Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I pick this up from RTM's publication in conjunction of its Silver Jubilee in 1971. If it is a car it certainly would merit the title "antique" today. I found it in my store in the process of Hari Raya cleaning (the Mat Salleh term it spring cleaning) and decided it should find a niche place in my "little" library. Since I am on the subject for this blog I decided to place the most meaningful part of the publication here.

When I joined the department, it was the practiced to submit quarterly report to the head, who likewise will do the same on his division to the higher up. I suppose the Director-General will have his own report. I have been submitting the quarterly report without failed until I was transferred out of "Suara Malaysia" (Voice of Malaysia) the external broadcasts of RTM in 1982. When I went back to the mainstream of the department at Angkasapuri as the Head of "Bahagian Hal Ehwal Awam" (Public Affairs Department) I found that writing the quarterly report was no longer in vogue. I did not make any issue of it because there were too much to do as it was hands-on business on daily basis. Anyway, it was difficult to find time for the chore. As far as I knew none of my colleagues submitted any report like we used to.

I thought it was a good practice as we could reflect on how much we have achieved to meet the objective and target set. The report include the objective, activities, staff list, disbursement of budget of the division, observations and finally suggestions. It was useful for planning.

I don't know why the practice was disbanded and I am not sure if it has been revive after my retirement in 1995, in line with the latest Cabinet decision to scrutinise the activities of the ministers. The nearest I could think of before my retirement was writing the annual performance of individual staff which has its flaws and made many unhappy when they did not get the merit they felt they deserve in term of salary increments.

The good thing about the report is that it finally ended in the annual publication of the department, a useful reference point. Later that too stopped. I suppose it was incorporated as part and parcel of the report and annual publication of the Ministry of Information publish by the Information Department.

Before embarking on the landmark of broadcasting in Malaysia it is pertinent that we look briefly at events leading to the birth of broadcasting and related infrastructure in the world. Due to lack of knowledge of other languages, my only reference is the British publications which claim that the inventor of Radio was Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. I was told the German, French and Japanese has different version of their own. Likewise it is the same for Television which was discovered by John Logie Baird. Japan came to the forefront in the 1970's and the later years with the invention of the Walkman, Compact Disc, DVD, Pocket Telephone, Video Walkman and the like which change the audio-visual scenes completely. Of course there were casualties among the inventions which include the open reel audio tapes, cassette tapes, phonographic records and the video discs which lost its usefulness to the newer inventions. Presently the computer chips are in fashion as it can store up a lot of information including music, movie and such.

The first radio broadcasts begin in 1920. Television first public transmission started in Britain in 1936. Looking at those dates broadcasting is certainly a recent phenomena in the world and our country did not lagged behind. Being a British colony, the developments came fast to the then territories in Malaysia as part and parcel of dissemination of information and propaganda of the colonial rulers.

According to the official publication one the first radio set was imported to Johor in 1921 by a certain Mr A.L.Birch. the Chief Electrical Engineer, who subsequently formed the Johor Wireless Society. Two years later they began broadcasting on 300 metre band. Later Wireless Societies were formed in Singapore, Penang and Kuala Lumpur with their own broadcasts. The one in Kuala Lumpur was the Malayan Wireless Society which started its broadcasts from Petaling Hill in 1930. In Penang the ZHJ station pioneered transmission in Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English on 49.3 metre in 1934, which became the pattern of broadcasting structure in the country.

1st March 1937 saw the official opening of the British Malaya Broadcasting Corporation (BMBC) studios and transmitters at Caldecott Hill in Singapore. In 1940 BMBC was taken over by the Government of the Straits Settlement, and became part of the British Department of Information known as Malaya Broadcasting Corporation. Meantime in Penang, the ZHJ started the first Malayan Overseas Broadcast in Thai. It was only upon the outbreak of World War II that a small make-shift station was set up in Kuala Lumpur by the United Kingdom Ministry of Information and Propaganda.

Then came the Japanese invasion of Malaya on 8 December 1941. Less than 3 months later on 15 February 1942 the British surrendered at their bastion in Singapore. The Japanese quickly set up their own broadcasts from Penang, Melaka, Seremban, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It ended with their surrender in September 1945. The British Military Authority took over the broadcasting stations in those places and restarted their own broadcasts.

On 1st April 1946 the Department of Broadcasting was set up which existed until today better known as Radio-Television Malaysia, RTM.

The outbreak of militant Communist terrorism in 1948 made it necessary to expand Radio Malaya. Since then expansion has continued each year.

On achieving Merdeka (Independence) on 31st August 1957 the Malay Peninsular became the Independant Federation of Malaya, the pan-Malayan radio service was an anachronism. On 1st January 1959 the new Radio service was inaugurated in Kuala Lumpur, a new service to serve the Federation exclusively. Its broadcasting operations was centred at the Federal House, Kuala Lumpur.

With the formation of  Malaysia on 16th September 1963, Radio Malaya become RADIO MALAYSIA.

It was in November 1966 the Prime Minister Tengku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj laid the foundation of he new National Broadcasting Complex. On 17th February 1968 the Malaysian Broadcasting Centre known as ANGKASAPURI was officially opened by Tengku Abdul Rahman. Television Malaysia officially began its programme from its new operational centre at Wisma TV, Angkasapuri. With that TV Malaysia introduced its Second Network on 17th November 1969.

it was on 1st October 1969 that Radio Malaysia and TV Malaysia was integrated under the Department of Broadcasting, better known as Radio-Television Malaysia RTM.

WISMA RADIO (Radio House) which forms the second phase of the Malaysian Broadcasting Centre Project at Pantai Hill, came under construction in the 1960s. It comprises a six-storey building housing the technical and administration facilities for the Department of Radio and a 1,000 seat auditorium linked by a common entrance hall and foyer.

The Wisma originally has eight continuity suites, five Talks suites, six Drama suites, one Sound Effects suite, two editting suites, several editting cubicles, and another Auditorium which could accommodate 250 audience.

The large 1,000-seat Auditorium is the central facet of the entire radio complex. It provided not only permanent accommodation for the Radio Malaysia Orchestra but also serve as the first sizeable Auditorium of this immediate region that is acoustically treated for musical presentations. Additionally staging facilities was incorporated to permit small theatrical production. Later, with the merger of the two Departments (Radio and Television) to be known as Radio-Television Malaysia RTM and the expansion of the production facilities the Auditorium was transform into a TV studio where numerous never to be forgotten live transmission of musical shows were telecast.

I was part of the staff that moved bodily from Federal House to Wisma Radio way back in mid 1972 as by then I was transferred back to Kuala Lumpur from Penang. Radio operations at Federal House ceased. It was a nostalgic occasion when we have to change our culture and way of life to a much less bustling area in Pantai those days. But then we were proud to be part of history.  

Monday, December 21, 2009


I reported for duty at the Bahagian Melayu (Malay Service) of Radio Malaysia on 7 November, 1963. I was directed to the Administrative Service headed by Mr Sinnathamby, who explain the rudimentary of being in the Malaysian government service, with regards to my post of Broadcasting Grade II or simply BA2 in the Department of Radio (better known as Radio Malaysia then), later became the Department of Broadcasting when it was integrated with Television Malaysia (Radio-Television Malaysia, RTM).

He gave me the official appointment letter and conditions. There were some paper works to be completed. All were still in English. Finally I have to undergo the medical examinations at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital before my appointment could be confirmed.

In the meantime I was formally introduced to my colleagues who welcome me warmly to lessen their workloads. The Department was expanding at a fast rate since the big shift from Singapore after Malaya gain its independent and the inception of Malaysia 4 months before I joined Radio Malaysia. To top it all the country was facing the "Konfrantasi" from the Indonesian regime who were against the formation of Malaysia. A new entity in the form of "Suara Malaysia" (Voice of Malaysia, VOM) as part and parcel of the overseas service of Radio Malaysia, broadcasting in English, Indonesia and Mandarin came into being. The VOM went on the air on 15 February 1963. There were plenty to do.

The job was completely new and strange to me. There was no official training. I was told to "observe" and "double bank" certain colleagues each day. Those were new terminologies to me. It was worst than being a temporary teacher. In teaching you have the syllabus and text books as well as modules to fall back on. In broadcasting it was a clean sheet completely. You are on your own. In short, it was training on the job, more or less "trial and error" method. To me it was sort of "no error" tolerated situation when on the air. In later years staffs are sent to the training centre, Institute Penyiaran Tun Abdul Razak, IPTAR.

