Sudirman Arshad

Sudirman Arshad

Infobox Celebrity
name = Sudirman Hj Arshad

caption =
birth_date = birth date|1954|5|25|df=y
birth_place = Temerloh, Pahang,
death_date = death date and age|1992|2|22|1954|5|25|df=y
death_place = Lucky Garden, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur,
occupation = singer, actor, lawyer, writer
networth =
spouse =
website =

Sudirman Hj Arshad JMN AMN (25 May 1954 - 22 February 1992) was a Malaysian singer and a lawyer. He was known as the 'Singing Lawyer', the 'People Singer' and the 'Elvis of Malaysia'.


Early life

Sudirman was born on 25 May 1954 in Temerloh, Pahang and was the youngest child of 6 children born to Arshad Hassan and Ramlah Dahlan (the first stateswoman in Pahang during the 1950s). His passion for singing and entertaining started at a very young age. His brothers, sisters and neighbours would happily let him entertain them. After turning down a scholarship to further his studies in Science, he studied Law instead, and received his degree from the University of Malaya. He was called to the Bar and became a practising lawyer. He married Kamariah Jamaluddin in 1981 but divorced her 3 years later.


He was named 'Malaysia's Singing Ambassador' by Malaysia Tourism Development Board (MTDC). He was the voice behind the MTDC tune, "To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia" which was composed by American Emmy, Grammy and Oscar nominated singer and songwriter Carol Connors. He was referred to as the 'Singing Dynamite' by Singaporean journalists. His singing brought him standing ovations in Australia (in Sydney and Melbourne), Japan, Kuwait, and Hawaii including the United States.

He won many local competitions from Bintang RTM Best Singer (1976) to Muzik-Muzik TV3 Best Performer and Berita Harian Popularity contest Most Popular Artist. He topped Malaysian, Brunei and Indonesia charts with songs such as "Merisik Khabar", "Milik Siapakah Gadis Ini" and "Sampaikan Salam". Songwriters who have supported him in the past included S.A tan, Manan Ngah, Michael Veerapan and Syed Harun.

He was also the first Malaysian singer to perform at The Paddock at the Hilton of Kuala Lumpur and was the singing ambassador for companies such as Proton, Malaysia Airlines, Honda Cup and honored pioneer card member with Hong Leong Bank. He was known for his versatility and sang Malay, Indian and Chinese songs with outstanding choreography. He was known to have sketched the portrait of a fan while singing.

Local musicians who have played for him included Alex Boon, Jay Jay (singer guitarist), Hillary, Mac Chiew and Jenny Chin. Local famous women who have performed with him as his dancers (whom he refers them to as "The Girls")include Joanne (Zainal Abidin's wife), supermodel Samantha Schubert and Linda Jasmine Hashim (now one of the leading dancing choreographer cum teacher in Malaysia's famous reality TV program show, Akademi Fantasia).

However, Sudirman had his fair share of detractors as well as fans. Many Muslim fundamentalists & leftists detested his concert performances. Some even threatened and distributed warning pamphlets of "something would happen" during his Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Bangi concert to deter people from attending. The concert was postponed following protests from the UKM students union body, its academic staff association and the dean of the Islamic Studies faculty and six other student bodies. This incident was captured by Zainuddin Maidin (then journalist, now former Minister of Information) in his book "The Other side of Mahathir". He narrated that the Prime Minister (then) had called upon some ministers to his residence to review the situation as the issue reflected Malaysia's position in terms of modernization. Sudirman's fans turned up in force crowding the concert hall. Sudirman went about pleasing the crowd, crooning his hits. One campus resident said, "At last something alive has come here". The negativity surrounding the UKM incident was not long-lasting. The irony of it is that, a couple of years after Sudirman's death in 1992, UKM held a Sudirman karaoke competition.

He was also a writer; he wrote an autobiography "Dari Dalam Sudir", cartoons and weekly columns for magazines and some local newspapers such as for 'Karangkraf'. One of his books for children was recognized the Best by Mobil-Mabopa. (A Mobil Oil book writing competition. He also successfully hosted Malaysia's high TV program gameshow "Keluarga Bahagia Singer", a program sponsored by a home appliance company then called SINGER.

Sudirman produced an album for his nephew, Razman Azrai, under Sudirman Productions. Atai had a couple of hit songs that topped the charts in 1985. Sudirman also became Malaysia's first successful singer entrepreneur providing Malaysia's most famous carbonated drink SUDI (which broke 5% of carbonated drink market within 6 months operation - with business magazines and TV programs from Australia to Hong Kong featuring the drinks) and opened a franchise of Sudi Shoppe apparel and Sudi restaurant. He was Malaysia's first singer to be on the cover of "Malaysian Business" and "Asian Business" magazine. He had a business office atop the UBN Shangrila Tower and Sri Hartamas. He was also a champion for Malaysian music industry, playing the role of Vice President for Singers, Musicians & Composers Association of Malaysia - PAPITA.

