Singapore's well-known literary figure Suratman Markasan dies


The late poet and novelist Suratman Markasan has received multiple literary awards including the Southeast Asian Writers Award (1989), the Tun Seri Lanang Award from the Malay Language Council (1999) and the Cultural Medallion (2010). - Image from The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE (Bernama): Singaporean literary luminary Suratman Markasan, recipient of the Tun Seri Lanang Award, passed away on Tuesday in Singapore at the age of 93.

The passing of the esteemed figure in Singapore Malay literature was announced by Malaysian language and literary figure, Prof Datuk Seri Dr Awang Sariyan, through his Facebook page after receiving the news from Suratman's daughter, Suriani Suratman.

Awang stated that he was informed Suratman had taken his last breath at 2 am earlier.

"During my lecture visit to Singapore at the end of January, he was in the hospital and sent his regards to me," Awang said in his note, which also shared a poem commemorating Suratman's contributions to the Malay literary world.

Local media reported that Suratman had been ill for a long time and had been in and out of the hospital. His last interview with Detik Personaliti media was postponed several times due to his deteriorating health condition.

According to the National Library of Singapore, Suratman is a prolific poet, novelist, and respected literary pioneer in Singapore.

Born in Singapore in 1930, Suratman commenced his writing journey in the early 1950s, and his literary career spans from the early 1950s to the present.

The numerous awards he has received include the Southeast Asian Writers (SEA Write) Award (1989); Singapore’s prestigious Cultural Medallion (2010); and the Anugerah Sasterawan Mastera (Southeast Asia Literary Council) Award (2014) conferred by Mastera Brunei.

Suratman has contributed significantly to the discourse on Malay literature, language, and culture, delivering numerous papers in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

He has also written many working papers about Malay literature, language, and culture, which he then presented in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

He participates actively in literary, language, and cultural associations in Singapore through important roles he has held in Angkatan Sasterawan '50 (Asas '50) and the Singapore Malay Teachers' Union.

His literary journey began with his inaugural poem "Hati yang Kosong" ("An Empty Heart") in 1954, which encapsulated his quest for existential meaning.

In 1991, Suratman became the first Singaporean writer to serve as a guest writer for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Malaysia.

Much of Suratman's literary corpus revolves around Singaporean themes and addresses the concerns of the Malay community in Singapore. His works offer critiques of perceived undesirable actions or ideas, while also reflecting his observations on social, cultural, and political shifts impacting the Malay community. - Bernama

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