The nearest I came to know about broadcasting was listening to the radio of the early days assisted by the big battery in the kampungs where my father serve as Penghulu, and it was on shortwave band interspersed by static noises. Those days the anti colonial sentiment was instill in us and we even listen to Radio Republik Indonesia RRI where I heard the fine oratory of Bung Karno (President Sukarno). Later in 1959 after leaving school I was taken to the Merdeka Stadium by my classmate in Anderson School, Rahim Razali (now Dato') where he was giving a football commentary. He was a Temporary BA3 prior to his departure to Australia for further studies.

The broadcasting hours was short then, it was at 6 to 9 in the morning, 12 to 3 in the afternoon and 6 to 12 at night. Later the segments were banded together and the broadcasting hours remained from 6 a.m. to midnight for a long time after which it was decided to have the 24 hours broadcast when the operations shifted from Federal House to Wisma Radio in the broadcasting complex Angkasapuri in 1972.

In the early days of RTM, both Radio and Television were separate entities in term of administrations. Later it was truly integrated where staff was interchangeable in their duties in line with the government service policy of banding posts in all its departments into 4 categories of grade, A, B, C and D and later the numerical nomenclature. That was how a radio man like me landed in television to the displeasure of my colleagues in television. The intake of staffs was no longer based on talents and skill. Emphasis was on qualifications.

The broadcasters that the public knew were the voices heard over radio and the faces they see on television. They hardly knew the staff behind the scene. who were in greater numbers. When the new intake policy in the civil service was implemented it was also the time when public broadcasting was expanding in line with the economic development of the country. Naturally there was a drop in quality of voices heard over the airwaves for sometime. The advent of media studies in the universities and the commercial broadcasting entities change all that for the better. Competitions breed competency and efficiency.

With the advent of private stations the concept of broadcasting in the country changed completely especially over radio. No longer the broadcasters are guided by the scripts prepared. Technological advancement play a big role in that change. The inter-stations programme which was a big hit in the old days has been taken over by the phone-in where the so called "DJ" talk directly to the listeners. The mobile phones keep the public up to date with events around them. Of course there are pitfalls but the advantages override the detractors' acts.

My personal view of the mushrooming of the radio stations is that I do not see (hear) any different between the style and way of presentations of all the stations. All sound the same to me. The advent of narrow casting over the Frequency Modulator (FM) band made me listen less to radio, be what they claim being in their niche field. My field of listening is limited to the two languages I understand, Melayu and English. I cannot judge the other two languages and local dialects on the air in Malaysia.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I have never dreamt of becoming a broadcaster as it was not fashionable in the 1950's and 60's. In fact broadcasting in the country was at its infancy then; it was only radio and limited to certain hours of the day. In the colonial days Singapore was the centre with local stations in
Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Melaka. In those days broadcaster was look upon as a personality to be trusted with information.

It was way back in 1963 when my friend
Rejal Arbee (now Dato', a media doyen) told me the Malay Service of Radio Malaysia was looking for staff. I thought nothing of it as I was comfortable and well off teaching on temporary basis at the Maxwell School, Kuala Lumpur, in the days when it was not overshadowed by the viaduct and the imposing Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in front of it. He even wrote the application letter, made me sign and posted it. Rejal was a bit sore because he was turn down after a voice test.

To my surprise I was invited for a written and voice tests at the Federal House where the newly expanded Radio Malaysia had its office and studios on the 6
th, 7th and 8th floors. I met the "Ketua" (Head) of the then Malay Service the late Abu Bakar Ahmad, himself a veteran broadcaster from Singapore. After a brief sort of interview, he introduced me to his deputy the late Jamaliah Long, the "Pengelola" (Organiser) of the Service. She then called one of her staff to handle the written and the voice tests. Later I found out he was none other than the well known news reader and drama producer the late Azhar Ahmad, who later became my close friend.

I find the written test easy, consisting of simple essay writing which they call script and translation from English to Malay and vice
versa tailored for broadcasting. Then it was the voice test. Never done that before and I was apprehensive about it. Azhar put me at ease explaining the technique, how to handle the script while reading and the different way of delivering the news, talk and acting which was entirely new to me. He asked me to have a look at the script and let him know when I was ready.

I saw a few faces outside the glass pane of the studio looking in but I never let that bother me. Later I found out they were my curious would be colleagues who wanted to know who this guy was. So I went blabbering reading the script. It was quite lonely in the silence of the studio by oneself.

