibre, would go a long way in bringing up our industry to the next level. They need a platform to showcase their talents. The platform is already given. It’s up to you now to show your support for the cause and to the artistes involved…

Anugerah Skrin Auditions…

Yesterday was the first day of Anugerah Skrin 2010 auditions held at Caldecott Broadcast Centre. It was a totally different experience personally for me after covering last year’s Anugerah auditions held at East Point Mall. For one, it felt more personal and most importantly I did not feel as stuffy having to mingle with the crowd as there wasn’t any supporters allowed to cheer the contestants on. This approach was very much deliberate, as it would give the contestants the perfect atmosphere to switch off from their surroundings and concentrate on the random scripts given for them to act out in front of the judging panel.

As opposed to my counterpart, Iskandar, who came early in the morning to cover the event, I only arrived at about 2:45pm, just in time to see the batch that had queued up since noon to go in for their auditions. It had rained since morning and when I arrived, it was still drizzling, but certainly the weather did not dampen the hopes and expectations of the hundreds who came. From that batch that had gone in when I came, I noticed there were a few familiar faces that had come to previous auditions, be it Anugerah or Anugerah Skrin, some as far back as 2001. I admire their passion, perseverance and resolve in trying their luck again and again to get noticed as a new face on television. 

Noor Liyana was a Top 10 finalist in the previous Anugerah Skrin competition. Her experience certainly helped her in getting a pass to the next round.

For those who got through the first round, good for them, as it showed that the gap in between previous years’ auditions and the current one had made them learn what is to be expected and that they have improved on their shortcomings. But it is also not a guarantee that they would ace through subsequent rounds of auditions and when they get into the competition proper. For those who still did not get past the first round after years of trying, I wonder if a bit of self-reflection and realism would kick in and that they are better off doing something worthwhile other than harbouring dreams of being a television star. Sometimes the grass is greener elsewhere or the fact that it is written that their destiny is not in this line.

Mr Hamed Ismail, Khairudin Samsudin and Mdm Neng Hayati were the judges in Room 1…

I’m not trying to be the spoilsport and wet blanket here cos I used to share the same dreams as them when I was younger. Though it is good to have confidence in one’s abilities, I believe only through observing and learning how the industry is like, how it works, experiencing continuous rejections and looking at one’s own reflection in the mirror would reality sink in, no matter how much it bites. I’m not a looker to begin with, nor have the patience to wait on others, which are part of what this industry is about. That is why I stressed upon the importance of doing their homework before coming to the auditions two entries ago. For the record, I’ve never gone to any auditions before to test my abilities, so sour grapes and cynics wanting to sharpen their knives to get back at me should know that I’ve done my self-reflection even before I jumped the gun.

Whereas Alfiah Abros Meah, Aryati Tyeb Papar & Johari Abdul Aziz were the judges in Room 2…

Speaking of that entry, I pointed out that “… too many people come for auditions unprepared, wearing indecent and improper clothes, having unkempt hair, wearing sandals and flip-flops and worse still, they looked as though they just woke up from the bed!!!” I still saw these things being replicated at the auditions. Those I observed being rejected were mostly stammering or uncomfortable speaking in the language, when their identity cards clearly state which race they belong to. If the very basics like linguistics and communication skills are too difficult an obstacle to clear, then how do you expect to memorise scripts and getting the feel of your characters once the camera starts to roll??? You have to be comfortable speaking in your own mother tongue.

This sibling pair experienced mixed emotions when the elder sister got through but the younger brother did not…

Then there are those who were still not dressed appropriately. Ladies, if you are blessed with ample bosoms, you don’t have to wear cleavage-bearing outfits screaming for them to be spilled out. If you wear tight-fitting pants, make sure you’re covered strategically so that we’re not treated to seeing “camel toes” or the shape of your butts. For the plus-sized, though I respect the confidence you have to wear what you wore yesterday, please in future do not wear “sarung nangka” outfits cos they are sore to the eyes and magnify your unsightly flabs two to three-fold. To the guys, I know K-Pop is in, but you don’t have to colour your hair, make them unkempt or wear caps which multiply the “Mat” factor in you especially when you wear tappered jeans. There is a way of making your hairstyle and fashion sense presentable. I don’t have to list each and every single thing out here cos you’re supposed to do your respective homework. Remember that first impressions count.

Congratulations to those who had gotten the all-important pass to the next round and work on your flaws which the judges had pointed out during the auditions. Their tips and useful advice will go a long way to shape your subsequent performances so please heed them. The same goes to those who have failed to make the cut. Use them to better yourselves for future auditions…

Critical Thoughts Of My Own…

I’ve resisted typing this entry ever since I saw the various unhappy tweets from those who had attended the recording of the above-mentioned programme at Caldecott Broadcast Centre on 6th February 2010, a day after the Suria Elektra event. That particular weekend the guest panelists on the show included Anang Hermansyah and Edry, one third of the KRU brothers from across the Causeway alongside Kak Hanim (Mohd Salleh), Berita Harian‘s Entertainment Correspondent, no stranger to the local Malay entertainment industry, who was the resident judge throughout the recording of the Popagenda series. Why I decided to finally type this entry was because I felt the need to voice out on several issues I have been observing but keeping mum and reading a comment that appeared in Berita Minggu today, which I have scanned for your reading pleasure:

For the uninitiated, Popagenda, which is the brainchild of DuaM Productions, whose head honcho is also the host of the show, Najip Ali, is a new variety programme, that has been airing on Suria for the past month or so. In each episode, two local singers, and an established guest artiste would showcase their talents to the guest panelists who are industry people experienced enough to know what they are talking about. The singers would sing songs of their own / their own choices if they have yet to record a single, sing a song belonging to the established guest artiste for that particular episode and answer questions put forward by Kak Hanim, as a test to their media-savvy skills. If you had caught the first few episodes, you would have noticed that the panel of assessors are no slouches when it comes to making good, quality and award-winning music. Ajai, who is no stranger here and Yuvie, one half of Indonesian duo Yuvie & Nuno had been the judges in the earlier episodes.

I did not attend the recordings but from what I heard, there were a lot of unhappy voices from the audience who were shocked and taken aback by what Edry had commented on some, if not most of the contestants. Not meaning to defend this old friend of mine, but he has always been someone who is not afraid to speak his mind and calling a spade, a spade. Even when I first got to know him some fifteen years ago, I was initially left stunned when I heard his less than flattering comments towards some people, that I myself got kinda turned off at the very first impression. But after knowing and hanging out with him, I believe it’s his hard-driven nature and unsatiable hunger for success that has made him into the millionaire that he is now along with his two siblings. Brutal in his honesty, genuine in his approach and achieving success in what he does for a living are traits, I believe, and ample reasons why the good people at DuaM chose him as one of the guest panelists.

