Video of Malaysians singing Sudirman's 'Tanggal 31 Ogos' for Merdeka goes viral


Wong (left) and his friends came together to sing 'Tanggal 31 Ogos', popularised by the late Sudirman. Their rendition is called 'Merdeka (Tanggal 31)'. Photos: Vale V. Wong

As Malaysia's 66th Independence Day celebrations draw near, 12 Malaysians have come together to sing a musical tribute that resonates with the spirit of unity and patriotism.

Last Sunday (Aug 13), homegrown music director/musical performer Vale V. Wong, 40, and his friends recorded a music composition of Tanggal 31 Ogos, popularised by the late Sudirman and often sung during Merdeka celebrations throughout the nation.

Wong's rendition is called Merdeka (Tanggal 31). The Kuala Lumpur-based Sarawakian selected this song as he was driven by a commitment to revive the original dreams of the nation's founding forefathers.

"It's about going back to the beginning. What did our forefathers dream of when the London Agreement 1956 went through and they began to walk the road of becoming our own nation? I thought, maybe if we focus on those dreams, then the noise of intolerance, politics and unkindness might be forgotten, even if just for a while," said Wong in an email interview recently. "I want to remind everyone, and myself, that we are stronger together than apart."

Wong hopes 'Merdeka (Tanggal 31)' offers a poignant message of unity and love.Wong hopes 'Merdeka (Tanggal 31)' offers a poignant message of unity and love.

Wong selected 11 of his friends, colleagues and members of the all-male vocal group Kuala Lumpur Men's Chorus, forming a close-knit ensemble for the project. He aimed to capture the raw beauty of voices while accentuating the song's emotional impact.

"If you thought of us as uncles and aunties doing the TV series Glee, you wouldn't be far off the mark!" Wong joked.

"It's hard to get people to lend me their time for free, so these were the few that actually said yes. Also, the singing parts were pretty hard, and there was no score. So I needed people that could record any harmony I gave them in less than a minute, completely in tune and with feeling. These singers and my sound engineer are musical superheroes."

The late Sudirman, dressed in the Malaysian flag, advocated patriotism with songs like 'Tanggal 31 Ogos' and 'Kenali Malaysia'. Photo: FilepicThe late Sudirman, dressed in the Malaysian flag, advocated patriotism with songs like 'Tanggal 31 Ogos' and 'Kenali Malaysia'. Photo: FilepicThe journey of creating the tribute was not without its challenges. Wong shared that the video was conceptualised and executed in just two days.

"On Sunday, we recorded everything within four hours in my home. I had to rush it because these 11 friends and my sound engineer had given me their time for free to help make this happen, so I had to respect that as best as possible," said Wong.

The absence of a musical score for Tanggal 31 Ogos added an additional layer of complexity, requiring Wong to rely on his musical intuition to guide the voices.

"I had to imagine each line in my head and weave the voices around, even making on-the-spot changes when ideas didn't work. Oh, I forgot to mention, we didn't have a single rehearsal, so the kan cheong (anxious) feeling you sense from the performers? Completely real," said Wong.

The following day, the mix was finalised and released on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Spotify (Vale V Wong).

The Jalur Gemilang flags wave proudly, symbolising the Merdeka spirit and vibrant unity that shape the heart of Malaysia's identity. Photo: The Star/Lim Beng TattThe Jalur Gemilang flags wave proudly, symbolising the Merdeka spirit and vibrant unity that shape the heart of Malaysia's identity. Photo: The Star/Lim Beng Tatt

The song has since received over 50,000 views and 35,000 views on TikTok and Facebook. respectively. The comments have been nothing but positive.

On Wong's Instagram, @barbtasia wrote: "My gosh, the voices ... gives me goosebumps. Good arrangement. Beautiful and powerful voices. Job very well done, everyone. Selamat Hari Kebangsaan dan Selamat Hari Malaysia."

As Malaysia gears up for its 66th Merdeka, Wong hopes the song offers a poignant message of unity and love.

"By transforming a familiar tune and giving it new wings, we can remind people that things may continue to be tough, but we can get through them together. I hope people find more reasons to get to know and accept one another instead of reasons to hate or push each other away.

"This is because that's the sort of Malaysia I would love to show the world. Show them we're wonderful people who argue loudly but are there for each other when it matters. Happy Merdeka, everyone!"


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