Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ishak Haji Muhammad (14 November 1909 - 7 November 1991) or better known as Pak Sako was a prominent Malaysian writer, active in the 1930s until the 1950s. He was a nationalist and his involvement began before independence and continued thereafter. He fought for the idea of the unification of Melayu Raya where Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei are united in one collective.
The moniker Pak Sako was from the title 'Isako-san' given to him by the Japanese, which was the phonetic pronunciation of his name in the Japanese tongue. Ishak's other pseudonyms include Anwar, Hantu Raya (The Great Ghost), Isako San and Pandir Moden (The Modern-day Pandir)
1 Early life
2 Writings and politics
3 Utusan Melayu
4 Literature
5 Awards
6 Death
7 External links
8 References

Early life
Ishak was born in 1909 in Kampung Bukit Seguntang, Temerloh, Pahang and received his early education at the Kg. Tengah Malay School, Temerloh in 1919 and continued his education at the Clifford High School, Kuala Lipis from 1924 to 1928. He received his certificate of education from the Raub English School in 1929. In 1930, he went to the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) to train as an officer in the Malayan Civil Service. He held posts as Assistant Deputy District Officer, a Class III Magistrate and a language teacher before entering the literary scene.
Writings and politics
Ishak grew bored with his job as a British administrator and found the life of a British civil servant full of deception, favoritism and no interest in preserving the interests of the Malays who were said to have been given protection by the British. In 1934, he resigned from the Malayan Civil Service and travelled the peninsula Malaya. He later concentrated on nationalist literature and politics. He was imprisoned twice (1948-1953; 1965-1966).

Utusan Melayu
Ishak was the first with the idea to publish the Utusan Melayu (The Malay Post) newspaper and subsequently became the founder of the publication. He left Warta Malaya (Malayan Times) and travelled to Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu to campaign for the establishment of the Utusan Melayu Press. He worked at the paper under Abdul Rahim Kajai as editor. During the Japanese occupation of Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak, he became the editor of Berita Malai (Malayan News).
He continued to live in Hulu Langat even though he worked in Kuala Lumpur. He would take the public transport to office. For a while, he did have a Fiat when he was working in Rembau, but he did not drive and had to hire a driver.[1]

Ishak produced many novels, short stories, essays and memoirs as well as writing articles for the Utusan Melayu Group's newspapers. The National Library of Malaysia has, in their collection, more than 1,000 copies of his literary work.
His two most well-known works are Putera Gunung Tahan (The Prince of Mount Tahan) and Anak Mat Lela Gila (The Son of Crazy Mat Lela), which reflected his views and aspirations as a patriot and writer. They were satire novels aimed at the British and also were a critique of the British. Ishak placed importance on Malay culture in his writings and glorified Malay culture by comparing it to English culture which is said to lack quality and is too aggressive. He was also active in short story-writing.
Below is a sample of his other works:
Budak beca (Trishaw Boy). Marang: Mohamad bin A. Rahman, 1957
Judi karam (The Sunken Bet). Singapore: Geliga, 1958
Pengantin baru (The Newlyweds). Singapore: Geliga
In his later years, he was more known as a columnist in Utusan Malaysia and Gila-Gila (a local satire magazine).

As tribute for his contributions, the University of Malaya awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Literature on 29 June 1973. On 29 May 1976, Ishaak received the Pejuang Sastera (Literary Exponent) Award from the Prime Minister.

He died on 7 November 1991 at 5.40 am at his home in Kampung Bukit Raya, in Hulu Langat, Selangor. He was buried in his childhood village in Temerloh, after the Friday prayers, next to the graves of his parents, in accordance with his wishes.[1] He had been admitted to the Tawakal Hospital on 18 October after suffering from a stroke, and had just left the hospital for two weeks before he died. Earlier in the year, he had suffered another stroke and was admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital on 22 July. That attack left his right side paralyzed.[2]
As tribute, UMNO donated RM16,874.15 to his family at the close of its General Assembly that year. RM10,000 came from the UMNO headquarters while the remainder was contributed by its delegates during the assembly. It was presented by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to the Chief Minister of Pahang, Tan Sri Khalil Yaacob to be given to his family. [3]

External links

Harry Aveling, trans., Ishak Haji Muhammad: The Prince of Mount Tahan, Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books, (Asia), 1980.
Harry Aveling, trans., Ishak Haji Muhammad: The Son of Mat Mat Lela, Singapore: Federal Books, 1983.
Ishak Haji Muhammad, "Ilham Mencipta Putera Gunung Tahan", Dewan Sastera, April, 23, 1976.
^ "Jenazah disemadi selepas solat Jumaat", Berita Harian, 9 November 1991, p. 24
^ "Pak Sako meninggal dunia", Berita Harian, 8 November 1991, p. 1
^ "$16,874 untuk keluarga Pak Sako", Berita Harian, 11 November 1991, p. 2
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishak_Haji_Muhammad"

Monday, August 25, 2008

muhammad haji salleh

Against cultural conformity
Born in 1942 Muhammad Haji Salleh is one of Malaysia´s leading poets. For more than 30 years, through his poetry, translations and literary criticism and theory, as well as by publishing the magazine Tengara, a journal of Southeast Asian Literature, he has been contributing to the literary and cultural life of Malaysia. Openly rejecting conformity to western cultural patterns, his poems often refer to myths and legends of the Malay oral tradition. Haji Saleh lives with his family near Kuala Lumpur.
Muhammad Haji Salleh is one of Malaysia´s leading poets. Born in 1942 he studied in England and the USA, and since 1978 he has been a professor for Malaysian literature at the National University in Bangi near Kuala Lumpur. He has also made a name for himself as an essayist, cultural critic, translator and publisher of Tengara, a magazine for Southeast Asian literature.A central theme of his poems, written in Malay and English, is the conflict between town and countryside, between Malaysian and western culture. Openly rejecting conformity to western cultural patterns, his poems often refer to myths and legends of the Malay oral tradition, in which the genres are mixed quite differently to in the west. ´In the oral narrative one finds poems, stock phrases, dialogues, verse capping sessions, teasing and so on.´ Haji Salleh feels that these traditions are endangered by globalisation and the influence of the west. Though a poem of his is entitled Quiet Village, its quietness is not idyllic:"the inhabitants are too poor, too desiccated to care to talk...so they sit leaning against their houses´ stiltsfeeling the force of the new, grip... killing them one by one."In his poem a ´singapore sequence´ , a city like Singapore is above all ´people, traffic and concrete´ The humans are just another form of debris: ´the pavement is crowded by indifferent feet´ The poet, translator and professor has difficulties with city life not only in theory but also in practice, as he has explained in comparing life as a visiting professor at Leiden University with life in Kuala Lumpur: ´Here you have everything, in particular important manuscripts and excellent libraries, and the main thing is that everything is just around the corner. In Malaysia the situation is different. If I wish to go to the library, I have to get through traffic-jams, losing two hours on the way there and two hours on the way back. So much time is lost... Above all, here in Leiden there are more Malay manuscripts than in Malaysia, so here I am in just the right place for my studies.´ (www.iias.nl/iiasn/iiasn2/soueasia/europe.txt) For his literary work Muhammad Haji Salleh has received many awards like the honorary title National Writer, the highest one awarded in Malaysia.