Granted KRU might not have been great live performers during their heydays and I think they know that themselves, nor have they produced artistes of legendary calibre under KRU Music Group but artistes like Indigo, X-Factor, Phyne Ballerz, Elite, Ezlynn, Juliana Banos, Adam and indirectly Feminin, can be considered relative successes being newbies in the industry in the past, even though cynics would gleefully point out that they rely more on their looks than talents. Still not convinced??? Anita Sarawak, Rabbani, Ella, Mawi and many other established artistes have also entrusted him to help produce some of their hit singles / albums. Their company’s stock grew even more when they branched out into making movies and tapping on the usage of modern technology into their films where most Malaysian film directors and producers have yet to jump on the bandwagon, perhaps due to budget constraints.

Of late, one of their latest films, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, have gained international recognition when it was picked for distribution in 25 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and the Middle East after it was exhibited at the recently-concluded European Film Market in Berlin. They have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Universal Studios in Hollywood, for distribution rights in North America once filming is completed. And that could only mean more dough coming into their coffers. He might have been a failure in the past to get into the hearts of Indonesian fans, but I’m sure the group had been one of the phenomenons of the 90s in Malaysia and over here. But again as I’ve said earlier, this entry is not about defending Edry. Neither is it to hype about his achievements to make him look good. Nor is it to extol his comments as examples to follow.

Instead I would like us all to ponder upon every comment that was made in the previous few episodes shown and also those that have yet to be televised, by each one of the guest panelists. We definitely want our local Malay music industry to thrive once again like two to three decades ago. And the only way for it to go up is for experienced and knowledgeable hands to give us a dose of reality check so that we can better ourselves and be well prepared. Singing is not just about holding the microphone to your mouths and being able to carry a tune. Anyone could do that, even myself. Nor adding dancesteps and groovy moves to your repertoire will make you an outstanding performer. A performer’s standing should be of some style and substance so that those who watch, will appreciate even if they are not loyal fans or supporters. Off-stage, the ability to carry one’s self in public positively, the presence of mind to answer (or evade tactfully) questions and being media-savvy (minus the controversies), will definitely put one in good stead.

Too many acts have been one or two-hit wonders. Just look at Anugerah Planet Muzik since its inception and you will begin to wonder what has happened to so-and-so, not only in our local industry but also in Malaysia and Indonesia as well. Not many have survived so long till this day especially our local acts. It is sad to see the likes of Bhumiband, Kaleidoscopicuriosity, Karim Supnan and many more, not maintaining  their longevity in the scene as they are all worthy acts. To attain longevity in the scene, one needs to have a certain amount of passion, originality and humility. Popagenda is definitely a positive step in that direction to see whether our budding acts are ready to take the next step to spread their wings and share their talents with the region. The sensitive ones would say the guest panelists were being too critical and uncouth, while the cynical ones would say that Popagenda only brought out the worse in our pool of local artistes, but this is where they learn to improve and work on their flaws.

As was pointed out by the comment in Berita Minggu about Sarah Aqilah, we all know what a great singer she is and witnessed her grow from strength to strength in the weekly Anugerah 2009 series. However that was in the past. The episode of Popagenda which she was featured in and could be classified as being in the current context, did not paint a true picture of what we know she is definitely capable of. If you had studied her body language, her somehow troubled facial expressions and slightly apparent lack of confidence during her performances in that particular episode, they were not good advertisements of her true abilities to the panelists, who I believe are also on the lookout to help market our local acts in their countries or at least collaborate with them for future projects. She also seemed unsure of answering the question directed to her during the question-and-answer segment with the media, which prompted Kak Hanim to lament that both she and Faizal Isa had blindly answered them.

Even though Anang had performed with her the day before at Suria Elektra, Edry was seeing her for the first time and we all have heard of the old adage “First impressions count” once too often. Granted I have to admit he was perhaps a little overboard and kinda exaggerated when he questioned how did she become champion, but I cannot fault Edry for directing it to the fans who voted and judges for giving a false sense of hope to someone who is yet ready to cross the Causeway. You have to recall how a certain judge during the Anugerah 2009 series kept on putting her on the pedestal and saying how she was ready to be a superstar and all, but the truths were laid bare during the show, simply because she did not perform to expectations and did not give the impression she was ready. As such you cannot blame Edry as what he commented was based on what he witnessed. To be fair, he did pass on useful advice that she could still make it abroad, provided she reinvents herself and create an identity of her own. So I hope people would look at it in one big perspective and not take things out of context and do selective hearing as we are all so fond of doing. There was certainly no hidden agenda nor hatred towards Sarah. She can only get better after this and I know she can.

I hope whatever negative comments that were passed throughout the series by any of the guest panelists would not be taken to heart nor make our artistes lose faith in their own abilities. Neither should they take these comments for granted and hope that their loyal fans’ support would be enough to see them through their respective careers. There is so much a fan’s support can do, but if there is no substance, then the non-fans would also not be convinced that you deserve to be respected and that you’re living in your own deluded world. If you take it in the local context, as of right now, the fan support is simply not enough, likewise the number of shows they can be involved in unless they sing at clubs for a living. If it is enough, our artistes wouldn’t harbour any thoughts of seeking greener pastures nor wanting to gain experiences elsewhere. No matter how good and successful you are over here, you might not get the same amount of success elsewhere and vice-versa. It has been proven without having the need to drop any names. Before taking the leap and plunge, please equip yourselves with the basic know-hows on what it takes to be a performer that people in the region could sit up and take notice of.

Learn also to accept criticisms – positive, negative, brutal and harsh and use them to better yourselves. The most amusing part to all these hoo-ha is the fact that the artistes themselves haven’t made much noise about nor complained about it (at least not in the open…), but the fans have been quick to go all defensive and downright sensitive. I had wondered for quite some time if we are ready for a show like Melodi or Terjah but after reading the fans’ comments, I don’t think we are, not even close to a million miles yet. We are so used to hearing all the nice and sugary stuff that sometimes it has made us all become too complacent and happy with what we have in our hands. A little pinch on the bums can result in controversy of epic proportions and or make our worlds come crashing down. Wake-up calls like Popagenda is a good gauge to see how ready we are for edgy shows and the fans are sad to say, clearly not. Yes the fans here have the major say here, but what about fans over there when the time comes to cross over??? I’m sure the mentalities are much different and their acceptance will not be so accomodating unless you are original.

This episode brings me back to the time when Rafaat Hamzah was sensationally slated and slammed left, right and centre in the papers for being too critical and harsh towards the contestants when the inaugural Anugerah Skrin competition was going on four years ago, him being one of the two mainstay judges, the other being Najip Ali himself. Even when we have someone experienced, a local, who knew what he was talking about and dishing it out in his own way, the public jumped and bayed for his blood. Some even went as far as to ask the organisers to remove him from the judging panel. And I remembered on the subsequent episode henceforth, he protested by simply refusing to open his mouth or comment much. Four years on and I expected our mentality to have made some progress but apparently it has not.

