Sunday, 15 July 2012

Radio Malaya

Radio Malaya
Radio dan Televishen Malaysia (RTM)


Datuk Haji Zainul Alam (5 March 1926-12 December 1991)

  • Senior RTM broadcaster in Penang during WW2
  • Penang Wireless Party, HQ at Penang Radio Station
  • He was a member and the radio announcer for the Malay section, managing the news and song requests. 

Malay radio announcers after WW2:
  1. Suffian bin Hashim
  2. Ismail bin Ali
  3. Inche Mustapha bin Che Ismail
  4. Inche Idris bin Ahmad

Mass Media 1900-1936

Radio in Malaya
- radios were not saleable items in British Malaya
- there were no radio broadcasting station in the 2,000-mile radius of Singapore
- Singapore was a dead spot
- Amateur Wireless Society of British Malaya operated an experimental station in Singapore
- Penang had no broadcasting station
- the Malayan Broadcasting Service (Ltd.) had a 5-year licence
- to erect a main radio station in KL immediately, and 2 relay stations later
- Penang was a free port for radio apparatus
- potential radio customers were limited to 4,000 Europeans and 25,000 wealthy Chinese and Eurasians; the population at the time was 1,250,000.
TSFPMA 31Dec1927 p8


Send-Off For Malay Announcers
The Straits Times, 3 September 1946, Page 5

Two young Malay radio announcers, Inche Mustapha bin Che Ismail and Inche Idris bin Ahmad Shah, who are going to England early next week to broadcast B.B.C. news in Malay, were given a tea-party by Utusan Melayu at the G. H. Cafe yesterday.

Both Inche Idris and Inche Mustapha are at present Malay announcers with Radio Malaya. They were attached to the R.N.V.R. during the war and broadcast to Malaya over the All-India Radio and also from Ceylon.

Two of their colleagues, Suffian bin Hashim and Ismail bin Ali, who have been with the B.B.C. since the liberation, are returning to Singapore shortly.


Radio dan TV Malaysia (RTM) had its beginnings in 1946, before the Malayan Independence. Radio Malaya was a big thing before the TV came to Malaysia. I first watched a B/W TV in 1963.

Gus Steyn composed patriotic songs for Malaysia.

Alfonso Soliano composed patriotic songs and Negara Ku, the national anthem.

Datuk Jimmy Boyle @ Penang Boy, introduced jazz to Malaysia.

Tan Sri Dol Ramli was a close friend of Datuk Dr Haji Abbas bin Haji Alias, an early Malay doctor, even in their old age.

Tan Sri Ahmad Merican's name was mentioned by his relatives. He was in radio before the Japanese war.

Datuk Johari Salleh composed some songs. His daughter was in my elder sister's class at Malacca Girls' High School at Durian, Daun in Malacca circa 1972-1974.


External links:

Radio Malaya. Photo from Penang Museum.

Radio Malaya. Photo from Penang Museum.

The Armenians and Jews of Penang

These are from the Penang Museum and my collection.


Photo from Penang Museum.


A gallery in Penang Museum that displays information about the Jews in Penang

Photo from Penang Museum

Text for the photo above, from Penang Museum. The text explains the origin of the Jews who came to early Penang.

E&O Hotel, Georgetown, Penang

Photo from Penang Museum

Close-up of E&O Hotel. Photo from Penang Museum

The E&O Hotel, Georgetown, Penang. 2012. Photo by me.

The E&O Hotel, Georgetown, Penang. 2012. Photo by me.

Jewish Graves in Penang

All my professors in California and Perth were either Jews or Christians. It is hard to tell the Jews from the Christians because they can be mistaken for Christians. It is not known whether Jews can become Christians and then become Muslims. Jews, Christians and Muslims have similar names but different spellings. Common names are Abdul Rahman, Yahya, Aaron, Jacob, etc.

From what I understand of history, the Dutch East India Company seamen were Jews. They landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Malacca. Malacca was Dutch Jew for a long time. Then the British took over from the Dutch and built the churches in Malacca, mostly the Protestant churches. There is no Dutch church as they were Jews. The Dutch Jewish graves should be plenty in Malacca. Today, the mixed Asian Jews are not known as Jews but by another name, some are 'Christians' but have Jewish surnames. However, most of the Jews found in Malaysia are Indians but have Jewish names.

Malaysia forbids Jews from entering into the country as it is an Islamic country. However, the Jews can state 'Christian' for their religion in their passports and visit Malaysia. They can also hold 2 passports - Israel, Iran, USA or UK, and can therefore come to Malaysia.

The Jews consume koshered food. This was aired on Malaysian TV (ASTRO) some time back this year. It was a documentary about the Jews in the Bronx and their livelihood. They wore gloves when handling food at the deli. They worked and owned farms. The one showed was mainly about country life. But we know the Jews are also in academia, banking, military, governments, hoteliers, music industry, etc world wide.

Malaysia hired a very good musician - Gus Steyn, who was a Jew. He worked with Orkestra RTM and composed some of the most beautiful songs played in Malaysia. I remember playing some of his songs on my own piano when I lived in Kelantan between 1969 and 1971. After Gus Steyn (Gustaaf Nicolaas Steyn), we had Alfonso Soliano, who also composed some of the most beautiful songs for Malaysia. In the mid-1970s, there was Irving Berlin in the USA and his beautiful musical scores, which were adapted for the electric organ.

There was still a Jewish community in Penang when I started work at USM in Penang in 1982. When we started the USM medical school in 1979, we had two Jewish lecturers. One was a lecturer in Immunology and the other in Community Medicine. They have both left before the medical school moved to Kelantan in May 1990. The one in Immunology was Prof. Peter Simmons; he already passed away. He was instrumental in setting up the Dept of Immunology for the USM medical school. The other one returned to USA and I don't know whether he is still alive or not. His name is Stephen Wheeler King. Both were very good lecturers.

Gravestone inscriptions point to a lot about our past. Someone wrote on 15 July 2012 to ask about the Jewish graves in Penang. I will help out here at my blog since I have lived in many places including Malacca and Penang. I am familiar with some of the graves but not all the graves.

Jewish Cemetery
Yahudi Road/Jalan Yahudi --> Jalan Zainal Abidin