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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Old Friends at NSTP Raise Funds For Veteran Singer and former colleague Dato Dahlan Zainuddin


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Tribute to Dahlan: Veteren crooner touched to see old NSTP friends, football teammates

NST

KUALA LUMPUR: VETERAN crooner Datuk Dahlan Zainuddin could not help but sing for his old friends at his tribute dinner on Friday despite being advised by doctors to stay offstage for at least one year.
Touching everyone’s heart with his smooth voice, Dahlan performed three songs with his old Melody Buskers bandmates, who continue to entertain guests at the popular Nasi Lemak Tanglin stall here.
Dahlan, 76, had a stroke in July.
Moved by his condition, veteran journalist Tony Mariadass organised a tribute dinner for him.
“I had planned to organise a tribute football match for Dahlan previously, but after the stroke, I thought a dinner would be more appropriate,” Mariadass, 59, told the New Sunday Times at the Olympic Sports Hotel here.
Dahlan worked in the New Straits Times Press (NSTP) marketing and advertising department, where he captained and coached the football team from the 1970s to the 1980s.
“I was 19 when I joined NSTP in 1977, so I can say that I grew up with him when I played right-winger for the team,” Mariadass said.
The NSTP team was not just a group of footballers playing for fun. They played internationally in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore, among others.
Dahlan was the midfielder, who had first played for the Selangor Indian Association in the Selangor League before playing for teams
like Starlight Club, Chui Lok, Belia Sinaran and Mara.
As he grew older, he continued to play in the veterans’ team of Ulu Klang Recreation Club.
“We had very little funding, so the whole team collected money for our first trip to Bangkok by train. Sometimes Dahlan’s band would travel with us, too.
“Although this dinner was my idea, everybody put in the effort to make it happen because we shared so many memories together and most of us have not seen each other for more than 30 years,” Mariadass said. 
Besides the surprise appearance by Melody Buskers, the comrades also presented a contribution of RM5,400 to Dahlan.
“It is not a donation, but a small contribution to help him cope with some expenses. That amount is very small compared to what he did for us.
“I had most of the old team’s contact numbers as we are active in the veterans league, so getting in touch with everyone was not hard.”
Mariadass took only a month to organise the event.
R. Mohanan, 58, felt obliged to share his Dahlan story, who is also fondly called Dell by his circle of friends, for it was because of the latter that he became the man he was today.
“My mother used to babysit Dell’s daughter at her home in Lucky Garden. She told him that I was jobless but was a good football player, so he asked me to try out for the team.
“He saw my potential and I got a spot on the team as a midfielder and  the next day, I got a job as a manual worker for NSTP,” Mohanan said.
This was in 1978 and he was only 19.
He recalled the rigorous training under Dahlan’s captaincy, sprinting up and down the hills at Lake Garden and the staircase at Panggung Anniversary.
He travelled overseas for the first time in his life with the team in 1979. They went to Hong Kong.
“My mother sent me off at the airport and there is a picture of her with Dahlan there together.
“My family owes so much to Dahlan. I have four children who are engineers and doctors, and they all know what Dahlan had done for us.”
When he told Dahlan and his wife, Datin Effa Rizan, of his mother’s passing in 1996, they were shocked and saddened for not knowing earlier.
“If he had not asked me to try out for the company’s football team, I would probably be nowhere now.”
Mohanan retired in 2014 as a senior sales executive.
He retired from football in 2007 after fracturing his ankle while playing in the veterans’ league and had lost contact with most of his old teammates.
“Tony managed to find us and when he initiated this dinner, I immediately confirmed my attendance.”
Effa, Dahlan’s wife of 40 years, was touched by the event held in her husband’s honour.
“We knew about the dinner, but we were surprised to see Dahlan’s old band here, too. I have known these men when they were just teenagers. How they have changed,” she said.
Effa said although Dahlan was unwell, she managed to get him out of the house for the tribute dinner.
“I am glad we are here tonight because my husband tends to get lonely staying at home all the time.

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