We should all be thankful that the mainstream media here for all their misgivings and sometimes lack of support for local talents (I say this because I seldom see them unless it’s for big / grand occasions, which is why alternative media like us bloggers have come to the fore. But to be fair, Kak Hanim does go to most of them…), are not as brutal as those in Malaysia and Indonesia. If comments like Edry‘s or Anang‘s can be considered too harsh for us, then I’m afraid our artistes will be slaughtered and annihilated by the various media sources once they take the bold step to venture abroad and these people are not forgiving at all. Our Asian Idol himself has experienced that before, even though we understand how guarded he is with personal questions, but it was misconstrued by the media there as him being aloof. We all know the kind of questions that the media abroad are capable of asking, and just by watching Melodi and Terjah on TV3, sometimes we even feel as though we want to bash up the journalists ourselves for being incredibly insensitive with the angles they’ve chose to concentrate upon.

But the mainstream media here could also do their part in getting to know our local acts better, reporting more on them, doing respective homeworks before sharing it with the masses, attending more indie events and not wait to be invited just because they are already established. I was particularly miffed when a part-time journalist wondered what happened to Aliff Aziz and why is he so quiet of late, ever since news of his controversy last year came to light. This person also lamented that Aliff has his mood swings and one day would greet and another day would not. I ask myself, whether this person really made the effort to get to know the guy personally or not, to pass off negative comments like that. For one, this person does not even know that he is now serving his National Service. Secondly, to say it out on a national medium on his character is akin to slender. As mainstream media, I’m sure they know that the masses would read, hear and believe what was being said since they are either published, aired or televised.

For the record, I’m not close to Aliff nor his family, but this young man would stop whatever he is doing and come over to greet me personally if he sees me from afar as my past experiences can vouch for. And I’m not even a journalist nor part of mainstream media to be accorded such respect to begin with!!! What does that tell you??? Aliff being someone who meets a lot of people and fans cannot be expected to remember each and every single person he meets. Likewise this fact goes with all artistes and normal people like us. If I’m being equally anal, I could also say that there is a certain artiste who greets me only when I’m in the presence and company of people in the industry and hype about it. But have I done that before this??? No, in fact I would still give this artiste the benefit of doubt that I am just a nobody and of course could be forgiven for not knowing who I am, even if we had been formally introduced before. It is time we start getting to know our local acts better and minimise reporting on artistes abroad or spreading gossips through hearsay. It doesn’t lend credibility to one’s worth, efforts and professionalism as an entertainment journalist.

Most importantly the genuine intentions of artistes in general coupled with sincerity and passion for your craft should shine through without the need to try too hard to win over fans and people from the industry. You need to question yourself why do you want to become an artiste, a performer, an entertainer or a singer??? Do you want to be one in the hope of being popular??? Or because your goal is to achieve awards and appear on red carpets on an annual basis??? Or you take great joy in fans clamouring at your feet??? Or do you just want your music to be heard and appreciated and if good things come your way, then all the better??? There is an art to charming the listeners and audience who are your consumers, and this does not include giving away personal achievements nor gifts at almost every available opportunity. You can do it once or twice, but if it gets done once too often, people might question whether you are sincere or if it’s part of your gimmick / showmanship to woo the neutral fans over.

As I had mentioned before in my “Be True To Yourselves” entry last July, always be thankful that you have a core group of supporters willing you on at every single show or appearance you perform or make, who would defend you at every single opportunity when the chips are down and look beyond your flaws no matter how glaring they are. These are the same people who will never tire of supporting, scrimping their weekly pocket money just to travel to the places you’re performing at or buying gifts for you, and taking photographs with you. At almost every show or concert I go to, I will practically see the same faces over and over again. Not that it is a bad thing, far from it, but these are the very people who deserve pats on their backs for their endless and undying support, and I take my hats off to them for being so loyal, come rain or shine. We definitely do not get this kind of rousing support  before Singapore Idol was conceived.

Never ever complain about taking photographs or receiving gifts from the same person over and over again. Unless you are genuinely sincere nor understand the essence and meaning of being an artiste, you will never know nor understand the feeling of making someone happy just by obliging with a photograph and smiling with a lot of warmth as a form of appreciation, which in turn would make the fans go home happy and being able to sleep soundly, heartened by the fact that every dollar spent on travelling, buying tickets to watch you, buy you gifts etc were all worth it. I was once a groupie and part of the fan brigade. As such, I totally understand what it means to feel appreciated by the artiste I adore because I know how it feels to be a loyal fan. Again and again I say, why Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza is where she is now, is because she is sincere and appreciative towards all her fans. I repeat the sentence I made in that entry: “The day the genuine and loyal fans ditch their favourite artistes, would be the saddest day of their lives cos their worth has just become less…

This small industry of ours is very small, still in its infantile stages. You can’t expect people to start liking and supporting with every performance you make. Like trust and respect, it grows over time. Whoever that supports you there and then, treat them with the same amount of respect and love that they have accorded you. Never question sensitive things like whether they only come to support you if it’s a free show, and not otherwise. It is already so difficult for artistes here to gain the support of the masses. One of the challenges being faced is to go beyond the loyal and core group of supporters and attracting the new / neutral ones who are still sceptical of the scene or more inclined to listen to K-Pop, which seems to be the in-thing these days or Western music. Whoever you have now as your fans, please appreciate and treat them kindly. Always remember that without them: YOU ARE NOTHING!!!  

Happy 61st Mama!!!

It’s been more than five months that you’ve been in a coma and till today, we’ve not lost any hope nor given up on seeing you up and about like before. Today is a very special day in your life. But it would be even more special if you could wake up from your deep slumber and see your second grandson for the first time. We miss your warmth, we miss your jokes, but above all else, we miss you.

On your 61st birthday, I pray that Allah will bestow upon you the extra strength to open your eyes and see us all again. You are and will always be our inspiration, our guide and our shining light when it comes to fighting the odds and overcoming obstacles in life. You have beaten the odds in surviving the worst, your willpower even in your state of unconsciousness is an admirable example. Happy Birthday Mama!!! I’ll see you later today… 🙂

Festival Melayu Ada Celebrates Its First Anniversary…

Long-time readers of this domain would note the fact that I have been an ardent and loyal supporter of the Festival Melayu Ada (FMA) event when it was first conceived and had its successful run circa MarchMay 2009. Celebrating its first anniversary, the good people at Cokelat Events & Production have decided to resurrect the event in tribute to Hajjah Esah Cafe. The kind people of the cafe had been a strong advocate and supporter of the FMA series, allowing the artistes to use their outdoor premises for the shows to be realised. Now that the cafe is about to close down, the event not only will celebrate its first year of existence but also as a form of gratitude to the cafe.

Looking at the line-up of artistes on the poster, I see familiar names and regulars of past FMA events like my distant cousin Ard (Adha), Zaibaktian, Boy Raven, NSA (No Strings Attached), Tengku Nurlela, DianaSamsuri, Elmi Zulkarnain, Shafyre, Rafaat Haji Hamzah and Nizamulmuluk. One year on, they’ve added new acts to the list like AqmalDiorama and Kraton who are all nominated at the upcoming anugeraHitz.sg event. A pity though that I am unable to attend the event as I have prior engagements with the family. But I do hope that you guys would set your Saturday, and if possible Sunday as well, aside to support this event as the acts on show are of decent quality… 

Best of all, the whole event is FREE!!!

