QuickCheck: Was 'Negaraku' derived from the Perak state anthem?

IN August, Malaysians nationwide gear up for National Day celebrations, embracing the spirit of Merdeka and sharing the joy in commemorating our country's independence, unity and harmony.

It is said that Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, who was also the chief minister and Home Affairs Minister at the time of independence, held a worldwide search for a suitable national anthem before Negaraku was finally selected.

However, is it true that the song was originally the Perak state anthem?



Each state had their own anthem at the time Malaya gained independence but there was no national anthem.

As such, Tunku Abdul Rahman launched an international competition to rectify this. 514 entries were reportedly received and the committee also invited famous composers to pen original compositions.

Some big names included Sir William Walton, who was responsible for the march used in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, famed British composer Benjamin Britten and songwriter Zubir Said, who would later go on to compose the Singaporean national anthem.

However, despite being spoiled for choice, none of the submissions – even the ones from musicians of great repute – caught the ears of the committee.

In the end, Tunku Abdul Rahman suggested using the Perak state anthem as a basis for the new national anthem.

The tune of the Perak state anthem is very similar to Terang Bulan, a popular love song at the time, though it is said that the melody existed even before Terang Bulan.

In fact, the song was believed to have been popularised by the then-Sultan of Perak, Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II, who heard the melody during his period of exile in the Seychelles Islands.

As such, Tunku Abdul Rahman and the selection committee felt the tune had the unique "traditional flavour" they were looking for in a national anthem.

New lyrics were written to go along with the music, making it the Negaraku we know and love today.

Negaraku, Tanah tumpahnya darahku, what a long and storied history you have.





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