Sunday, September 1, 2019

Who Wrote the Lyrics for Setia?

This year's National Day is celebrated with a Setia song by our Agong and Malaysia Cabinet. The Setia song which means loyalty is a song produced by RTM in 1987. The New Straits Times reported that the song was shown everyday that some regard the song as the second national anthem.

There are several parties that contributed in producing the patriotic song. Someone wrote the lyrics, someone wrote the melody, someone arranged the song, someone performed the song, someone recorded the song, and someone released the song.

Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, also known as Tok Mat, was appointed as the Information Minister in 1987. In an interview with Astro Awani, Habsah Hassan, a lyricist claimed that she was approached by Tok Mat to write a patriotic song. She submitted a sheet of lyrics to him.

Datuk Ahmad Dasillah, a former director of RTM Orchestra composed the music for Setia.

"After the song was prepared, I presented the song to (Tok Mat's) office. We sang the melody together," Ahmad said in an interview with Astro Awani.

Tok Mat was not satisfied with the lyrics and made several changes to the lyrics.

Francissca Peter was chosen as the singer for Setia. She was accompanied by a group of students. The song was recorded in a studio in Chow Kit and released.

Tok Mat considered the song a success that even non-Malays sing the song.

RTM credited Ahmad as the composer and Tok Mat as the lyricist. As the producer, RTM would be the copyright owner of Setia.

Habsah, in recent years found out that she was not credited as one of the co-author of Setia, even though she was the former Chairperson of Music Authors Copyright Protection (MACP).

Who wrote the lyrics for Setia? Tok Mat or Habsah?

Copyright protects expression of idea. Copyright protects the choice and arrangement of words used to express an idea. An analysis will need to be performed to separate ideas and expression of ideas in lyrics submitted by Habsah. A comparison of lyrics will then need to be performed if the expression of ideas remain in current Setia.

I have no intention to dispute the original lyrics of Setia. I don't have access to the development of lyrics.

I wish to point out problems faced by genuine talents in submitting ideas to the government. The government invites ideas and documents from the public. I am aware that the government reserves the right to accept and modify ideas submitted. I believe genuine talents would like their efforts to be acknowledged. Acknowledgement of talents is important to cultivate a healthy pool of genuine talents.

Selamat Hari Kebangsaan!
Dennis Tan

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