Abdul Ghani Abdul Hamid



Abdul Ghani Abdul Hamid (b. 13 April 1933, Singapore–d. 13 April 2014, Singapore) was an award-winning writer, poet and artist.1 Writing primarily in Malay, A. Ghani Hamid, as he was commonly known, had hundreds of poems, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and plays to his name.2 As a painter, he had participated in more than 60 exhibitions since 1950.3 He was a founding member of Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD, or Artists of Various Resources) and the recipient of three prestigious literary awards: Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang (1998), Southeast Asia Write Award for Malay Poetry (1998) and the Cultural Medallion (1999).4

Early life
A. Ghani was educated in both Malay and English, first at Telok Kurau English School and then Raffles Institution.5 As a student, he wrote compositions and kept a journal. In Raffles Institution, he began contributing poems and articles to Malay newspapers and magazines. A. Ghani recalled how he walked from Raffles Institution, which was then located at Bras Basah, to a Malay publishing house nearby on North Bridge Road to collect a payment of $5 for the past week’s work. It was also during his time at Raffles Institution when he had his first art exhibition as part of the Youth Festival.6


Artistic pursuits
Upon graduation, A. Ghani held a fulltime job as a clerk with the Public Utilities Board for 33 years. Despite working fulltime and becoming a father to four children, he managed to write during his free time, usually between nine in the evening to midnight on weekdays. On weekends, he attended to his other love painting. His efforts resulted in an oeuvre of poems described as “deeply metaphysical”, and abstract paintings. A. Ghani said that he typically “transfer[red] the same feeling from my poetry to my paintings”,7 and hence it was not unusual for his writing and paintings to have similar subjects and titles.8

Besides writing and painting, A. Ghani was also an active member in the local arts scene.9 In 1962, he founded the Malay arts group, APAD, which achieved much success under his leadership.10 In addition, under the pen name of Lazuardi, he created a comic strip in the 1970s known as Mat Dalang, which was featured in the Sunday newspaper Berita Minggu and other Malay magazines.11

In a 1998 interview, A. Ghani said, “Writers and entrepreneurs need to make sacrifices, if they want Malay literature to reach greater heights. One cannot be thinking of returns all the time.” It was with this mindset that he used his Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang (awarded by the Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura, or Malay Language Council of Singapore) cash prize of S$7,000 to “contribute further to society” by publishing his play Wak Cantuk.12

Donation to the National Library Board
In 2007, A. Ghani signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Library Board to donate selected pieces from his personal collection on Malay literature and arts in the region.13

Death
A. Ghani succumbed to pneumonia and passed away on 13 April 2014, his 81st birthday.14

Dramas
1971:
Pengembara, a dance drama based on poem of the same title.

1973: Wak Cantuk, by Perkumpulan Seni.
1978: Cincin Bukan Ikatan, a pantomime based on poem of the same title.
1980: Desa Ini Hatiku, Drama Festival, Singapore.
1982: Berburu di Padang Datar, Drama Festival, Singapore.
1988: Wak Cantuk, 32nd Anniversary of Perkumpulan Seni, Singapore.15
1992: Sejambak Ragam Hayat, 25-part radio drama, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.16
1994: Enrique Anak Melayu, Perkumpulan Seni, Singapore.17

Milestones and awards
1948: First articles and poems appear in Hiboran magazine.
1964: Jalinan Rasa (Weave of Feelings), his first anthology of poems, is published
1973: First English poem published in New Nation.18
1980: Hadiah Sastera (Literary Prize), Jawatankuasa Hadiah Sastera, Singapore.19
1996: Poem, “Nilai” (Values), displayed as part of Poems on the MRT series.
1998: Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang, Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura.
1998: Southeast Asian Write Award for Malay Poetry.20
1999: Cultural Medallion (Literature), Singapore.
1998: Jasamu Dikenang, Majlis Kebudayaan Negeri Melaka & Jawatankuasa Minggu Sastera, Malacca, Malaysia.21
2003: Gold Medal, Federation of Art Societies, Singapore.22



Authors

Nureza Ahmad & Shah Alam bin Mohd Zaini



References
1. Toh, Y. C. (2014, April 14). Malay literary pioneer dies on 81st birthday. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Award- winning Malay writer donates works to National Library. (2007, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 46; Toh, Y. C. (2014, April 14). Malay literary pioneer dies on 81st birthday. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Award- winning Malay writer donates works to National Library. (2007, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Toh, Y. C. (2014, April 14). Malay literary pioneer dies on 81st birthday. The Straits Times, p. 3; Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2; Tuminah Sapawi. (1999, September 25). Writer, artist given Cultural Medallion. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Toh, Y. C. (2014, April 14). Malay literary pioneer dies on 81st birthday. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tuminah Sapawi. (1998, March 12). In tough times, turn to art. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board, pp. 53–54. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK); Halil, R. (1999, June 27). Karya-puisi Singapura 1995–99 mendedahkan pebagai persoalan. Berita Minggu, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. A. Ghani Hamid. (2000). Breeze 2000: 6th solo art exhibition. Singapore: Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya, [n.p.]. (Call no.: RART 759.95957 ABD)
11. Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tuminah Sapawi. (1998, March 12). In tough times, turn to art. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Award-winning Malay writer donates works to National Library. (2007, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Toh, Y. C. (2014, April 14). Malay literary pioneer dies on 81st birthday. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Daud Yusof. (2014, April 13). Literary & visual arts pioneer Abdul Ghani Hamid dies. Today. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
15. Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board, p. 53. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK)
16. A. Ghani Hamid. (2003). Ombak terbang tinggi (200 puisi pilihan, 1955–2000). Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 252. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.281 ABD); Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board, p. 53. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK)
17. Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board, p. 53. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK)
18. Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. A. Ghani Hamid. (2003). Ombak terbang tinggi (200 puisi pilihan, 1955–2000). Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 256. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.281 ABD)
20. Oon, C. (1999, September 25). I take a bus to think and write. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Leksikon: Direktori penulis Melayu Singapura pasca 1965. (2005). Singapore: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50: National Library Board, pp. 53, 56. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.280255957 LEK); A. Ghani Hamid. (2003). Ombak terbang tinggi (200 puisi pilihan, 1955–2000). Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 256. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.281 ABD)
22. A. Ghani Hamid. (2003). Ombak terbang tinggi (200 puisi pilihan, 1955–2000). Singapura: Angkatan Sasterawan ’50, p. 256. (Call no.: Malay RSING 899.281 ABD)



Further resources
Chia, A. (2011, December 5). Art through eyes and heart. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Nanda, A. (2014, April 15). Prominent writer a Renaissance man. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Poets
Cultural Medallion Recipients (Literature)
Authors, Malay--Singapore--Biography
A. Ghani Hamid (Abdul Ghani Hamid), 1933-
Artists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Malay writers
Award winners
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Arts>>Literature>>Malay Literature
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Singapore literature
Literature
Award winners--Singapore--Biography