P. Ramlee's kin want their TV royalty

By Yiswaree Palansamy

GEORGE TOWN: The family of the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee wants a share of the estimated RM200 million (S$81 million) which Shaw Brothers Studios is said to have raked in from the numerous hit movies the actor had starred in.

They have engaged a counsel to help them get back the monies which they felt were due to them as his movies are still being widely screened here and in Indonesia.

Also helping them in their case is Persatuan Melayu Pulau Pinang (Pemenang) who said the share of the royalty payments for his creative works was the family's right and must be made accessible to them.

Counsel Datuk Hamzah Mohd Kassim said the family had so far received only about RM200,000 in royalty payment from revenue generated by his songs.

The money was shared between P. Ramlee's late wife, actress Saloma, and his adopted son, Sazali.

Hamzah said although P. Ramlee did not get to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, Shaw Brothers had a social responsibility to share part of the royalties with his family.

He said information had surfaced that the contract signed by P. Ramlee with Shaw Brothers was ambiguous and there could be room for further negotiations.

"The contract gave the production house the right to his movies and only involved their screening on the big screen. But now, we see his movies being shown on television all the time and they are also shown in other countries such as Indonesia.

"We feel there is a case for the production house to answer (concerning royalties from TV screenings)."

Hamzah also said he would be seeking expert advice from Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on presenting the actor's case, besides initiating discussions with Shaw Brothers.

Pemenang president Datuk Seri Mohd Yussof Latiff said P. Ramlee was a national icon and no effort should be spared to ensure that his legacy lived on through his descendents.

The two were present at the launch of the P. Ramlee Heritage Trail at Rumah P. Ramlee here.

The heritage trail is a tour to visit the screen legend's roots in Penang, Perak, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Acheh, Indonesia -- where the actor's family originated.

Those taking the tour will have a chance to trace back P. Ramlee's life and the things he did in the various cities.

Hamzah later announced Pemenang would look for a suitable piece of land in Jalan P. Ramlee to develop Dataran P. Ramlee (P. Ramlee Square).