A couple of weeks later I was surprised to receive a letter from
Abu Bakar Ahmad saying I had been successful in both tests, offering the posts of Temporary Broadcasting Assistant Grade II with a starting basic salary of $500, and to report for duty within a month. It was a princely sum then and much more than what temporary teaching offer. As it was year end and the examinations was over the kind headmaster said I can go anytime. So I reported for duty as a broadcaster on Thursday 7 November, 1963 and never look back.

1963 was an auspicious year when Malaysia came into being and television was launch in the country in the name of "Television Malaysia" one of the earliest in the world.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Today Muslim in Malaysia celebrates the New Year,
Hijrah 1431.

In the old days it's simply called "
Awal Muharam" (beginning of Muharam, the first month in the Islamic calendar) but later the experts decided it should be "Maal Hijrah", Arabic connotation to denote the beginning of the Islamic calendar in conjunction with the move of Prophet Muhammad SAW from Mekah to Madinah, in the Gregorian year 622 AD. The significant of the shift being safety and defensive measures for the better which Muslims are encouraged to emulate.

When it was decided to change the name in Malaysia, we in
RTM has quite a time explaining and convincing the viewers and listeners. By and by "Maal Hijrah" it was, but die hard like yours truly who was brought up with "Awal Muharam" finds it difficult to "hijrah". When we had to do the job we were tasked there was no slip up. Today in my retirement days it is "Awal Muharam" for me.

To welcome the New Year,
Surau al-Ikhlas Jalan SS 19/1 Subang Jaya as usual had a special programme last night. The evening started with a short talk by Ustaz Shukri, the Imam of Darul Ehsan Mosque (across the road from Subang Parade) on the significant of "hijrah" prior to the Maghrib prayer. Muslim throughout the world started the day with this prayer, meaning it is the first of the new year. We had a full force congregation for the occasion, including the ladies.

Maghrib was followed with reciting of the "Yassin" (the chapter considered as the heart of the Holy Quraan), the "Doa" (prayer led by the imam) and continuation of talk by Ustaz Shukri before the "Isya" prayer followed by "Sembahyang hajat" requesting Allah's blessing for a good cause. Of course the night ended with a sumptuous "makan" (snack) prepared by the ladies.

By nature I am not that pious
per say and my religious conviction is plain and basic, but the occasion merit support to encourage the young of the community and the wayward to avoid unwarranted activities threatening the peace of mind of parents and elders.

forgo my favourite pastime, potato couching watching football in front of TV. It was special, the football final of the SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos between Malaysia "Harimau" (Tiger, the youth team) and the favourite Vietnam. Vietnam was the victor in their meeting in the earlier group match, therefore expected to make mince meat of the Tiger. I manage to watch the first half of the final. My verdict: Malaysia played second fiddle to a confident Viet's XI and deserve to loss. When I came home, to my surprise, I was told Malaysia manages to regain the title and the much sought after gold medal with a solitary goal toward the end of the match. At last after a long and painful hiatus. The expert in my house said "Macam makan suap aje". Just figure out what that mean but the literal translation is "spoon fed". In short, I didn't miss out on anything.

The significant
of this win I consider is a message from the Almighty that Malaysian football need a change in line with the spirit of "hijrah".

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I have wanted to write in this BLOG since last week when I was initiated into it by my good friend Tengku Ali Bustaman, our Sifu on the internet and a great geek, as far as the members of Persatuan Veteran RTM (PVRTM) is concern. He has already established his award winning blog DI BAWAH RANG IKANG KERING and the recent established POKKU'S POS, as well being the webmaster for PVRTM website.

I am not keen into the BLOG as I am more of a laid back guy who likes to see the world go by, without expressing myself loudly, with or without emotions. I was told to make it sort of a diary. That sound dangerous; people reading your diary, and knowing the dark side of you.

Tengku Ali convince me many out there would like to share my past experiences especially in the broadcasting world where I spent more than 32 years of my life, in the later years as manager and administrator, and particularly in the sphere of sports commentary both for Radio and TV in the days when there was no competition from the commercial broadcasters.

Of course there are others like friends, nephews and nieces who overwhelmed me with their desire of the same.

Well that's the beginning, hoping I still have the knack of putting expressions into words which I have not done since retiring in 1995. So enjoy but let me know what you all think, as well as what you like to add on.