Yesterday, Malaysia lost another gem of the Arts industry, National Laureate Syed Alwi. I wish i'd had a chance to know him on a more personal level, to ask him what it was like fighting to establish a voice and a presence for Malaysian theatre. I wish i could have thanked him personally for his blood, sweat and tears, for which, along with the efforts of the other gems we have sadly lost such as Leslie Dawson and Krishen Jit, we the Anak Seni have inherited and grown from. Only someone with that much passion and a deep love for his art could have fought so hard and so long and against the odds that our artists are still faced with even today.
Thank you Tuan Syed, for your love and your spirit, may it live on and burn in in me and my other colleagues so we can someday finish off what you fought so hard to achieve.
Malaysia theater laureate Syed Alwi dies at 78
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Pioneering playwright Syed Alwi Syed Hassan, who won Malaysia's highest cultural accolade for writing seminal plays that shaped his country's theater scene after independence from Britain, has died. He was 78.
Syed Alwi's son found his body at his bungalow on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur late Sunday, a district police official said Monday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
Authorities discovered no signs of a break-in but were investigating the cause of death because there were bruises on Syed Alwi's body, the official said.
Syed Alwi's career spanned more than 50 years. He is the first known ethnic Malay to study theater at a foreign university, earning dual degrees in theater arts and journalism at the University of Minnesota in the 1950s.
After returning to Malaysia, Syed Alwi helped lead a 1967 coup by local arts activists against the Malayan Arts Theater Group, which was still run at the time by expatriates 10 years after the country achieved independence from Britain.
The move enabled Syed Alwi and his peers to popularize contemporary Malay-language plays steeped in local culture. In 1974, Syed Alwi wrote one of Malaysia's most respected modern plays, "Tok Perak," which depicts the struggles of an aged medicine man who roams the country.
Syed Alwi won the National Arts Award from the government in 2002 for his lifetime contributions. He is also remembered for his role as the top royal adviser in the 1999 Hollywood movie "Anna and the King," which starred Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat.
Syed Alwi is survived by three children.