Find what you're looking for on our main website and on Offstage.
Time taken : >15mins
Suratman Markasan is one of Singapore’s Malay-language literary pioneers. An educator, community leader, socio-political commentator, poet, and short story and novel writer, Suratman writes about the Malay experience in Singapore, addressing issues from filial piety to displacement in his award-winning works. A past chairman of the Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union and head of ASAS ’50, he received the S.E.A. Write Award in 1989 and the Tun Sri Lanang Literary Award from the Malay Language Council in 1999. In 2010, Suratman received the Cultural Medallion for his contributions to literature in Singapore.
Born in Singapore on 29 Dec 1930, Suratman Markasan grew up attending Malay schools in the ’40s, and worked as a trainee teacher in Sekolah Melayu Pasir Panjang once he completed his secondary school education.
He then attended the Sultan Idris Training School in Perak, Malaysia, graduating with a teaching certificate. In 1950, he returned to Singapore to teach at the Sekolah Melayu Teluk Blangah and also joined both the Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union and the Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 as a member. This began his long and illustrious affiliation with teaching and Malay-language literature.
In 1971, Suratman graduated from the Nanyang University with a Bachelors in Literature. By then, he had already published two novels and edited two anthologies of Malay-language literature. Although he had always been well-acquainted with the arts before he started publishing his work, writing would become a religious calling for Suratman after the death of his wife in the ’80s. He found meaning in the common issues of the Malay community and religion, and his honest and elegant writings focused on the challenges faced by the Malay community, reflecting critically on themes of race, identity, multiculturalism and nationhood.
From magazine articles to anthologies of poetry, and short stories to essays, his prolific body of work not only resonates with the Singapore Malay community, but overseas as well. Suratman has brought his poetry to international poetry recitals in countries such as Osaka, London, Paris and Germany. He also holds the honour of being the first Singapore writer to write for the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (The Malaysian Language and Literacy Agency), compiling and publishing Tiga Warna Bertemu, a collection of poems by 41 Singapore poets in an attempt to record the development of Singapore Malay-language poetry from the ’40s and beyond.
Suratman’s desire to help the development of Singapore Malay literature and language led to his being the editor of several publications, including Majalah Sasaterawan, Warita Suara, Ikhwan Darussalam and Khalifah Muda.
Away from his writing table, Suratman was also very active in several literary, language and cultural associations, providing his expertise as deputy president of Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 and Majlis Pusat, chairman of the Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union and information and publishing department of Yayasan MENDAKI, and docent with the Malay language and literature department in the Ministry of Education.
For his contributions, Suratman has been recognised by peers and awards alike. He received the S.E.A. Write Award in 1989, the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Award in 1997, and the Tun Sri Lanang Literary Award and the Nusantara Literary Award in 1999. In 2010, Suratman received the Cultural Medallion for his contributions to literature in Singapore.
Today, Suratman continues to write, publishing his novel Dunia Bukan Kita Punya in 2011.
Born in Pasir Panjang, Singapore.
Attended Sekolah Melayu Kampung Jaguh, Singapore.
Attended Sekolah Melayu Sepoy Lines, Singapore.
Attended Sekolah Pasir Panjang, Singapore.
Attended Sekolah Melayu Sepoy Lines, Singapore.
Trainee teacher, Sekolah Melayu Pasir Panjang, Singapore.
Attended Sultan Idris Training School, Tanjung Malim, Perak, Malaysia.
Teacher, Sekolah Melayu Teluk Blangah, Singapore.
Member, Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union.
Member, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Teacher, Sekolah Melayu Kampung Jagoh, Singapore.
Teacher, Sekolah Melayu Teluk Saga, Singapore.
Secretary, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50
Published poetry collection Mekar dan Segar.
Teacher, Pasir Panjang Secondary School, Singapore.
Published novel Tak Ada Jalan Keluar.
Teacher, Swiss Cottage Secondary School.
Published poetry collection Pertentangan.
Attended Nanyang University, Singapore. Gradated with BA in Literature (Malay and Indonesian Studies).
Vice-president, Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union.
Editor, Majalah Sasterawan, an Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 publication.
Teacher, Tun Seri Lanang Secondary School, Singapore.
Leader I, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Language and literature consultant, Ministry of Education.
Member, Society of Singapore Writers.
Special Inspector of Schools, Ministry of Education.
Published poetry collection Persidangan Penulis ASEAN 1977.
Member, Judging Panel, 1st ASEAN Literary Award, Bangkok, Thailand
Chairman, Literature Prize, Majlis Pusat.
Committee member, Majlis Pusat.
Deputy president, Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union.
Volunteer Aftercare Officer, Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association Muslim Counselling Service.
Published poetry collection Cerpen-Cerpen ASEAN.
Published novel Matahari Kota.
Assistant Director (Malay and Tamil Languages), Ministry of Education.
Chairman, Literature Prize Committee, Majlis Pusat.
Chairman (Language and Literary Department), Majlis Pusat.
Assistant Director (Additional Reading), Ministry of Education.
Docent (Malay Language and Literature), Ministry of Education.
Lecturer, Institute of Education.
Chairman, Language and Literature Committee, Majlis Pusat.
Published poetry collection Puisi Temasek.
Published poetry collection Puisi-Puisi Nusantara.
Member, Executive Committee, Yayasan MENDAKI.
Chairman, Information and Publishing Department, Yayasan MENDAKI
Published short story collection Gerak dan Dialog.
Received Diploma in Reading Development from Regional English Language Centre
Chairman, Singapore Malay Teachers’ Union.
Committee member, Malay Language Council.
Published poetry collection Gema Temasik.
Received Book Award (Malay Fiction), National Book Development Council of Singapore, for Gerak dan Dialog.
Published poetry collection Bahasa dan Sastera Nusantara: Sejarah dan Masa Depannya.
Editor, Majalah Sekata, a Malay Language Council publication.
Retires from teaching.
Deputy president, Majlis Pusat.
Deputy president, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Editor, Warita Suara, a Yayasan MENDAKI publication.
Leader II, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50
Pro tem President, Malay Language Teachers Association.
Adjunct lecturer, Institute of Education.
Published poetry collection Jalan Permulaan.
Published poetry collection Tiga Warna Bertemu.
Published poetry collection Temasik
Committee member, Malay Language Teachers Association.
Leader I, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Received S.E.A. Write Award.
Published novel Subuh Hilang Senja
Committee member, World Congress of Poets for South East Asia.
Editor, Warita Muis, a Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura publication.
Received Book Award (Malay Fiction), National Book Development Council of Singapore for Perempuan Kerudung Hitam.
Published short story collection Perempuan Kerudung Hitam.
Published poetry collection, Cerpen-Cerpen Nusantara Mutakhir.
Published literary critique From the beginning to two streams of social critique.
Guest writer, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (The Malaysia Language and Literacy Agency).
Published poetry collection Terminal Terakhir.
Published poetry collection Potret Isteri Yang Hilang.
Editor, Ikhwan Darussalam, a Darussalam Mosque publication.
Published novel Tiga Lelaki.
Received Hadiah Cemerlang award, National Book Development Council of Singapore.
Lifetime member, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Published short story collection Pertemuan Kedua.
Published poetry collection Journeys: Words, Home and Nation Collection of Singapore Poetry.
Published novel Di Bumi Mana.
Received Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award.
Published short story collection Stories From Southeast Asia.
Published novel Penghulu yang Hilang Segala-galanya.
Published poetry collection, Memories & Desires, a Poetic History of Singapore.
Editor, Khalifah Muda, a Masjid Darussalam and PERDAUS publication.
Received Tun Sri Lanang Literary Award. Malay Language Council, Singapore.
Received Anugerah Sasterawan Nusantara award.
Published short story collection Kembali Kepada Al-Quran.
Published poetry collection Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Collection of Poetry.
Poetry collection, Pengucapan Puisi Dunia Kuala Lumpur 2000.
Published 70 Tahun Suratman Markasan.
Published poetry collection Balada Suluh Budiman.
Received Anugerah Tokoh Pujangga award, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia.
Published short story collection Anak Bumi.
Published essay collection Citra Minda.
Published poetry collection Puisi Luka dan Puisi Duka.
Published Bangsa Melayu Singapura Dalam Transformasi Budayanya.
Received Anugerah Khas, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Published short story collection Langau Menyerang Masjid dan Cerita-cerita Lainnya.
Published book of children’s stories Agus, Sugus, osofogus dan usus.
Received Cultural Medallion for contributions to literature in Singapore.
Received Anugerah Munsyi Abdullah, Angkatan Sasterawan ’50.
Published poetry collection Puisi-puisi Perjalanan.
Published novel Dunia Bukan Kita Punya.
Novel Penghulu yang Hilang Segala-galanya translated into English and published as Penghulu.
1 / 23
Suratman Markasan (standing, 2nd from right) as a student at Sekolah Melayu Sepoy Lines, Singapore. 1 Oct 1946.
2 / 23
Suratman Markasan (sitting, 4th from right) with classmates at Sultan Idris Training School, Perak, Malaysia. 1950.
3 / 23
Suratman Markasan (sitting, centre) with his fellow teachers and class at Sekolah Melayu Teluk Saga, Pulau Brani, Singapore. 1958.
5 / 23
Suratman Markasan (right) presenting a paper at a Dewan Bahasa Pustaka event, Malaysia. 1981.
6 / 23
SEA Write Award with other winners L-R Chirnan Pitpreecha (Th), Adi Kelana (Br), Siti Zainon Ismail (My), Suratman Markasan (Sg), Lina Espina Moore (Ph), Gerson Poyk (Id). 1989.
7 / 23
Suratman Markasan (standing) speaking at the launch of his novel Subuh Hilang Senja in Singapore. 1989.
10 / 23
Suratman Markasan (right) with (from left to right) Singapore poet Mohd Latiff Mohamed, Prof Muhd Haji Salleh and Indonesian poet Sutardji Calzoum Bachri. 1992.
11 / 23
Suratman Markasan (left) with (from left to right) Singapore poet Mohd Latiff Mohamed, Indonesian poet Sutardji Calzoum Bachri and Prof Muhd Haji Salleh. 1992.
12 / 23
Suratman Markasan (4th from right) with Indonesian representatives at the Majlis Kongres Koordinasi Bahasa Melayu-Indonesia in Jakarta. 1993.
13 / 23
Suratman Markasan (back to camera) receiving the Tun Seri Lanang Award from Members of Parliament Sidek Saniff (left) and Yatiman Yusoff (centre). 26 July 1995.
16 / 23
Suratman Markasan (right) receiving the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award from Singapore poet Edwin Thumboo. 1997.
17 / 23
Suratman Markasan giving a poetry readying at Literature Week Dewan Bahasa Pustaka at Pasar Seni, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1997.
18 / 23
Suratman Markasan (back to camera) receiving the Anugerah Punjangga from Penang Governor Dato Seri Hj A Rahman Haji Abbas at Sultan Idris University of Education. 19 Oct 2002.
19 / 23
Suratman Markasan (right) receiving a token of appreciation for being a judge at the Anugerah Persuratan 2003. 2003.
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.