Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Irony of Bahasa Malaysia, Alleycats and Mister Zam

Rest in peace, Loga

Condolences to the members of Alleycats for the passing of its member Loganathan Arumugam who succumbed to lung cancer on Monday, 10.50 a.m. at Mount Miriam Hospital. He was 54, succeeded by a 23-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter, The Star reported.

I am not a fan (they were way past my time) but I would like to state my opinions and observations regarding the contributions of the band in Malaysia, be it music or nation-building.

Alleycats was particularly famous in the 1970s and 80s, with their trademark Afro big hair churning Malay pop hits such as "Sampaikan Salam" and "Andainya Aku Pergi Dulu". Group members include Loganathan Arumugam and David Arumugam on vocals, Tan Chin Hock on drums, Shunmugam Arumugam on lead guitar, Chester Anthony Passerella on saxophone, Khoo Fook Sin and Grenville on keyboards, Frank Ong on bass guitar.

The Penang-originated band is one of the great pioneers in the music progression of Malaysia. Other than producing songs sung in the national language (Bahasa Malaysia), Alleycats indirectly taught us to be blind of racial or religious "colours". The band is multi-racial (Chinese and Indians) and multi-religious. Their fans come from ALL races with a huge base in the Malay community. Ironically, the band was incepted in 1969. The same year, Malaysia experienced one of its worst period in history, the 13 May 1969 Racial Riot.

Mahaguru58 and Kay Stanford Jr Kastum paid tribute. Jeff Ooi dedicated an entry with their videos. Edmund Yeo (son of Alleycats producer Eric Yeo) wrote the article "R. I. P. Loga of Alleycats" and provided some links to their music.

Time passes so swiftly.

The success of Alleycats symbolise the potential unity of Malaysians. Despite not having any ethnic Malays in their band, they sang in Malay. Perhaps, they accept it honestly in their hearts that Bahasa Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians. I hope we are able to see multi-racial bands as such in the near future.

In memoriam, Loganathan Arumugam.

Bahasa Melayu "was" and "is" Bahasa Malaysia

Another irony on the same day that Loganathan passed away, Zainuddin Maidin, Information Minister declared that the name of the language "Bahasa Melayu" will be changed back to "Bahasa Malaysia".

The Malay language belongs to Malaysians of all races and not just the Malays. The term Bahasa Malaysia would instil a sense of belonging,” Zainuddin told The Star

That is perhaps, the only right thing Zainuddin has done compared to his sproutings over the past months regarding bloggers (attempts of classification, registration and mind-boggling statistics).

He further added, “It was generally accepted and no one asked for a change until (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim became the education minister (in 1986). He dropped the term Bahasa Malaysia for Bahasa Melayu and it has remained that way. But now, we feel we should go back to the original term,” he said.

Or maybe I should say, near right but not absolutely right.

I am a Malaysian who has never regarded Bahasa Malaysia as Bahasa Melayu "sahaja". I have never treated Bahasa Malaysia as a language not of my own. I believe people in the Alleycats band back in the 1970s would probably think like me.

Analysis on the Logic of Language Name Change

The Star article stated:
"In a unanimous decision last April, the Cabinet felt that reverting to the term Bahasa Malaysia would help inculcate a sense of belonging for all citizens irrespective of race, said Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin."

That would mean, to change the name "Bahasa Melayu" to "Bahasa Malaysia" requires a decision from the Cabinet. Using Zainuddin's logic, would that mean that there should also be a decision from the Cabinet to allow the change of "Bahasa Malaysia" to "Bahasa Melayu" back in 1986?

So, may I ask Zainuddin Maidin, why did the Cabinet, of which Barisan National (of UMNO = Malay, MCA = Chinese, MIC = Indian) is the ruling party blamed Anwar Ibrahim as if Anwar is solely responsible for the situation?

Even if it was not the Cabinet's decision, why didn't the UMNO, MCA and MIC Members of Parliament oppose the move in Parliament back in 1986? BN was still the ruling party way back since 1957 Independence.

Rustam Sani stated an apt statement in his Malaysia Today article that the ministers "sounded like a Columbus who claims to have just “discovered” America – whereas the truth of the matter is that the continent had already been discovered several times over by earlier discoverers such as Amerigo Vespucci."

Is the General Erection around the corner? Will such attempts work on the non-Malays? This leaves an area to be evaluated.


Huge Fan said...

You are right!! Alleycats is and will always be the best band in Malaysia!! And for once, the article did not forget to include Loga's and David's other brother Shunmugam, who was also the founder and lead guitarist of the band!! It seems that many have forgotten that Shunmugam was with the band for more than 3 decades!!

Kay Kastum said...

I was never a HUGE fan of Alleycats. But like it or not, most of us are actually influenced by those talented chaps. They are indeed legends.

Anonymous said...

coming from a family member of Loganathan, i would like to thank you all so much for how much you have thought about him.
i miss loganathan... but the alleycats still live on! forget them not!