RIA Big Bash Flashback…

2010 seems like a special year for our local Malay entertainment industry thus far. Mediacorp Suria turned ten years old late January. By mid 2010, we will be seeing new faces who would be gracing our television screens in the near future when the second edition of Anugerah Skrin comes along. Last Saturday 27th February 2010 at the Canning Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre, for those who attended, we witnessed the launch of the Malay Artistes Association to look after the welfare of Malay artistes and industry movers in this country. And for the first time, 2010 will see our first local Malay music awards presentation show on 3rd April 2010. Landmark events all around, which also includes the twentieth anniversary of the existence of RIA 89.7FM.

Over the past two decades, RIA 89.7FM has evolved from a station that inspires its listeners through its tagline “Radio Inspirasi Anda” to a station that plays music according to the current generation’s trend (“Tren Generasi Terkini“). There was a time when Dangdut was the in thing and boybands were the craze. RIA certainly lived up to their tag by playing songs from these genres / eras. Its tagline has since been updated to “Tren Muzik Terkini“, in line with its role in playing the latest hits. RIA has also inadvertantly taken up the role of a station that promotes our local acts through the constant airing of their new singles upon their release. Of late, their weekly RIA Chartz, which reflects the weekly Top 20 requested songs in the station, has shown a healthy number of local songs in it. As recently as the previous weekend before last ending 28th February 2010, of the Top 5 songs on the charts, the top three belonged to local acts with Hady Mirza‘s “Angkasa” at the pinnacle. This past weekend he topped the charts again for a thirteenth straight week!!!

With the rise in number of local acts making their marks in our local Malay music industry, it was no surprise that RIA marked their first outdoor event for 2010 called “RIA Big Bash“, to celebrate their twenty years of existence, with an all-local line-up. I’ve been to countless shows organised by them and have also performed on a number of occasions after winning the Impersonation Category at Kriatif RIA 1997, one of their many organised talent competitions. I must say the response in attendance has always been resounding. But what I felt was something special for “Big Bash“, an A-classed event by their standards, was the fact that they did not feel the need to invite artistes from across the Causeway to grace the occasion. It definitely was a statement of intent for them to show how far our local acts have progressed over the years and that the audience would come and give their support. It also helped that we had Hady Mirza and Taufik Batisah performing that night, sure bets for bums on seats, as the main attractions. Though I knew all along it was deliberate, but if it ever was a gamble to have an all-local line-up, it certainly paid off as the event was a sell-out.

Besides the local acts  and the twentieth anniversary of the station being the draws of this event, the night also saw the announcement of the Top 20 songs over the past two decades aired by the station. Since the end of December 2009, listeners were invited to cast their votes on which songs have been their favourite ones since RIA was incepted on 1st December 1990. They were given a list of 100 songs to choose from. How the 100 songs made the list can only be answered by the good people working in the station. But I was quite surprised that songs like KRU‘s “Awas” and “Ooh La La” did not make it to the list, monster hits back in 1995 and 1996 that defined the group, but “Di Dalam Dilema” (the list reflected the song as just “Dilema“) did. There were also other absentees which I thought deserved to be on the Top 100 list to choose from, but I guess they already have their hands full coming up with one and try to include songs from different artistes as much as possible. I think if I had come up with the list, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza would have at least ten of her past hits on it.

This entry though it will be quite lengthy with photographs that I have taken that night, I will just comment or caption as I go along. For the record, “RIA Big Bash” was held at Republic Polytechnic‘s The Republic Cultural Centre on 21st February 2010 at 8.00pm (the show actually started approximately 8.20pm). It was brought to us by main sponsors Breeks Cafe and Seoul Garden Restaurant. The event was also in support of  Tabung Amal Aidilfitri charity fund.

This percussions group call themselves “Sambateria” and they opened the show with their rousing performance which made us all want to get up and dance along with them…

There was something distinctly fresh about how dikir barat group Si Anak Seni performed that night right after Sambateria. They ditched their traditional outfits and broke away from the norms of what you would expect from a normal dikir barat performance by taking up the different musical instruments and playing to a song honouring RIA 89.7FM, its segments and presenters, which they specially composed for the bash. A pity that the sound system did not fully give them a good account of themselves. I was straining my ears trying to figure out what they were singing.

The hosts that night and the previous morning show hosts on RIA, Aura Shai and Hafeez Glamour. Their antics certainly entertained the audience and gave each performance a smooth transition between one another.

This three-piece band, The Lion Story, is famous for the catchy ditty “Kucing Kemari” which they performed that night, along with another single. They remind me a lot of those bands from school gigs, clean cut and definitely with loads of potential.

Ever the charmer, Didicazli serenaded Ms Zakiah Halim to Jamal Abdillah‘s 1991 hit “Kekasih Awal Dan Akhir“, which came in 17th on the Top 20 list of popular songs on RIA over the past two decades. He dedicated the song as his way of saying thank you to her and the station for believing in his music when he first started off as a singer.

He then followed up his performance by singing his latest hit single “Takkan Kembali“…

S.K. (Suriani Kassim) and T.G. (Tahar Ghalib), two very popular radio presenters previously on RIA‘s roster and now at Warna 94.2FM, rolled back the years when they performed the classic hit “Dua Insan” made famous by first M. Nasir & Yunizar Hussein, and then Ezad from Exists & Iva Virginia. It was heartening to see S.K. in the pink of health after what she went through some time ago. Coupled with the fact that their performance was backed up with still footages of previous RIA events over the past twenty years, I felt a lump in my throat, getting nostalgic watching and reminiscing them. I was also momentarily stunned when I saw a photo of myself featured during the Tingkap Tingkap 897 event in 1997 a few months after my group’s win at Kriatif RIA and we were invited to perform.

Zaibaktian always gets a resounding reception  from the audience whenever he comes on stage. A very warm and likeable character, he performed his two hits “Dunia Yang Fana” and “Ejen Cinta” that night…

I think it is fair to say that the only female artiste on show that night, Nana, blew the whole auditorium away with her two songs. Rather than singing her hit “Lafaz“, she sang two songs that made it into the Top 20 hits of the past two decades, Misha Omar‘s “Bunga-Bunga Cinta” and Aishah‘s “Janji Manismu“. My hairs stood on end listening to her. Somebody of her calibre should be creating storms and causing ripples in our local music industry and I hope she gets all the support she needs. I for one thought that she should have been one of the longer standing performers in Singapore Idol Season 1 alongside Jeassea Thyidor.

The night not only saw performances by local acts, even the RIA presenters had something up their sleeves for the audience. Of late DJ KC has been practising street magic skills, of which he has incorporated into his weekend hosting events for weddings and functions alike. Though not many knew of this new-found interest and skill of his, that night, he showed his abilities to the audience alongside RIA‘s Programme Director, Mr. Hassan Salleh. Generally everyone was impressed. Just that I felt that it was a bit too draggy as they invited some of the audience to participate in the segment. It was a Sunday afterall and a lot of people had to work the following day.