Sudirman also acted in a film "Kami", which was released in 1982. He played the lead in a tale where two destitute orphans found each other amidst the Kuala Lumpur street life. This film also spawned a track, "Pelangi Petang" (Malay meaning "Evening Rainbow") which has been heralded as an iconic song in Malaysia's music industry.

In 15 April 1986, he held an open air concert on Chow Kit Road, which was the first time ever that a street concert drew a 100,000 person crowd on a Monday night. It jammed the stretch of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Raja Muda to Jalan Raja Alang. Several fans fainted, many left with fond memories, a few suffocated and were rushed to the hospital due to the crush of the crowd. To quote a local newspaper The Star, "KL came to a standstill and it had nothing to do with the recession but with a one man, Malaysia's top entertainer, an electrifying performance and most memorable night".

Simon Napier-Bell, the manager for "Wham!" (George Michael's band) referred to Sudirman as the 'institution of Malaysian music industry'.

Sudirman's songs topped the charts with every new album that was released. There was a time when his song "Merisik Khabar" went up as #1 song for 2 months while his second song "Milik Siapa Gadis Ini" from the same album came in second and stayed at the top for a few weeks after "Merisik Khabar"

In 1989, Sudirman won the title "Best Performer" in Asia Music Award 1989 contest at Royal Albert Hall, London where Leslie Cheung (Hong Kong Megastar), Anita Sarawak (Singapore Diva), Epo (Japan), Kuh Ledesma s (Philippines) and many other chosen singers (based on their merit) who represented their own respective countries. An information officer at the Malaysia High Commission, Revi Pilla, said he still remembers going to the Royal Albert Hall in 1989 when the late Sudirman Haji Arshad performed at the Salem Music Awards.“I went to see Sudir with other Malaysian friends. It was such a great atmosphere. We were so proud." The crowd that filled the room was mostly made up of Asian fans skewed mainly towards residents of Hong Kong and Singapore, but Sudirman won ther hearts to a point where they cheered for Sudirman as if he were theirs.

He was known by many in the 80s as "Malaysia's No 1 Entertainer". Naturally he was chosen to perform for Malaysia's SEA Games closing ceremony and many others such as the opening ceremony of Sepak Takraw competition, Merdeka, New Year and other national functions. In most cases, he would use his own money to make his concert successful. He is also well known for his charity work where he helped invite veteran artists ton have a slot singing in his shows. Money charity for mosque and people in need is something he would do willingly. During his life he had also adopted and brought up an Indian boy from a poor family and he would actively seek charity work through PAPITA (Malaysian Singer Association)

In Singapore he had a strong following as was seen when he made a concert in Singapore's Kallang National Stadium in August 1987. Girls and even moms were biting their knuckles and people came from all walks of life and races. Kelvin Tan Look Siew Director of Singapore Armed Forces Music & Drama company said "We wanted to bring down a prominent artist from the region and Sudirman's name automatically cropped up".

EMI London took him on to work together with Stock, Aitken & Waterman (British producer trio who took on Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Rick Astley) for world market with a sing titled "Love will Find a Way". He was brought to The Beetle's famous Abie road studios and recorded the album but time was not on his side.


Sudirman was rumored to have died from AIDS as it was a hot topic in the 80s and others insisted that it was witchcraft; the Ministry of Health required that all deaths resulting from AIDS be recorded as such. However, no such record is registered with the Ministry. The cause of his death became a topic of discussion among the media with some speculating that his actual cause of death took place even earlier than recorded and was believed that he was buried in the UK. His sister and Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (then lawyer, now former Minister of Home Affairs) announced that he died as a result of a cerebrovascular stroke.

He died at 4.00 am 22 February 1992, aged 37, at his sister’s (Datin Radiah) house, at No. 16 Lorong Taban Satu, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

He was brought back for burial in his hometown Temerloh, Pahang and was buried at Chengal Muslim Cemetery, Temerloh near the graves of his parents.

After Sudirman's Era

His work was recognized by the industry when he was posthumously awarded an AIM (Anugerah Industri Muzik) award and a street was named Jalan Sudirman after him in his hometown of Temerloh. PAPITA created an award especially categorized under his name Anugerah Sudirman of which to this date has yet to be won by anyone.

