I was thrilled to hear the news that Haji Hasbullah Awang the renowned sports commentator has been conferred “Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang” (DIMP) which carries the title Dato’ by DYMM Sultan Pahang on His Highness birthday on Sunday 24 October 2010.
I have known “Bol” as Hasbullah is fondly known among his close acquaintance since the late 70s when he was attached to RTM Kuantan and I was on RTM’s Sports circuit covering sports events all over the country. At that time he was a rookie broadcaster (on a part time basis) learning the trick of the trade in Kuantan. I took notice of him for his booming voice and good delivery. He was the sports’ voice at RTM Kuantan and would tag along with the crew from the headquarters Kuala Lumpur. At that point and time I happened to be the lead commentator over Radio and TV. I pass the word to my boss that he should be in KL as we were short handed of capable and quality commentators for live events.
By the time the Sports Department of RTM was inaugurated and I was appointed the pioneer Head in the early 80s Bol was already a RTM staff as Broadcasting Assistant Grade III (BA 3). Naturally he was recruited into our Radio section. By that time work load did not permit me to sit in front of the cameras and I left the scene with a tinge. Hasbullah, Rahim Razali, Aziz Ibrahim, Abdullah Hasim among others were ready to take over the mettle.
At that time the duty of a Radio broadcaster was not confine to his or her own department and the Radio staff was allowed to lend their voices on “voluntary basis” to television. TV has no such post on their pay roll but has a substantial budget for “part-timers” as it was suppose to get the best talent around for the job. The payment for the part-timers was lucrative. As it was on piece meal basis the accumulative monthly payment exceeded even the salary of a senior staff in the programme division.
A BA3 like Bol was getting an equivalent of a clerical service staff. I felt it was an irony for someone with better performance to do the job gratis (he made the normal claim for outstation duties with permission from his boss). With a growing family he was trying to make ends meet in costly KL. There were others in his position as well. I made a recommendation to the directorate and the Treasury Dept that such Radio staff be given the stipulated part-time allowances for their contribution to TV. Of course the duty has to be outside their working hours. It was strongly endorsed by the then Director-General the late Zain Mahmood.
The Treasury took a long time to make its decision and by the time they gave a positive answer our friend Bol quit his post as BA3 and straight away became our “permanent” part-time. Of course his living style changed for the better. He could even build his own bungalow in Bukit Naga, Shah Alam, on a “part-time basis” literally for a few years. When I went for his Raya Open House two months back he proudly announced that the “part-time extension” of the house has ended. Yes, he has a beautiful home fit for a Dato’.
Congratulations Dato’ Haji Hasbullah Awang.