Sarawak poet, literary figure honoured at book awards
By Jude Toyat
If you want to be a good writer, you must enjoy reading as much as you do writing.
“Read, read, read, think and interact with people. These are the ingredients which will make you a good writer,” said the recipient of ‘Tokoh Penulis Sarawak’ Datu Dr Adi Badiozaman Tuah when met by The Borneo Post SEEDS recently at the inaugural Sarawak Book Awards.
“I feel honoured to be presented with this award. It means a lot as it is in itself a recognition and acknowledgement of my contribution in the realm of literary development in Sarawak, not only as a writer but also as a literary individual who has contributed to the establishment and development of many Malay language and literature related organisations,” said the 65-year-old who is a prominent figure in the Sarawak writing scene.
He is responsible for organisations like Persatuan Bahasa dan Sastera Sarawak (Pebas), Persatuan Penulis Utara Sarawak (Putera), Rumpun Seni Drama Sarawak (Rusda), Gabungan Persatuan Penulis Sarawak (GPPS), Medan Teater Sarawak (Mantera), and recently the P Ramlee Fan Club Sarawak (KPPRS).
Dr Adi, who is also a member of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Board of Governors, has produced five books in total, with an emphasis in poetry writing and essays on education, culture and language and literature.
Hailing from Tatau, his interest in writing started during his school days in Tanjong Lobang, mostly writing poetry.
“I took English literature for my O Levels and Malay Literature during my university years. I also taught Malay Literature in schools as a teacher, and tutored Diploma of Education students the art and science of teaching literature when I was a tutor in the Faculty of Education, University of Malaya,” he said.
His first compilation of poems was entitled ‘Lagu Malam’.
“Meanwhile, my first poem that was nationally acknowledged was ‘Gratitude’, a poem dedicated to a sweet girl who later became my wife,” said Dr Adi of the poem that won him the Piala Pungguk for winning the Pertandingan Menulis Sajak Remaja in 1974.
Besides ‘Lagu Malam’, other individual poems written by Dr Adi included ‘Puisi Buat Mama’, ‘Penziarah Waktu’, with his other poems also being inserted in several collection of poems along with some other national writers.
He was the first Sarawakian to receive the Hadiah Sastera Kebangsaan award for poetry in 1975 for his poem ‘Penagih Sepi’. Apart from that, he also received the same award in 2003, Hadiah Sastera Sarawak (Puisi) in 1995, Hadiah Aktivis Sastera Sarawak in 1997, and Hadiah Sastera Sarawak (Drama) in 1998, among others.
Being a prominent figure in the Sarawak writing scene for more than a decade, Dr Adi said that he has always been inspired by nature and the people around him help provide the right kind of creative environment which triggers his desire and enthusiasm to write.
“I love writing because it provides me with the avenue to freely express my thoughts and feelings. It is a passport to freedom of some sort,” he said.
Despite the freedom, there are also many challenges that he faces being in the writing scene.
“Time has always been the most challenging factor in determining when and how to write.
“Being fully involved in many managerial, administrative and leadership roles and chores, there are times when I find it difficult to actually sit down, reflect, plan, think and write,” he added.
When asked on the development of the book industry and the writing scene in Sarawak and in Malaysia as a whole, Dr Adi said that the response had become more encouraging.
“Books used to be the main means of communicating ideas, knowledge and experiences between writers and the reading public, be they academic or creative work.
“Now, we have other media which can play similar roles, and in some cases can play them more effectively, especially the multimedia, where both the audio and visual presentation are more appealing as well as more attractive compared to print media,” said Dr Adi, who loves all types of books, creative as well as knowledge or research-based books.
He also pointed out that there will be ample opportunity for the book industry to grow as “more and more people are seriously and creatively involved in making books more reader-friendly and the dissemination of knowledge more suited to the life in the fast lane.”
Make the best use of the time and talent which God Almighty has given for the betterment of our selves, our families, our society and mankind: That is the life motto that Dr Adi has been holding on to until today.
“I hope that I can continue to read, learn new things and if time permits, write poetry and direct stage performances,” he added.
Dr Adi received the award at the inaugural Sarawak Book Awards held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) from the Head of State’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Ragad Kurdi Taib.
The award ceremony organised in conjunction with World Book Day honoured seven deserving personalities in the Sarawak writing scene. Besides Dr Adi, other recipients who received their distinctive awards include Dr Jeniri Amir (Tokoh Buku Sarawak), Roslan Jamel (Pengarang Prolifik), Zainal Abidin Suhaili (Buku Puisi Terbaik – Membentuk Elok di Teluk Esok), Radzemah Bolhassan (Novelis Popular), Jong Chian Lai (Novel Terbaik – Ah Fook), and Hamsurie Waslie (Penjilid Buku Terbaik – The House of Book Bindery).
Nineteeen books of various genres written by 14 Sarawakian writers and published at the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books were also launched at the ceremony. They include Rosani Hiplee with his book entitled ‘Membusur Jantung Bidadari dan Titik’, Roslan Jamel (Di Dalam Mulutnya Ada Kota), Jong Chian Lai (Seorang Seekor Lelaki), Dahiri Saini (Nyonya Tembikai dan Sayap), Benyamin Matussin (Ladang Sukma), Jais Sahok (Maafkan Aku Ya Tuhan, and Libau Rentap Bukan Penyerahan dan Rongkok), Jemat Gani (Setelah Hadirku), Dr Jeniri Amir (Menulis Biografi dan Masyarakat Melanau di Sarawak), Mohd Ali Salim (Rebahnya Pohon Rambutan), Radzemah Bolhassan (Sejadah Ibadah), Yong Chan Fwu (Insan Mulia), Dr Poline Bala (Masyarakat Kelabit), Nur Ilyani Alias (Buntal Pisang), and Jaya Ramba (Pendekar Rimba).
During the award giving ceremony held in conjunction with the Sarawak Book Expo organised by the National Book Development Foundation (YPBN) at BCCK from March 16 to 20, ten finalists for the Telenovela Awards were also announced by the deputy prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Utama Hamidah Khamis.
The awards will be presented in Kuala Lumpur in June as part of the National Book Awards 2016 that aimed at acknowledging and rewarding writers of the books that were adapted into television series. For more information on the National Book Awards 2016, visit https://www.facebook.com/ekspobukumalaysia and www.facebook.com/bookaward.