October 2012 is Tributes month!
Three events were organized by various agencies to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the death of Singapore’s National Anthem composer Zubir Said. On 1 Oct, Prof Wang GungWu, Chairman, Institute of SE Asian Studies launched Datin Puan Dr Rohana’s book “Zubir Said: The Composer of Majulah Singapura” based on her father’s journals. Then on 10 Oct, the National Museum staged a festival of Cathay Keris featuring the music of Zubir Said. These events culminated in a concert on the music of Pak Zubir on 12 Oct 12.
I was really glad at the realisation of these Tribute events for Pak Zubir as I had followed Rohana on her journey in writing the book for over a year now. We had lost touch since the launch of the book “Zubir Said: His Songs” in 1990 and she had traced me through this blog. The Esplanade staff who hatched the idea of a concert had also found me through this blog and I had connected him to Rohana with a suggestion that the concert and book launch be timed together for impact. As it turned out, the National Museum also decided to stage a festival of Cathay Keris films, with English translation. What a thrill to meet veteran singers like Nona Aisiah and Julie Sudiro at the launch of the film festival!
“Zubir Said: The Composer of Majulah Singapura” was launched in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 21 Oct by the Malaysian Minister for Information, Commumications and Culture Dr Rais Yatim. The event was also graced by former Malaysian Prime Minister Inche Abdullah Badawi and Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Ong Keng Yong. Apart from colourful speeches from both Dr Rais and Rohana, dignitaries cut a cake modeled on the book. It was touching to watch Rohana present copies of her book to her father’s musical counterparts, divas of the Malay music world like Maria Menando and Julie Sudiro especially after we watched them in their heydays on the montage of film clips screened. Rohana said that the launch of the book in Malaysia represented closure for her and her family. It was a beautiful event that I felt privileged to witness with friends from the National Museum of Singapore.