Tuesday, December 2, 2008

National Laureate Datuk Syed Alwi Found Dead

National Laureate Datuk Syed Alwi Found Dead

SUNGAI BULOH, Dec 1 (Bernama) -- Theatre activist and national laureate Datuk Syed Alwi Syed Hassan died at his house in Sungai Serai, Kuang, near here, Sunday night.

Selangor CID chief SAC II Hasnan Hassan said the body of the 78-year-old was found in the kitchen of his bungalow by his son, Norsham, 27, at about 8.30pm.

"When his body was found with scratch marks and bruises, he was believed to have died about 48 hours earlier," he told reporters at the scene.

He said there were no signs of forced entry into the bungalow but an overturned table and scattered medicines were found inside.

However, police did not dismiss the possibility of Syed Alwi being killed in a robbery or had fallen and died.

"We are still investigating, " said Hasnan, who added that the body had been sent to Sungai Buloh Hospital.

The late Syed Alwi's former wife, Norhayati Hashim, 56, said the deceased who had been staying with Norsham since 1994, had two other children by his former first wife.

She also said that the bungalow had been broken into before.

Syed Alwi, who was born on March 29, 1930 had his early education at the Pondok Tanjung Malay School and then studied at Clifford School in Kuala Kangsar.

He later pursued further studies in theatre and journalism at the University of Minnesota, United States, the first Malay to study the field in a foreign university.

Syed Alwi received the John D. Rockefeller III scholarship for theatre and film studies in the US from April to June 1980.

He was among the theatre activists of two eras - the colonisation and post-Merdeka days - and had produced works which touched on Malay issues.

Syed Alwi was seen as being instrumental in lifting the local theatre productions from that of the "bangsawan" (costume) and "purbawara" (period) into plays with more contemporary flair.

Among his award-winning stage productions were "Alang Retak Seribu" (1973), "Tok Perak" (1974), and two efforts in the English language, "I Remember The Rest House" (1992) dan "Member of The Club" (1994).

He was behind the setting up of the Malayan Art Theatre Group which later became the Malaysian Art Theatre Group.

He had directed and acted in several theatre productions including Midsummer Nights (Starveling) , Androcles and the Lion (Slave) and Henry V (Duke of Bedford) until 1953.

Syed Alwi had stints with RTM, TV3 and NTV7 apart from serving Filem Negara, Panggung Negara, National Arts Academy, Universiti Malaya and the United Nations Information Service.

In 1999, he acted in a Hollywood movie, "Anna and The King" as the prime minister.

He received the nation's top arts award, the "Anugerah Seni Negara" on Oct 23, 2002 in recognition of his contribution in the field.

Al-Fatihah. Amin


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