TV Malaysia is 50 today. It was officially launched by then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra on the evening of Dec 28, 1963, from Studio 1 -- a converted garage of a two-storey government office building next to Dewan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Jalan Ampang.
It was broadcast live, in black and white, with PAL system, and only covered the Kuala Lumpur area.
On this occasion, I would like to pay tribute to and remember the first group of television production team with related support personnel, such as floor managers, script assistants, technical crew, film camera men, photographers, film editors, make-up artists, props men, designers, graphic artists, stage hands and others.
There were fewer than one hundred of them. These dedicated young men and women, who were trained locally and abroad, were the pioneers who established the foundation of the development of television networks in Malaysia.
The then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman unveiling the plaque bearing the crest and
name of TV Malaysia to officially declare open the TV House at Angkasapuri, Kuala Lumpur, on Nov 17, 1969.
I was privileged to be selected to join the first group of seven other professional television producers in the country. They were (Tan Sri) Ahmad Merican, (Datuk) Syed Alwi Syed Hassan, Hashim Amir Hamzah, Long Hin Boon, Tan Geik Seam, Jimmy Massang and Richard Job.
The Department of Television was then headed by its director, Aw Keng Low, and assisted by four other heads of programmes (Raja Iskanda), engineering (K.K. Loh), film services (John Netlton), stage and design (Anthony) and news (Luke Ang).
One may remember the many locally produced television programmes from the temporary studio in Jalan Ampang. The first ever locally produced television drama in English, Going North, was written and produced by Syed Alwi with Manaf Abdullah, Che Gu Rashid, K.K. Das and a beautiful Chinese girl whose name I have forgotten.
The first Malay television drama was produced by Hashim Amir. Then, there was the weekly Arena Sukan with Datuk Rahim Razali, a cooking programme with Raja Teh Zaitun, musical shows, such as Take Five with Tony Soliano, the ever popular Empat Sekawan, Tamil detective series Inspector Sekar and many others.
Television Malaysia (then separated from Radio Malaysia) was established under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. It was merged into Department of Radio and Television Malaysia (RTM) in 1969 on recommendations by the Sambanthan Report.
The establishment of the first television network in the country was an important chapter in the history of this nation.
Yet, it appears that very few people are aware that today is its Golden Jubilee, sadly, including those responsible for the development of the electronic media in the country. Congratulations TV Malaysia!
Datuk Abdullah Mohamad, Former director-general of RTM, Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times Online Opinion Letters to the editor 28/12/2013