Anugerah Seni Negara

While most people spent Sunday evening huddled at home, awed by the almighty storm that unleashed itself on the Klang Valley, some of our braver folk made their way to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre for the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage’s Anugerah Seni Negara 2006 awards ceremony. It was a glamorous evening, with the Agong, and host of other dignitaries, arts practitioners, academics and groupies there to honour those who have contributed, and continue to contribute to the betterment of the arts in Malaysia.

Top honouree for the night was composer and musician Datuk Dr Ahmad Khan Bin Nawab Kahan, (Datuk Ahmad Nawab) who was named Anugerah Seniman Negara. Penang-born Ahmad Nawab has been involved in the local music scene since the 1950’s, and has to his name over 2000 songs. Skilled in numerous genres of music, he has worked with luminaries like P. Ramlee, Saloma, Sudirman, Salamiah Hassan, Andre Goh, M. Sani and countless others.

After the formalities of the awards ceremony, the newly minted Seniman Negara — in his trademark sunglasses –­ treated the audience to a wicked solo sax performance. This was followed by a performances of some of Nawab’s greatest hits by the likes of Khatijah Ibrahim, Jamal Abdullah and Ramlah Ram.

Other winners for the night included artist / cartoonist Dato Mohd Nor Khalid (Lat), choreographer Ramli Ibrahim, lighting whiz Ee Chee Wei, artist Chuah Chong Yong, dancer Zamzuriah Zahari, the multi-talented Andre Goh and many more. (full list of winners below)

Anugerah What?

Anugerah Seni Negara: first introduced in 1993, the award is considered the highest accolade bestowed upon arts practitioners in Malaysia by the government.

When it was first conceived, only one award was presented for Anugerah Seniman Negara, a sort of lifetime achievement award in the arts if you will. But in 2004, in response to the growth in the arts scene, the awards scope was expanded to include categories Karyawan Seni and Pendukung Seni.

This year, it was expanded further to include the category Bakat Muda, honouring younger agents in the field. Each category then awards outstanding achievements in music, dance, theatre and visual arts.

Show Me The Moolah

If you thought trifling trophies was all they got, think again.

The recipient of the Anugerah Seniman Negara receives RM60,000 (up from RM30,000 in previous years), a trophy (naturally) and a songket Baju Melayu set among other things; recipients of Anugerah Karyawan Seni each receive RM10,000, a trophy and a certificate of appreciation; Anugerah Bakat Muda recipients each walk away with RM5,000, a trophy, certificate, and also training under the Ministry’s Latihan Penggiat Seni; and finally recipients of the Anugerah Pendukung Seni each receive RM5,000, a certificate and trophy.

Above all, it is an acknowledgment from the government and their peers of a job well done.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

So how does it work?

Well theoretically, someone has to do good work in any of the four categories to get noticed enough.

Then, anyone so compelled by said stunning work, are free to make a nomination through the public and peer nomination system for the awards, by filling in a form, complete with reasons, documents and a list of their achievements to date – basically why you think he/she’s the one. But be sure to have their consent before you do.

Once the list of candidates are in, members of the four panels – music, dance, theatre and visual arts – get to work in assessing the nominees – much debate and discussion follow – before the year’s winners are finally decided upon.

Incidentally, the members in the panel are made up of practitioners, academics and basically respected figures and experts in their respective fields.


Always on the look out for excuses to harass hot, intelligent artists, we made calls to some of this year’s winners, to get their take/reaction to the awards:

Umesh Shetty, Anugerah Karyawan Seni Tari
This dancer/choreographer who bagged the award for dancer under the Karyawan Seni Tari category, was very surprised and honoured to win. “It’s fantastic!” he says. Nominated by Sukania Venugopal, Umesh didn’t quite realise how big the awards are. An honour to be recognised by the government and his peers, Umesh was also impressed with the members on the dance committee’s panel, who are all respected members in the dance community, who come from different dance backgrounds. The introduction of the Bakat Muda award this year also went down well with him, especially since the winners get to undergo training programmes under the ministry, which he thinks is important, encouraging and helpful for any young artist.

Khalid Salleh, Anugerah Karyawan Seni Teater
“Dia bagi, saya ambil. Bagi saya, saya kerja bukan untuk award. Lebih baik saya kerja untuk bangunkan budaya.”

Ramlan Abdullah, Anugerah Karyawan Seni Tampak
Recipient of the award for Karyawan Seni Tampak (Seni Arca), Ramlan too was pretty surprised about his nomination and win. He found out that he had been nominated by a few galleries, and learnt of his win while he was in Jordan. Though a great surprise and honour, Ramlan does feel that the visual arts award, which currently recognises two categories, – art and sculpture – should be expanded to include other awards for categories such as print making, painting, photography and other different art mediums too. Though pleased with the government’s recognition of the visual arts, he feels more can and should be done, and that they had missed out on some important features.

Mac Chan, Anugerah Karyawan Seni Teater
“I felt so proud and surprised!”

Prakash Kandasamy, Anugerah Bakat Muda Seni Muzik
For Prakash, receiving the award is not just about the validation from the government and his peers. (Which he likes too, make no mistake.) More so than that, it’s the pride in his parents and family’s eyes that does it for him. He says that to his parents, he might appear to just be this guy who “bangs on the drums”. So it is awards like these, which help put things in perspective, showing them (and himself) that he’s “on the right track.”

And the award goes to:

Here’s a rundown of this year’s winners:

Anugerah Seniman Negara: Datuk Dr. Ahmad Khan bin Nawab Khan

Anugerah Karyawan Seni Tampak:
Visual Arts – Dato Mohd Nor Khalid (Lat)
Sculpture – Ramlan Abdullah

Anugerah Karyawan Seni Tari:
Choreography – Ramli Ibrahim
Dance – Umesh Shetty

Anugerah Karyawan Seni Muzik:
Composition – Suhaimi Mohd Zain
Musical Arrangement – Ooi Eow Jin
Musical Direction – Woon Wen Kin
Musician – Rahim @ Mohd Noh Jantan

Anugerah Karyawan Seni Teater:
Scriptwriter – Prof. Dr. Hatta Azad Khan
Director – Zahim Al Bakri
Actor – Khalid Saleh
Lighting Design – Mac Chan
Set Design – Raja Khalid Raja Mohd Iskandar (Raja Maliq)

Anugerah Bakat Muda Seni Tampak:
Visual Arts – Chuah Chong Yong
Sculpture – Mohd Faizal Ramli

Anugerah Bakat Muda Seni Tari:
Choreography – Shafirul Azmi Bin Suhaimi
Dancer – Zamzuriah Zahari

Anugerah Bakat Muda Seni Muzik:
Composer – Azlan Abu Hassan
Arrangement – Jason Voon
Musical Direction – Eric Lee Yin Fah
Musician – Prakash Kandasamy

Anugerah Bakat Muda Seni Teater:
Scriptwriter – Mohd Faisal Musa (Faisal Tehrani)
Director – Gavin Yap
Actor – Juhara Ayob
Lighting Designer – Ee Chee Wei

Anugerah Pendukung Seni:
Media/Arts Writer – Klasik Nasional
Private Sector – The Actors Studio
Corporation – Digi
NGO – Bahagian Sekolah, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia
Individual – Datuk Mohammed Yaman Hj. Ahmad Yus
Individual – Goh Eng Boon (Andre Goh)


Juliet Jacobs is Kakiseni’s Events Editor. She doubles as a staff writer. Kathy Rowland gets invited to free lunches. She eats a lot.

First Published: 23.11.2006 on Kakiseni

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