How a newspaper article helped save a legend’s home

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The birthplace of the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee in Jalan P. Ramlee, Penang would have disappeared if a reporter had not uncovered the owner’s plans to demolish the building.

Omar Md Hashim, 67, better known as Omara, was then a part-time journalist at the now defunct daily Bintang Timur when he announced the planned demolition in 1980.

“I was researching the legendary artist’s birthplace and P. Ramlee’s friend, Jamal Kongo, introduced me to the legend’s neighbor, Pak Murad.

“Pak Murad then took me to see the landowner, Tok Bee,” he said.

Omar said Tok Bee told him she planned to demolish the house where P. Ramlee was born and then build a new one on the site.

“Hearing this, I went to interview several artists and personalities in Penang and Kuala Lumpur who were close to P. Ramlee.

“Everyone wanted P. Ramlee’s house to be saved and preserved for future generations.

“After writing the article, I sent the handwriting to Bintang Timur’s office in Prai and the article was published on July 1, 1980,” said George Town World Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Omar. Heritage Incorporated. Prize (Dedication to the transmission of knowledge).

He said he did not expect his article to generate so much interest across the country.

“One of the reporters in Kuala Lumpur reported and interviewed the then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Tan Sri Abdul Samad Idris, who was featured in Bintang Timur’s cover story titled “Selamatkan Rumah P. Ramlee!” (Save P. Ramlee’s house!).

“The house, which was in poor condition, was rebuilt on the same site,” he said.

It was officially inaugurated on December 13, 1991, then Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Datuk Seri Sabbaruddin Chik.

“The National Archives has been designated as the lead agency for the preservation and conservation of the historic site,” Omar said.

He said the conservation of the house was important because it was part of Penang’s history and culture.

“Through this article, future generations will know who P. Ramlee was and what an important figure he was in Malaysia,” he added.

Next to the house is the P. Ramlee Gallery of the Pustaka Warisan Seni Complex.

Opened in 2000, the gallery presents his personal objects, photographs and films.

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