From the amateurs, the centrestage then belonged to the professional, none other than Imran of Illusi fame. He wowed the audience with a few tricks like making himself disappear on stage and in his place was Fiza O, before reappearing at the back of the auditorium. He also made Nity Baizura and Aura Shai appear on stage. God knows how he did those tricks. However, certain sections of the audience especially those at opposite ends, saw through him. He has to make sure that in future, his surroundings are well covered and that no one should be able to detect his flaws.

Proceedings were then halted for awhile as RIA‘s presenters, current and former, came on stage to cut its twentienth anniversary cake. It was heartwarming to see some of the former presenters being invited and able to attend the event. Azmi Sempoi who was based in Kuala Lumpur, made the effort to come all the way down just to see his former colleagues. Some of them like Fiza O and Azlin Ali, were overcome with emotions upon seeing him. He is now based in India on a business venture.

Boy Raven who was supposed to perform alongside Man Toyak, ended up performing alone. He is seen here singing his current hit on radio “Kesuma Jiwa“.

Boy‘s second set came with a surprise. He sang “Mentera Semerah Padi“, which came in ninth on the Top 20 list of songs over the past twenty years on RIA, alongside Didicazli and Zaibaktian, to the cheers of the audience.

Kraton was up next. This RIA Band Remix champion in 2008 received mix reviews from many quarters. While most people did not like their rendition of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s “Cindai“, me included, I felt that overall, they were a breath of fresh air with their elaborate costume and unorthodox showmanship. The male singer, Jufri, pranced around and kept jumping up and down the stage. Fortunately there were no pregnant ladies seated at the front row, lest they would have gotten unwanted shocks and trauma, especially since he was wearing a special kind of contact lens that made him look scarier. He certainly performed like a man possessed that night. I for one love their hit single “Fanaq” as it reminds me a lot of “Puspasari Penawar Puteri“, made famous by the now-defunct Malaysian rock group Metalasia and Ning Baizura sometime in 2004.

Since its inception, RIA 89.7FM has organised several talent competitions for aspiring artistes and performers to showcase their talents. Over the years we’ve had competitions like Karaoke 897, Kitalah Bintang, RIA Band Remix and Kriatif RIA amongst others. Such competitions have been good foundations for artistes like Hetty Sarlene, Rudy Djoharnaen, Mansor Warren, Izzla (Malaysian artiste), X-Tech, Kraton and many more. So it was apt that during the event, Styles From Beyond, who were the winners of Kriatif RIA a few years ago and also participated in 2008‘s The Dance Floor competition on Channel 5, were invited to showcase their talents once again.

The twist to their performance was they had Fiza O and Nity Baizura dancing along with them and the two of them did not look out of place at all. Yours truly also belong to the Kriatif RIA alumnus but I don’t think my group would be relevant in the current context had we been invited to perform, seeing that we were only impersonators of KRU and the real McCoy have since cooled off to concentrate more on their music and filming empire. Anyway, we’ve had our time and what great memories they were. My only regrets were the lack of videos and photographs of our past performances. If only YouTube was invented earlier.

I could sense the restlessness amongst the audience when Styles From Beyond were performing as the night was getting late. But all those feelings disintegrated when Hady Mirza came onstage to sing “Merpati“, which came in third on the Top 20. He even took time to come down and shook hands with everyone seated on the front row. And what is a Hady performance nowadays without his gargantuan hit “Angkasa”??? I have to repeat again that it is tops for thirteen weeks now on the current RIA Chartz, a phenomenon of sorts.

Taufik Batisah‘s appearance towards the end was a no-brainer. But I was surprised that his song “Usah Lepaskan” came in first on the Top 20 list of songs. Not that I have any doubts or have an axe to grind with Taufik, far from it, but it reflects the current demographics and patterns of voters out there, not to mention preferences. Had this poll been done in 2000, there will be no surprises as to which singer or song would top the charts. However Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza could be pleased with the fact that three of her previous hits “Cindai“, “Aku Cinta Padamu” and “Percayalah” made it to the list, thus making her the top artiste over the past two decades. That’s another no-brainer really given how much she has achieved in her career spanning fifteen years and counting.

What was unique about Taufik‘s performance was the fact that the producer of RIA Big Bash, RZ himself, came on stage to sing the first few verses and chorus of “Usah Lepaskan“, just to keep the audience in suspense, anticipating the arrival of the first Singapore Idol onstage. Though he forgot the lyrics at some point, I thought RZ did a decent job singing the song. The tiredness on his face was evident and I knew he has been spending long hours at work preparing for this big-scale event. Taufik followed up his performance singing “Tiada Dua“, a song that is fast gaining its admirers. But it is not a surprise to me at all. Taufik seems to have the Midas touch in that any single of his that is introduced to the listeners, it will surely be a guaranteed hit. No question about it.

The last act of the night belonged to the RIA male presenters who formed a band amongst themselves and are simply called RIA Band, with DJ KC on vocals, Brader Bo on lead guitar and RZ on drums. Apologies as the identity of their guest bassist was lost on me though. The band, which was formed during the first Band Remix competition back in 2007, performed Ricky Martin‘s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and literally burnt the house down with their virtuoso and energetic performance.

It was also a nice gesture for them to call up Zan Sofiyan, one of its original members, and Azmi Sempoi to perform on stage with them halfway through the song to signal its finale. And what a finale it was with Brader Bo smashing his guitar. It truly felt like watching a proper rock concert.

RIA Big Bash was overall, a resounding success in my opinion, not because I’ve been a loyal listener since 1st December 1990, or because I used to be an intern back in 1998 or for the fact that I regard some of the presenters as good friends. The main thing for me is that for a big-scale event like this, RIA can pat themselves on the back for being able to attract a full house (the empty seats in the auditorium I believe, belonged to representatives from sponsors and invitees who did not turn up) and most importantly without the need to call upon a guest artiste from Malaysia or Indonesia. It was an all-Singaporean affair which in itself is a landmark and progress that we have made over the years to see our local Malay music industry bloom. Indeed since its inception, RIA has done a commendable job to introduce and support local acts, even to the point of granting airplay to songs which do not meet the basic quality standards.

However, there were flaws that could have been avoided. The day of the event which was on a Sunday was top of the list, bearing in mind that the next day was a Monday and people had to go to work or attend school. It was too evident when the show started almost half an hour late and certain segments were too draggy or absolutely redundant. The magic show for instance could have just been done by KC or Imran. The opening acts involving Sambateria and Si Anak Seni I felt was just a repetitive segment which could have been done either by fusing their respective genres or limited to just one. With so many acts on show, there was a tendency of the old adage of too many cooks spoiling the broth rearing its ugly head.

