Singers Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and Noraniza Idris remember revered composer Pak Ngah who died yesterday.
Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Zain, fondly known as Pak Ngah, passed away from a heart attack at about 3pm in Batam, Indonesia. He was 60.
Pak Ngah is best known for crafting irama Malaysia tunes such as Cindai and Balqis for Siti and Awallah Dondang and Dikir Putri for Noraniza.
“He was one of the first few people who were with me when I started singing traditional songs. He helped me a lot in my singing career. I see him as family,” Siti said in a statement.
“This is a big loss to the music industry. He was the father of irama Malaysia. He composed so many great songs and I hope his songs will live on even though he is now gone.”
Siti last collaborated with Pak Ngah in 2016 on her Hari Raya single, Hari Kemenangan.
In a phone interview with Star2, Noraniza describes Pak Ngah as “strict and a workaholic yet cared for us and fed us like we were his children.”
She adds Pak Ngah knew how to compose a song that suited the singer’s voice perfectly. “I felt very comfortable working with him.”
Noraniza recalls the last time she met Pak Ngah. “It was April this year. I invited him to be a judge on (traditional dance competition) Tingkah Geruh, which I was a part of. He told me he loved what I was doing and offered to help me take the competition to the Asean level the following year.”
“‘He said, ‘don’t worry about how much it will cost. I will help you with it.’ He very was serious about it, which made me realise how sincere he was about elevating our traditional dance and music scene.”
Fighting back tears, Noraniza says she will continue championing Pak Ngah’s cause. “I feel a sense of responsibility to help him fulfill his dream. I want to organise a tribute concert for him. And I will help groom the artistes who were under him to the best of my abilities.”
Born in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Pak Ngah first learned to play the guitar as a kid. In 1977, he joined Kompleks Budaya Negara (KBN) as a musician and enrolled in traditional music classes where he learned to play ghazal and gambus.
In 1995, he formed his own production company, Pak Ngah Production Sdn. Bhd. He first worked with Noraniza, on her 1997 album, Ala Dondang, which was a massive success, going five times platinum and selling 250,000 units by 2000.
Two years later, he worked with Siti on her first irama Malaysia album, Cindai. The title track would go on to become one of Siti’s most recognisable hits.
At the prestigious Anugerah Juara Lagu, Pak Ngah won four Best Song trophies in the irama Malaysia category for Cindai (1998), Hati Kama (1999), Balqis (2000) and Nirmala (2002). Cindai and Balqis went on to win Best Overall Song.