P. Ramlee Died Poor Controversial Views Still Much Alive

The conflicting and controversial arguments over P Ramlee died poor is still much alive (no pun intended);particularly among his family members, his close peers, and his devoted fans.

P. Ramlee died a pauper, that’s what some people alleged.

Even this Malaysian entertainment icon P. Ramlee is dead more than four decades.

Tan Sri Teuku Zakaria Bin Teuku Nyak Puteh, or better known by his stage name P. Ramlee died at the age of 44 from a heart attack on 29 May 1973.

P. Ramlee died poor

The fact is even before the chief executive officer of Metrowealth Pictures, David Teo‘s 2016 unfavorable remarks about the late legendary P. Ramlee died broke, others have already mentioned about it.

You can listen to the interview of David Teo which was lambasted for being disrespectful.

P. Ramlee Eat Rice With Egg For Main Meals

The most startling revelation about P. Ramlee was a destitute in his later life was by his regular co-star, the late Aziz Satar way back in 2010.

P Ramlee Died Poor Controversy

I remember watching it on TV3 Majalah Tiga many years back.

In an interview, holding back his tears Aziz Satar revealed that “all he (P. Ramlee) had to eat was rice with egg for main meals”.

The same clip is also found ‘Biography‘ of the History Channel Asia which was broadcast on October 31, 2010.

You can view and hear what Aziz Satar said in this 90- minute documentary on P. Ramlee life over here.

The part when Aziz Satar revealed P. Ramlee had to eat rice with egg is at 1:15:35.

P. Ramlee Made Table Money From Mahjong Games

All this time Malaysians have heard stories of P. Ramlee loved to play mahjong and even once operated a mahjong stall.

In the same documentary, besides Aziz’s remarks, even Datuk Lakshmana Krishnan clearly revealed that P. Ramlee even set up mahjong shop, to earn the so-called table money from the rental of Mahjong tables. (1:09:52-1.10:10)

It is just like what some Chinese coffee-shop owners who are still doing it in some small towns in Malaysia.

By the way, Datuk L. Krishnan was the Indian director who gave P. Ramlee his first lead role in a movie, titled “Bakti“.

Then there is another shameful exposé being leaked by P. Ramlee’s very own childhood friend Sukardi Suradi.

Sukardi disclosed once when he encountered the late Malay superstar at the mahjong stall.

At that time Suradi was properly dressed up for a meeting, so he avoided sitting next to P. Ramlee.

By hiding his embarrassment, P. Ramlee took it on his buddy Suradi by showing his annoyance at him. (1:10:13 – 1:10:40)

Unfortunately that was how Malaysian superstar P. Ramlee once lived on the meagre earnings from the rental of mahjong tables.

The late Ramli Ismail aka Ramlee Kechik, his personal assistance confessed that P. Ramlee died broke, including his widow actress and singer Saloma. (1:23:49-1:24:01)

Yes, the popular Saloma who was once known as the ‘Marilyn Monroe of the Asia‘.

She was unable to pay for her husband funeral and it was Tan Sri Habib Mohamme Shah, owner of the iconic Shah’s Village Hotel in Petaling Jaya, who gave her RM 3000.

After Aziz Satar, Datuk L. Krishnan, Ramlee Kechik and Sukardi Suradi’s shocking claims, it did not draw flak from anyone: not Ramlee’s family members, his colleagues, his fervent fans or any of the Malay artistes.

No one clamored over Aziz Satar or Datuk L. Krishnan for insulting the late legendary silver screen star Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

It did not anger the Malay industry peers, or drive his fans to come out with lengthy Facebook posting like Afdlin Shauki Aksan.

But with David Teo’s passing remark, there was a deluge of hostile reactions.

Instantly, it triggered a big hue and cry, especially among P. Ramlee’s family members and those in the Malay entertainment industry.

The headlines screamed “Siapa kata P.Ramlee hidup ‘merempat’?” (Who says P. Ramlee lived in dire poverty?) and “Who said P Ramlee died a pauper?

P. Ramlee’s own son Sazali said his late dad had never in dire poverty.

Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s niece Rozita Rohaizad (daughter to Mariani, sister of Saloma) refuted reports that P. Ramlee died a pauper.

Rozita Rohaizad said Ramlee lived in a bungalow and had helpers. Saloma was still singing at clubs at the time so it was impossible he a pauper.

P. Ramlee’s niece Melissa Saila (daughter of Mariani Ismail, the older sister of Saloman) also shared the same sentiment.

She refuted those claims that P. Ramlee faced so much hardship that he only ate eggs were untrue.

In fact, Melissa said he just liked to eat eggs.

According to another one of P.Ramlee’s close friend, composer Dato Ahmad Nawab, the allegations of P. Ramlee was mirged in financial woes is not true.

At the time of P. Ramlee’s demise, Saloma had an insurance policy worth RM 100,000.

In the midst of researching material for this write-up, I came across Mokhtar Petah blog.

In one of his posts dated January 5, 2009, titled “SENIMAN P. RAMLEE KERAJAAN BELUM BAYAR ROYALTI RM3 JUTA?

I also came across an online article about the shady side of Seniman Agung, Allahyarham Tan Sri P. Ramlee which said to be taken from an old Malay entertainment magazine called “Gelanggang Film” (Film Arena).

The writer is by the name of Akhdiat Miharja.

The article is titled “Kisah Sedih P Ramlee 7 Bulan Sebelum Meninggal” (The Sad Tale Of P. Ramlee 7 Months Before His Passing)

I banyak dosa, I derita, I harap I sempat taubat sebelum I mati…

Saya berdosa kepada Allah, tapi apa boleh buat, dah terlanjur jadi orang wayang. Hidup penuh glamor. I harap I sempat taubat

Kalau ikut rasa nak tinggalkan dunia filem ni, tapi kerana nak cari makan, I terpaksa teruskan juga.

From the article, the writer is a close friend of P. Ramlee.

On A Side Note:

“Aku Tak Minum Arak Lagi, Aku Minum Teh Cina.”

While researching about this writer Akhdiat Miharja, I found another of his articles for “Catatan Wartawan” (Journalist Jottings).

What he wrote was another equally, if not more controversial article of the repentance of a late Malay ruler.

Sultan Perak bertaubat

It was written in Bahasa Melayu (Malay language), and here are two sources for those who want to know more:

source 1, source 2


Some say P Ramlee died poor, but he enriched the lives of others.

Whatever it is…

Malaysian screen legend Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s body rests at a Muslim cemetery on Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur, but his legacy lives on, so is the controversial stories of his later life.

Incidentally, here is a 1952 movie titled “Miskin” (The Poor) starring P. Ramlee.

* Here are two banned P. Ramlee movies on Malaysian TV.