The event also felt like a repeat of last August‘s Rentak Singapura event organised by both RIA and Warna 94.2FM. Even though I did not attend that event due to personal commitments, the main artistes on show that night (Taufik, Hady, Zaibaktian, Nana and Didicazli) were also the same headliners on 21st February 2010. Not meaning to take anything away from the five talented singers, I believe we still have other acts patiently waiting for their opportunities to make themselves be heard and seen. But I can understand why they were chosen because they have their own sets of loyal supporters who would go the distance in supporting them. As a result, we saw that the event was a full house. The sound system was also left to be desired as the vocals of the singers were sometimes drowned by the music that accompanied them. Which was a pity really cos the talents on show certainly deserved better justice to their performances.

The positive side of it is that this event is only the first of many for 2010 and one could expect more local acts to be invited for upcoming ones in store. I just don’t want to hear something like so-and-so is a golden child to so-and-so or this person charges lesser that’s why he / she was invited. Have heard of such things like that across the Causeway and I don’t want our industry to suffer the same thing. Have yet to anyway, that’s why I’m just throwing caution to the wind. Not pointing fingers at anyone in case some of you feel that way. Jealousy breeds contempt in so many ways and what I brought up has happened before, so I wouldn’t like to see it repeated here. Before I end this entry, here is the full list of Top 20 songs on RIA over the past twenty years:

Top 20 Songs on RIA 89.7FM (1990-2010)

  1. Usah Lepaskan – Taufik Batisah
  2. Demi Waktu – Ungu
  3.  Merpati – Hady Mirza
  4. Cindai – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  5. Percayalah – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  6. Kaulah Segalanya – Hazrul Nizam
  7. Janji Manismu -Aishah
  8. Dealova – Once (Dewa 19)
  9. Mentera Semerah Padi – M. Nasir
  10. Mungkin Nanti – Peterpan
  11. Kenangan Terindah – Samsons
  12. Seribu Tahun – Imran Ajmain
  13. Bunga-Bunga Cinta – Misha Omar
  14. Aku Cinta Padamu – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza
  15. Cenderawasih – 2D
  16. Menghitung Hari – Kris Dayanti
  17. Kekasih Awal & Akhir – Jamal Abdillah
  18. Bilang Saja – Agnes Monica
  19. P.U.S.P.A. – ST12
  20. Hijau – Zainal Abidin

Glenn Fredly Lovevolution Concert Reminisced…

I know I’ve been holding this entry back for quite some time because I wanted to space out my entries. It didn’t help that the last entry I did was of more importance for the sake of public awareness. At least I know you’ll be coming back for more. Another reason why I procrastinated on this entry was because I dunno what to talk about in the first place, other than the fact that Glenn Fredly is a charismatic singer, whose voice and stage presence alone are enough reasons for someone to part his hard-earned money to watch him perform up-close and live.

However, the ironical thing is that, no matter how great and inspiring Glenn Fredly is as a crooner and soul balladeer, personally I’ve never held him in high esteem nor mention his name in the same breath as one of my favourite artistes like vocal male powerhouses Anuar Zain or Imran Ajmain for instance. Even his popularity in these parts is more or less subjected to a few hit singles like “Januari“, “Sedih Tak Berujung“, “Happy Sunday“, “Cuma Kamu” and “Dengarkanlah“, the duet he did with Malaysian songbird Amy Mastura. Quite a mystery to me as he has a voice which could melt a woman’s heart and transport them to dreamland just by opening his mouth to sing.

However, I do appreciate the God-given talents this Ambon native possesses and boy does he have it in abundance??? I almost forgot that I actually own two of his earlier albums in my CD collection entitled “Kembali” which was released in 2000 and “Selamat Pagi, Dunia!” released in 2003. I bought the former because I fell in love with his song “Kasih Putih” the first time I heard it on radio. The latter album, with his greatest hit “Januari” and “Terpesona“, a duet he did with Audy, was considered his best-selling album to date, spawning a repackaged version in 2004, which contained two other hit singles “Akhir Cerita Cinta” and “Sedih Tak Berujung“.

And so you might wonder, why did I spend my hard-earned money to watch someone I do not list as one of my favourite artistes nor hold him in high regards??? Well the answer goes way back to 2007 when Glenn Fredly held court to his first concert here in Singapore at the Rock Auditorium, Suntec City Mall. That concert coincided with his “Happy Sunday Tour” and for those who went, would remember seeing Taufik Batisah, our first Singapore Idol, in the audience. Back then, the concert was a sell-out event and he literally tore the roof down and had the audience rushing forward and dancing to his songs. It certainly helped that such a venue did not result in the kind of hefty ticket pricing that Esplanade usually commands, which meant that a lot of Indonesians working as domestic workers here were able to enjoy the concert.

In case you’re wondering if I’m looking down on these workers for their lack of spending acumen, the answer is no, cos I did stumble upon a blog site belonging to an Indonesian who said that her fellow countrymen who came to watch Glenn Fredly‘s Lovevolution concert were mostly from the richer class. Upon reflection I thought it was quite a fair comment, seeing the tickets that the Esplanade had set, are about a third to half of what these domestic workers earn monthly and I don’t think many of them would want to part with their hard-earned money just like that. Still on the subject of the “Happy Sunday Tour” concert, well what a show it was, as one could really see the Indonesian audience letting their hair down, as compared to their Singaporean counterparts, who are normally dead-pan when watching concerts, the Malay ones that is.

Another factor which swayed me to watch the Lovevolution concert was the fact that it was promoted as being his last concert tour before he retires. Well the word “retires” certainly did come out from his mouth when he held a press conference to announce the concert tour and the launch of the Lovevolution album on the same day as the concert. Though rumours have been rife about his health condition, the actual reason he gave was to return to his hometown to open a production house and social foundation that would guide the potential youngsters to achieve their dreams of seeing their musical talents recognised. Even then, the health rumours still have not gone away and continue to linger even after the man has explained himself. With those factors in mind, I got myself front-row tickets, which to me came as quite a bit of a surprise as I had expected people to snap the tickets up the moment they got wind of Glenn‘s retirement plans.

When I entered the Esplanade Theatre, I was extremely surprised to see only the first level stall and circle seats were filled up and there was no one on the second, third and fourth level. This was something new to me as past events and concerts held at the Esplanade Theatre that I attended were relatively sold-out events. As I made my way to my seat, I spotted a few familiar faces, notably Didicazli, Wawan (Anugerah 2009 finalist) who were seated at the fourth row and Mr. Hassan Salleh, Senior Programme Director of RIA 89.7FM and his wife, who were seated just behind me and my missus. I also noticed Fauzie Laily and friends seated at the other end of the second row. Familiar faces, all with one intention – To enjoy watching a class performer strut his stuff one last time on our shores.

My old football buddy, Fauzie Laily, truly enjoyed himself there… By the way, tomorrow 22 February 2010, his official website, www.fauzielaily.com will be launched at 2:22pm… Do look out for it!!!

