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.

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