P. Ramlee and Sudirman Haji Arshad

These two giants are and were MALAYSIANS, who lived that life and propagated that 1 Malaysia concept decades ago, and what a powerful way they did it, through Entertainment.

By Mann Leonski

Dear Mr Editor Sir,

My name is Mr. Mann Leonski and am an expatriate living and consulting here in Malaysia, for the past 7 years, since 2003 to be correct.

Firstly, please allow me to wish you and your team a Happy New Year, 2011.

Malaysia Today is probably and arguably the best thing to happen for Malaysia to go forward and your unflinching dedication in keeping this now Malaysian Institution despite all the obstacles and harassment by the authorities, speak volumes about your resolve and strength, and please continue the wonderful work that you do … special mention to Mr. Raja Petra (RPK …, probably Malaysia’s answer to the character and like of the Martin Luther Kings, the Nelson Mandelas and all the other freedom and democracy advocates the world over … though I would personally like to see more Entertainment news, but don’t worry about it, its just my personal opinion.

Secondly, I am not particularly fond of writing but I feel I am compelled to do so in this case as I believe that it concerns Malaysians and it is with regards to the most heard clarion call in Malaysia right now, which is the 1 MALAYSIA concept, as initiated by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

This has to do with what most of us generally go through, that we almost always do not know and appreciate what we have until we have lost them (it).

What I am relating to are the talents of the Asia’s best Actor in the 60’s the late P. Ramlee and more recently, though almost 2 decades ago, Asia’s Best Performer, the late Sudirman Haji Arshad. These two giants are and were MALAYSIANS, who lived that life and propagated that 1 Malaysia concept decades ago, and what a powerful way they did it, through Entertainment. As History
has proven, even decades later, we audiences are still moved by what they did to entertain us, something so very sorely lacking, almost non-existent really, in this fast moving “instant noodle, I want it and I want it now world”.

There is practically no one here who is even remotely close to Ramlee and Sudirman in terms of what they did and achieved, and believe me when I say that as I have watched and followed Malaysian movies, theatre, music and other forms of Entertainment very closely in the past seven or so years.

You see, Mr. Editor, I just happened to catch P. Ramlee’s extremely well produced documentary on the History channel and Sudirman’s moving and emotional story on the Bio channel. And oh boy, I just can’t believe these 2 talents were actually Malaysians. They were above and beyond world class … they would have been so appreciated in Hollywood, the Entertainment capital of the world. Only their Creator would have known what they could have gone on to achieve if they were born in the USA. Arguably, they could have gone on to being Global Icons in the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson, Humprey Bogart, Marlon Brando etc. etc.

When I caught those two on TV, I was moved and very curious to find out more about these 2 great entertainment giants; and I was literally blown away by what I had seen, but deeply saddened that it took a foreign network like BIO to highlight their stories, almost after 3 decades, and how they both passed on under such tragic circumstances – P. Ramlee with no food in his house on the day of his passing and Sudirman under such mysterious circumstances.

And when I went to Google their names I found out more about what these two Giants (unfortunately, thre is no one right now that comes even remotely close to them as far as artistry is concerned, and I say this because I used to live in California and believe me, I have reasonable knowledge on entertainment talent.)

What I dug up, though not comprehensively, but after digging up further information and speaking to my Malaysian colleagues, I found out that, yes, they were in fact the pioneers of what personally represented the 1 Malaysia concept as I noticed that they
infused elements from most of the major and diverse races in their movies and shows, especially Sudirman, with his very original Malaysian Flag and head gear outfit. Even Michael Jackson, may he rest in peace, was arguably not as patriotic and from what I hear, most of his songs and performances always incorporated social themes and apparently he could sing in Chinese and Tamil,
besides English and his Bahasa Malaysia.

I would like to suggest that these two iconic figures be used more regularly to influence and educate the people of Malaysia on what National unity means as I believe that despite being launched almost 2 years ago, I have yet to see any propaganda on that topic come anywhere close to what P. Ramlee and Sudirman propagated through their talents. Entertainment is a very, very powerful tool as we all know that it is America’s number 2 export to the world after Aerospace. Which region in the globe does not carry American Movies, TV, Music, Entertainment, News etc, etc?

It would be such a waste to just let what they did rest in the archives and annals of Malaysian history collecting dust, and I would like to suggest proper documented websites and Memorial days to be dedicated to these two Giants for current and future Entertainers and the general public at large to learn from and continue the deep and diverse cultures of Malaysia, to remind Malaysians of what they had and what they can continue to have. As the saying goes, we don’t know what we have until it is taken away from us.”.

P. Ramlee and Sudirman were certainly sent by our Creator and we Malaysians (I can consider myself Malaysian as I have grown to love the sambal belacan, durian, nasi lemak, roti canai, teh tarik, Hainan chicken rice, Cantonese noodles, etc) and the world at general at how we can, though we have our differences, accept these differences and we can coexist and cherish our similarities.

I hope to see more of these two Giants and their works and congratulations to BIO and History channels for doing such a great job in documenting the legacy of these two irreplaceable and incredible talents.

Thank you and here’s wishing all Malaysia Today staff and readers a happy, joyful, prosperous and healthy 2011 and beyond.

Most sincerely,
Mann Leonski
Desa Sri Hartamas
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia