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Salim Bachik was a well-known stage and film actor who made his name in Singapore from the 1950s onwards. Co-founder of Bengkel Drama Kelab Panggung Negara (National Theatre Malay Drama Workshop) and once-chairman of the Drama Department of Sriwana, Salim’s contributions to raising the professionalism of theatre and film in Singapore were cut short by his sudden death in 1977. Today, his legacy lives on in his son Harun Salim Bachik, a well-known actor and comedian.
Born in Malacca in 1936 into a family of artists, Salim Bachik first set foot in Singapore in 1956 as a 20-year-old when he signed up with the British Armed Forces as a peon.
But the office was unable to contain the talents of this charismatic young man and he moved into the arts and culture field shortly after his arrival in Singapore. He joined the Tanglin Tinggi Scouts, beginning his artistic career as a comedian and singer in the Scouts choir under the instruction of Zubir Said.
Wanting to further pursue his passion for the arts, Salim then ventured into Malay-language theatre as the art form was gaining resurgence in Singapore. In particular, he was a noted actor-comedian in stage dramas presented by Perkumpulan Seni (Singapore Art Group) in 1960. The next year, he left to join Sriwana as chairman of the drama section. In 1967, he acted in the Sriwana production Awal dan Mira at the Victoria Theatre, earning acclaim for his performance.
In 1968, Salim co-founded Bengkel Drama Kelab Panggung Negara (National Theatre Club Drama Workshop), with which he conducted drama workshops for aspiring actors. It was during these years that he rose higher in the public eye due to his role in the play Lela Satria, which was jointly presented by Perkumpulan Seni and Sriwana. Over his years of involvement in theatre, Salim’s talent and popularity on stage was compared to P. Ramlee’s universal appeal in the movies.
A significant figure in Singapore Malay theatre, Salim also achieved great acclaim as a television and film personality in the ’60s and ’70s. He was the popular lead actor in TV Singapura's Pak Awang Temberang series that turned him into a household name, and was cast in several films by Shaw Brothers and Cathay-Keris Films such as Gerak Kilat. Known for his serious work ethic, he worked hard to memorise lines and immerse himself in the characters he played without a break, earning the admiration and praise of his peers. Salim’s hard work and talent earned him a reputation as a top actor.
When Cathay Keris Films closed in 1973, Salim moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work as an acting coach with Television Malaysia, imparting his passion for acting to young actors, and as a broadcast assistant with Radio Malaysia.
In February 1977, Salim passed away at the age of 41 due to heart ailments. His sudden death in the prime of his acting career came as a shock to his peers in Malay theatre and film. His career, already containing a substantial body of work, was unfortunately cut short.
Three months later, a dramatic representation of his life was staged by several actors from Perkumpulan Seni and Sriwana, directed by Bani bin Buang and written by Alias Husaini, to remember and honour contributions to Malay theatre and film in Singapore and Malaysia. He was also posthumously awarded the Best TV Actor award by Radio Television Malaysia.
Today, Salim’s legacy lives on through his son Harun Salim Bachik, a well-known television and film actor in Malaysia.
Born in Simpang Ampat, Alor Gajah, Malacca, Malaysia.
Moved to Singapore to work for the British Armed Forces as a peon.
Actor and comedian, Perkumpulan Seni.
Became Chairman (Drama), Sriwana.
Actor, film Bayangan Di Waktu Fajar.
Actor, film Gerak Kilat.
Actor, film Dosa Wanita.
Actor, play Awal dan Mira, Victoria Theatre, Sriwana.
Actor, play Ribut Pagi, Sriwana.
Co-founder, Bengkel Drama Kelab Panggung Negara (National Theatre Malay Drama Workshop).
Director, play Dr Samsi, Sriwana.
Actor, play Malam Jahanam, Sriwana.
Moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Broadcast Assistant, Radio Malaysia
Acting coach, Television Malaysia.
Actor, film Kekaseh.
Actor, film Menanti Hari Esok.
Posthumously awarded the Best TV Actor award, Radio Television Malaysia.
Passed away at age 41 in Malaysia.
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Salim Bachik (standing) with sister and fellow actor Pon Bachik (sitting, right) in Ribut Pagi by Sriwana. 1967. Image courtesy of Sriwana.
TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.
In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.