However, in April of 2006, the Malaysian parliamentary member from Sri Gading ("Datuk Mohamed Aziz" - "BN") commented that he regarded Sudirman as a mediocre singer and that he "could not even take on the member of parliament himself." [ [ Prahara Seni - pengumpul berita seniman M.Nasir: Isu banding P. Ramlee lucu - M. Nasir ] ]

His achievements

*Penghibur TV Terbaik, Anugerah Seri Angkasa, RTM 1978
*"Malaysia's Singing Ambassador" MTDC 1985 ("To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia")
*Persembahan Terbaik Anugerah Juara Lagu TV3 1987
*Penyanyi Lelaki Popular, Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian 1989
*Asia's Number One Performer 1989 . Salem Music Award London
*Malaysia Guinness Awards
*Ahli Mangku Negara by Yang di-Pertuan Agong 1988
*Ahli Mahkota Pahang by Sultan of Pahang 1990
*Johan Mangku Negara by Yang di-Pertuan Agong 1992
*No. 1 Malaysian singer (from New Straits Times )

Famous quotes

"Title is not the measurement of a man but by his contribution" - Sudirman

"The dimunitive singer's popularity has gone from strength to strength, and he has visited almost every town in Malaysia, thrilling audiences with his dramatic stage act." - Patrick Teoh

"If Malaysia ever needs "people power", Sudirman can be counted to deliver." - Malay Mail

"He now knows where he can go if he tires of Malaysia". - The Straits Times, Singapore

"Im proud to be a part of Atai's album. He's something else and has a bright future." - Jenny Chin

"I feel very saddened for the loss of someone who has blossomed the country in the entertainment world. His loss will be felt by the whole nation because during his lifetime he was loved by so many." - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad


*Kami (1982)


Major albums

*Teriring Doa (1977)
*Aku Penghiburmu (1978)
*Perasaan (1979)
*Anak Muda (1980)
*Lagu Anak Desa (1980)
*Lagu Dari Kota (1981)
*Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star (1981)
*Lagu Cinta (1982)
*Abadi (1982)
*Images (1983)
*Orang Baru (1984)
*Lagu Dari Sebuah Bilik (1984)
*Kul It (1986)
*Orang Kampung (1986)
*Asia’s No. 1 Performer (1989)
*Salam Terakhir (1992) "(Last albums)"
*Sudirman - Jauh Di Sudut Hati (1992)
*Sudirman - Balik Kampung (1993)
*Sudirman - Setelah Kau Tiada (1995)

Compilation albums

*Koleksi 16 Lagu-lagu Terbaik (1986)
*Pilihan Sentimental Emas (1987)
*Lagu-Lagu Rakyat (1989)
*Koleksi Klasik (1991)
*Sudirman - DwiDekad (1996)
*Nilai Cintamu (2000)
*Sudirman - 24 Greatest Hits
*Sudirman No.1 (2002)
*Sudirman Penghibur No.1 (2002)
*Sudirman II 40 No.1 Dalam 1 (2003)
*Memori Hit Sudirman (2004)
*Sudirman - Memori Sentimental Hit (2005)
*Sudirman -Dwi Intan
*Sudirman - Timeless (2006)
*Koleksi Emas Aidilfitri
*Alunan Sukma Sudirman & Sharifah Aini
*Memori Hit Melayu Deli


# Tanggal 31 Ogos
# Tegakkan Bendera Kita
# Apa Khabar Orang Kampung
# Adat Berkasih
# Ayah
# Ayah dan Ibu
# Antara Hujan dan Air mata
# Air Mata Kasih
# Anak Dagang
# Aku Pengangur
# Basikal Tua
# Berpisah Akhirnya
# Balik Kampung
# Berdendang Anak Dara
# Biarlah ku sengsara sendiri
# Bila wajahmu kubayangkan
# Bimbang Terluka lagi
# Cinta
# Chow Kit Road
# Dilema Dunia Cinta
# Dia Tiada Lagi
# Dari Jauh Ku Pohon Maaf
# Di manakah nilai cintamu
# Gadis Impian
# Gerimis
# Hujan
# Hujan Semalam
# Hanya Nyanyian
# Hati Rindu
# Hilang Berganti
# Image
# Jali-jali
# Jauh di sudut Hati
# Jangan Kau Curiga
# Jangan Kau Tanya
# Joget Kenangan Manis
# Kasih
# Kawin Lari (Ding A Ding Gale)
# Ku Pandu Laju (Bersalah)
# Ke Dunia Baru
# Ketenangan Jiwa
# Kerana Mata
# Kesian Dia
# Kuala Deli
# Kehadiranku
# Kau akan Kembali
# Kul It
# Sebuah Cinta dan Harapan
# Sengsara Sendiri
# Mari Bergembira
# Merisik Khabar
# Mat Disko
# My Morning Star
# One Day in Your Life
# One Thousand Million Smiles
# Orang Muda
# Patah Hati
# Pujaan Hatiku
# Pelita Hati
# Pelangi Petang
# Pesan Abang
# Pulang Dari Kilang
# Punch Card
# Salam Terakhir "(Last song)"
# Sepetang di Pinggir Bukit
# Selagi Hayatku Ada
# Selamat Malam Sayang
# Sengsara Sendiri
# Sri Sarawak
# Terasing
# Tetapkan Hatimu
# Tak Perlu Diucapkan
# Teratai Menjelma
# Toyol
# Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
# Warisan
# You Walk away with Nothing
# Untukmu
# Namamu Seindah Wajahmu
# Hari Itu Dalam Kenangan

See also



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