And we were not disappointed throughout a concert which was supposed to last 105 minutes. In fact it went on for slightly more than two hours. Even though most of the songs were lost on us due to their unfamiliarity and lack of airplay here, that did not stop the audience from tapping our feet and clapping along to the beats of the songs sung by Glenn that night, who continuously quipped that he felt blessed to realise his dreams of performing at a world class venue like the Esplanade, a legacy which would live long in his memory. True to his soft spoken nature, he addressed the audience with such sincerity and warmth, the ladies just couldn’t help themselves by displaying their love for him with constant shouts-out of “I love you Glenn!

Backed by a tight unit of six sessionists and one musical programmer, Glenn oozed a certain kind of sexiness and charisma on stage which not many are able to exude. Shifting from playing the guitar and the piano intermittently, Glenn was in his element, whipping up the audience into standing up and dancing along to his songs, just like the last concert he did here in 2007. Though the man is known for his sappy ballads and tear-jerking songs, some of his catchy R&B-infused songs performed that night were given elegant touches of jazz, a dash of funk, a sprinkle of pop, a dose of salsa, and even a pinch of disco at different points, leaving memorable impressions on the minds of those who were there to witness it first-hand.

His lead guitarist and saxaphonist in particular, were the side attractions, coming forward to play their instruments alongside Glenn and dancing along with him. Like most musicians who credit the late Michael Jackson as a massive form of inspiration to their respective works of art, he even paid tribute to the “King of Pop”  in one segment by singing “Human Nature” and “The Lady In My Life“. When he broke into his more familiar tunes on these shores, the audience could be heard singing along. Especially when he sang “Januari”, it was melodious to hear the whole arena acting as his back-up vocals and singing with gusto. It is afterall his monster hit here that still receives constant airplay, even though the song is already more than six years old.

Lovevolution marks Glenn Fredly‘s latest chapter in his music career. The songs in the album represent his experiences throughout his journey, the hits, the misses, the love, the heartbreaks all culminating into one masterpiece of an album. And he took great pains to say that it is because of love that he is still standing as a musician and love itself that brought him to the Esplanade to realise his dreams of performing there. Though he reflected wistfully on his two failed marriages, he said it actually made him an even stronger person and believe that love when it comes in future, would give it the perfection that his previous experiences had almost given him. Always positive, truly optimistic this fella.

Fauzie with Ibrahim Hashim (theatre activist), DJ KC (RIA 89.7FM), Rafil Kamaruddin (Organisational Excellence Executive with MUIS), Fiza O (RIA 89.7FM) and Janna Jauhar (Labels of Love)

It has to be said also that this concert had its fair share of sacrifices made on his part. For one, Glenn had to miss his younger sibling’s wedding on the same day of the concert, a landmark event that he regretted not being able to attend, but still found time to give props and dedicated a song to the newly-weds. The build up to the concert day also made him stay away from seafood or food that have elements of them in it, for fear that his health would prevent him from giving the audience a good performance. It has afterall been well-documented that late last year, he suffered a setback due to problems to his digestive systems. Due diligence and care towards his health were of paramount importance in only giving his absolute best for the audience to remember him by in this concert.

Mr. Hassan Salleh, Ms. Zakiah Halim (Vice President, Malay, Indian & Expatriate Programming, MediaCorp Radio), Fiza O & KC enjoyed the concert as their smiles were testament to it…

What was initially meant to be a “retirement” actually turned out to be a form of hibernation and rest from the entertainment scene in Indonesia. For how long he would be out of the scene that he has given so much dedication to for the past fifteen years, only time will tell and only he will decide when is the right time to return. But what was important was the legacy he left, the indelible impressions he had worked so hard to leave behind, the sweet memories he would want his fans and those who appreciate his music to remember him by. The Lovevolution concert, with him performing at least twenty-one songs that night, was one and a testimony that Glenn Fredly is indeed an entertaining performer, a genuine and professional class act, who deserves every title that is bestowed upon him especially the one that I subscribe to the most that is, “The King of Indonesian R&B“…

P.S. In what is now slowly becoming a regular feature of this blog and I’ll try to feature more artistes to do a promo of their works, albums, upcoming shows, dramas they’re acting in in future entries, God willing, I leave you with a message from Fiza O:

Of Basic Ethics & Sincere Intentions…

Some of you reading this who follow me on Twitter or if you’re in my list of contacts in Facebook would have noticed my rants this past Tuesday. In my rants, I voiced out my unhappiness towards an initiation and public announcement on Berita Harian on the days leading up to the recent Kawin-Kawin Makan-Makan exhibition at Singapore Expo Hall 6B, over the past Chinese New Year weekend, that a Dollah Kassim Soccer Academy was to be launched on Tuesday, 16th February 2010 at 6:00pm. Just to give you a sample of how the advertisement looked like in case you might have missed out on it as well, I’ve taken the liberty to scan it for you:

If it wasn’t for the wife’s sharp eye for details, I think my family members and I would not have seen the advertisement ourselves or be made aware of it. So you must be wondering why am I feeling absolutely pissed off about it, rather than feel honoured that my uncle would leave a legacy to remember him by, by having a  football academy to his name??? The answer is too elementary and even an idiot could tell us the straight answer.

In anything we do in life, if it involves using someone else’s name, or if we were to borrow something that belongs to him or her, what must we do first and foremost??? I’m sure anyone out there would know that the answer is a no-brainer and that the most basic thing to do is to seek the permission of the person or his next-of-kin. Even in intellectual property rights, due approval is needed before someone can make use of its contents or risked being faced with legal action. If I had not informed my cousins and aunt about it, and I only informed them on Sunday night when I went over to visit Uncle Dollah at his home, they too would not have known about this.

The person who initiated this idea, simply forgot the most basic of rules and that was to seek the permission of Uncle Dollah‘s family to use his name or introduce the idea of having a football academy to his name. We’re not uncivilised and uncultured people. Which was why, to give this person the benefit of doubt, we all waited for him to personally contact Uncle Dollah‘s family up till this past Tuesday itself, but he never called. It was only when my cousin Ezaad was on his way to the Expo, did he receive a call from ex-international Malek Awab, asking him to come down and witness the so-called “launch”.

Look, if you are freaking sincere about doing something noble and a service to Uncle Dollah‘s family as well as the community, why aren’t you brave enough to call my cousin yourself??? Why do you need to have a third party doing the dirty work for you, and that too at the very last minute??? How would anyone of you out there feel if someone uses your father’s name for their own benefits without having the courtesy to inform you of their intentions??? Does it sound genuinely sincere at all that you only contacted my cousin through a third party, that too, when he himself already made the decision to go down and see it for himself??? I am sure that anyone reading this would understand the anger seething within my family’s ranks that someone in his haste to come up with a noble idea, could mess it up big time. But it didn’t end there.

