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National laureate Arena Wati dies

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 Jan 2009: National laureate Muhammad Dahlan Abdul Baing, 84, better known as Arena Wati, died at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) in Cheras at 1.40am today, from lung cancer.

He had been treated at HUKM since 20 Sept, and his wife Halimah Sulong and two of his children, Ratna Siti Akbari and Hasanuddin, were at his bedside when he breathed his last.

His remains were brought to the Federal Territory Mosque in Jalan Duta at noon for the funeral prayer before burial at 3pm at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery.

Besides his wife, and Ratna and Hasanuddin, Arena Wati also leaves behind four other children, Rahmah Wati, Hirianty, Ilhamuddin and Kamaluddin Rostor.

Rahmah Wati, his eldest, said while warded, her late father was still writing his trilogy titled Bara-Baraya.

“The trilogy which revolves around the struggles of the Malays in the archipelago, is to be published this year,” she said.

Meanwhile, another national laureate, Tan Sri A Samad Said, regards Arena Wati’s death as a big loss to the Malay literary world.

“He was very prolific as he was much inspired by his life’s experiences,” said Samad of his comrade.

Arena Wati, was born on 30 July 1925 in Kalumpang Kabupatan, Jeneponto, Makasar, Indonesia and went to a Dutch school in Makasar before it was closed when the war broke out.

He had used other pen names such as Duta Muda and Patria. He won several awards like the SEA Write Award (1985) and made a national laureate (1988) for his works. 

Arena Wati had also entered the journalistic world in 1954 and was once an editor at Pustaka Antara.

Among his many works were Eno (1985), Syair Pangeran Syarif (1989), Syair Pangeran Syarif Hasyim Al-Qudsi (1989), Syair Perang Cina Di Monterado (1989), Burung Badai (1990), Turina (1991) and Citra (1991).

The others include Memoir Arena Wati Enda Gulingku (1991), Ombak Samudera (1992), Meniti Kala (1993), Panrita (1993), Sudara (1994), Mevrouw Toga (1995), Begawan (1996), Koleksi Terpilih Arena Wati (1996), Sukma Angin (1999), Getar-Getir Maya Kumpulan Cerpen (2000), Trilogi Busa (2002).

Most of his writings revolved around the struggles of people from the lower stratum of society and the championing of the lot of the disadvantaged or oppressed. – Bernama


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