BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
A REMAKE of an old Malaysian song popularised by reknowned Malaysian singer and actor P Ramlee in the 60s will trigger another controversy on polygamy in Indonesia.
Recently, the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs proposes a bill aimed at tightening the rules for polygamy, forcing Muslim men to get written consent from their existing spouse/spouses before taking extra wives.
The song will be released in the near future by Ahmad Dhani, the leader of one of Indonesia’s most popular band Dewa 19, in his album with another band, The Swinger. The song, recorded at Studio 301 in Sydney, Australia, is another version of the theme song of a comedy movie which P Ramlee directed and starred in 1964. The song entitled Madu Tiga (Three Wives) tells about the pleasure of having two wives but proposes the option of getting a third if there are problems with the first two. However, Dhani gives the impression that he is conducting a polygamy “campaign” through the song.
The single has been shown on television and surfers can enjoy it on the Internet. As an actor and singer, P Ramlee was very popular in Indonesia during the 1950s and early 1960s. Cinemas in several big cities in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya were always full of moviegoers, mostly teenagers, who were fans of the Malaysian celebrity. At least Ramlee became a Malaysian special envoy at the time by performing a cultural diplomacy, creating harmonious relations between the people of Malaysia and Indonesia before President Sukarno, who under the influence of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), launched a confrontation against Malaysia and supported the rebellion in North Borneo.
A female NGO representative has urged the government to ban the song, considering it provocative. “It should be banned because it has offended other people’s rights,” said Hegel Terome, Research Manager of the Female NGO Kalyanamitra, in an interview with Detikcom last week.
Besides that, he continued, the song could prove to be a negative influence on teenagers. “Dewa 19 is popular among teenagers. The song could be a new legitimation for them,” Hegel said, adding that “it’s very dangerous”.
Hegel saw the song as a reflection of Dhani’s private life; the singer-composer has separated from his wife Maia. Dhani’s life is full of controversy. There were gossips that he had close relations with several female singers such as Agnes Monica and Mulan (Kwok) Jamilah. Dhani is responsible for creating, through a reality TV show, the female trio Dewi-Dewi; and recently a female duo Mahadewi.
Meanwhile, Dr Musdah Mulia, a researcher at the Ministry of Religious Affairs who won an award from the US government in 2007 for advocating Indonesian women’s rights, called the song as rubbish, boorish, and indecent. “Sane people will consider it as rubbish,” she said, but calling not to boycott the song for the sake of freedom of expression. However, a group who called itself Mapolin or “Masyarakat Poligami Indonesia” (Indonesian Polygamous Community), led by polygamist Puspo Wardoyo, a Javanese businessman who runs Wong Solo, a network of roasted chicken restaurant, welcomes the song.
“There is nothing wrong with polygamy. Of course, I welcome the song,” Fauzan Al Anshari, Secretary-General of Mapolin, adding that polygamy is better than being an adulteress or having mistresses. Anshari himself has four wives.
He supports Ahmad Dhani because as an artist Dhani faces many temptations. “He has chosen the better way by avoiding [being an adulterer],” Anshari added. However, after his separation, Dhani, 37 years old, is still single. He once admitted that he never engaged in polygamy, but many parties gossip about him having more than one wife. “Tired of denying it continuously, I liven it up by making a video clip which implies that I am a polygamist,” Dhani said.
Incidentally, madu means honey; being part of a polygamous marriage may not be as sweet; but most probably, bittersweet!
Original song/lyrics: P. Ramlee
Aii… senangnya dalam hati
kalau beristri dua
Oh seperti dunia
Ana yang punya
Kepada istri tua
Kanda sayang padamu
Oh kepada isteri muda
I say i love you
Istri tua merajuk
Balik ke rumah istri muda
Kalau dua-dua merajuk
Ana kawin tiga
Mesti pandai pembohong
Mesti pandai temberang
Oh tetapi jangan sampai
Hai pecah tembelang
The Brunei Times
Sunday, March 8, 2009