When Ezaad talked to him backstage prior to the so-called “launch”, he was given the idea that it was all a misunderstanding and that no mention of the launch of the football academy was to be made since the family had not sat down to discuss its possibility. What was supposed to happen on stage was to collect funds for Uncle Dollah via auctions made on football stuff donated by Malek Awab himself, as this person was highly inspired by what Perkamus did the previous month at the last Mega Wedding & Lifestyle exhibition. Ezaad also told me that Malek Awab himself  had his reservations about this project simply because it is on a voluntary basis and wondered how long it can sustain. And so Ezaad and I waited for the event to unfold. What was promoted to start at 6:00pm, ended up starting at 7:30pm. Typical huh??? *snigger*

You can imagine the shock on our faces when the emcee on stage, Syah Ibrahim, announced that the “launch” of the football academy was on. Malek Awab, this smart aleck of a guy and another person whose identity was lost on me, were invited up on stage to launch the football academy. After the initial introductions were made, Ezaad himself was asked to come on stage to receive a token, which was actually a flimsy piece of paper folded in three and stapled at the sides. What was inside it, I didn’t want to know cos just by the look of it, reflected how much sincerity went into it.

By then I was already fuming mad and had half the mind to go up on stage and say that this launch was a no go. Ezaad himself was initially reluctant to go up on stage as he too was royally pissed, but he had the presence of mind and compassion to not spoil the event. To his credit, he thanked everyone for all their help, donation and prayers towards Uncle Dollah all these while, without mentioning anything about the launch or the football academy. I am extremely proud of my cousin that even in his state of anger and embarrassment, he still kept his cool and dignity. I doubt I could maintain that stance, given my short-tempered nature.

The smart aleck then went on to promote that whoever is interested to participate in the football academy and if they’re 16 years old and below, could come down to Compassvale Primary every Sunday at 8:30am for training. That particular line literally had my blood at its boiling point and I was really bursting at the seams. What happened to the so-called non-mention of the football academy launch made earlier??? And there wasn’t even any auctions made as well.

To rub salt to my family’s wounds, they immediately held interviews backstage with a Channel News Asia staff to announce the launch of the football academy. Thankfully Ezaad was on hand to inform the producer not to release the news as the family had not made a firm decision on this. The way we see it, this smart aleck seems to want to use Uncle Dollah‘s name to attract more aspiring young footballers to train under him, seeing that he already is doing some coaching on the said day and time. For all the names of the ex-internationals mentioned in the advertisement, only Malek Awab turned up to “support” the event, but I believe he too is very much sceptical about it and we do not hold it against him for going through the motions.

My whole family is up in arms over this matter and we all regard this as a very serious and grave issue. Cynics out there would question the fact that we’re being ungrateful to people who have voluntarily come forward to offer their goodwill services to help in Uncle Dollah‘s cause. While we appreciate the kind gesture, we are extremely upset and vexed that Uncle Dollah‘s name is bandied about without getting his immediate family’s approval, nor discussing with them personally of plans to have this academy going. Not only that, they were also not told how the football academy is going to be run, what constitutes its administration, who are the people behind it, who is responsible for its licensing, funding and logistics cos even if it’s done voluntarily, the issue of money is never ever too far away.

It is also not so easy to launch a football academy without first getting its proper accreditation from the Singapore Sports Council, Football Association of Singapore and Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports. I wondered if all these factors had been taken into consideration or not prior to announcing to the whole wide world on the existence of this football academy??? If things were to go wrong, who is supposed to be accountable for the mess, Uncle Dollah or his family members, or the people who volunteered to run it??? Whatever it is, if things were to turn sour, the first thing the public will clamour for blood is Uncle Dollah‘s, simply because his name is used. I’m sure nobody would want to witness the day a legendary national sportsman’s name being dragged down the mud and losing his honour through irresponsible means and characters.

I hope whoever was at Singapore Expo that day when this so-called football academy was launched, would not be taken in easily and that no kids out there would have high hopes of joining it cos it surely is not going to happen and I believe my aunt and cousins are hell-bent and adamant against it. As a family, we did have initial plans to set up a football academy under Uncle Dollah‘s name and these plans were discussed prior to his unfortunate deterioration of health. If this project is ever going to materialise, then the legend himself would have the final say and would be overlooking the proceedings, not any strangers out there,  not anyone from the local football fraternity, most definitely not even ex-youth players who claim to be ex-international players.

Initially I did not want to publish this entry, because we were supposed to hold an emergency meeting with this person before this week is out. But he put it off to next week and I cannot have kids or parents who were at the Expo that fateful Tuesday believing that this football academy is genuine and approved by the relevant authorities as well as Uncle Dollah‘s family, and perhaps turning up this Sunday thinking they are really training under the umbrella of Dollah Kassim Soccer Academy. Nobody in our family died and appointed this person our decision maker. Whatever innovative ideas you have, you jolly well get the necessary approval and do your bloody homework. Don’t assume and jump into wild conclusions that what you are doing would be a service. You’re only making things worse for the family!!!

THE WHOLE FAMILY DEMANDS A PUBLIC APOLOGY FOR USING UNCLE DOLLAH’S NAME WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL!!!

Anak Wayang Promo…

I had given my word to a good friend of mine that I would be putting this promo up by the past weekend but as I had other commitments to look into, I could only upload this today. Apologies dear friend, hope you don’t hold it against me for not keeping my word. Anyway, I hope for those of you who have the time and would like to immerse yourself in a theatre production, then I suggest you keep the dates and times mentioned below free. Attached with this promotional poster is the synopsis of the production, which I have edited to give it an edgier outlook:

ANAK WAYANG

Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd will be producing “Ának Wayang a dance theatre, as a tribute to all performing arts activists also known as “Anak Seni“, who have contributed in abundance, in the effort of promoting “Performing Arts” in Singapore, through dance, theatre and music.

Sri Warisan has invited Sri Mahligai, Sri Anggerik Bangsawan and Sriwana, names that are synonymous in the local traditional Malay dance and music fraternity, to collaborate in this grand production.

Initiated and conceptualised by Mr Adel Dzulkarnaen Ahmad and Marina Yusoff as the Script Writer and Director, the ultimate goal of Ának Wayang” is the assembly of the new-generation teams of the respective four traditional performing groups in one production, thus providing a platform and avenue to gain artistic experience and cohesiveness amongst them. They are our future and our hope; they are Singapore’s “Anak Wayang“.

Anak Wayang” portrays how the journey of an “Anak Wayang” begins and experiences, way back in the 1920’s. Beginning with scenes from the kampung / village to the Bangsawan era, the journey would then shift to the booming film industry back in the days of Jalan Ampas, highlighting the sacrifices made by “Anak Wayang” to be a full time performer in the 1950’s. For those of you who miss the days of yore, flashbacks depicting the Dondang Sayang club in the 1980’s would be a walk down memory lane to savour. Also in a surprising twist in scenes of the future, “Anak Wayang” will make inroads by going global & international, progressing and achieving success in the modern, technology era.

This production will also feature Shahril Wahid, a renowned theatre activist, dancer, presenter & Mediacorp Suria’s freelance artiste. Shahril came to the fore in the local Malay entertainment industry when he was crowned the inaugural Anugerah Skrin winner (Male Category) back in 2006. Since then he has played a variety of roles on television, of which the recent one as a handicapped and paralysed character in the drama series “Gerimis Di Hati“, has been touted as his best performance to date.