Tuan Hj Mahzan Abd Manan, who hailed from Taiping, Perak is the composer of the ‘USIM Terus Maju’ song, first played to the then KUIM first batch of graduates in 2003. He was educated in SMK King Edward VII, Taiping, Perak before serving as the English teacher in SK King Edward VII, Taiping, Perak.

Q1 Please share a little bit of your background especially on your involvement in music.

I began by trying out musical instruments and it became a fun hobby when I can play instruments like the guitar and accordion. My love of music enticed me to try writing songs and entering songwriting competitions organised by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM). I began by trying out musical instruments and it became a fun hobby when I can play instruments like the guitar and accordion. My love of music enticed me to try writing songs and entering songwriting competitions organised by Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

At that time, public entertainment is solely via the radio as the television is not yet affordable. Around 1960s, RTM hold a new songwriting competition on the radio every month. The monthly winners then competed at the annual final stage, and the winning song were sung by Bintang RTM contestants.

I didn’t expect at all that my first entry through a song titled ‘Hanya Sekejap’ would be selected to the final stage and subsequently crowned the Champion (1962). I continued to polish my talent in songwriting and luck was on my side when I defended the Champion title three years in a row in the said competition.

After that, in 1975, I moved to Kuala Lumpur and served at the Radio Pendidikan Kementerian Pelajaran as a Music Show Producer. In the 1980s, I had the opportunity to write pop/commercial songs for the nation’s famous singers and to participate in more RTM-organised song competitions. Among the songs I wrote that are still evergreen to the present day are ‘Cinta Abadi’ (DJ Dave), ‘Biarlah Ku Sendiri’ (Noor Kumalasari), ‘Sepetang Di Pinggir Bukit’ (Sudirman Hj. Arshad) and ‘Bunga Mawar’ (Gaya Zakry). My song that won RTM’s Pesta Lagu Malaysia (1980), titled ‘Ke Mana Ku Bawa Diri’, went on to the next step of representing the country in Pesta Lagu-lagu ASEAN (1981).

From time to time, I was also trusted to write official/theme songs for governments’ departments and official events. Among those songs are:

• Perwira Angkasa for the Royal Malaysian Air Force;

• Al-Quran for the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, the theme song for the National and International Quran Recital Competition;

• Budaya Membaca for the National Library of Malaysia

I have also been involved in writing traditional songs especially keroncong, Asli Melayu dan Nasyid songs. I have been invited to judge song writing competitions, whether for patriotic, Nasyid or traditional (keroncong/Asli Melayu) songs. On top of that, I have also given talks and prepared working papers on the current development of music, especially on Nasyid and traditional music.

My interest/hobby is drawing figurative themes using oil paint and acrylic, for example traditional musical instruments (gendang, rebab, rebana, gambus and violin). Apart from that, I also enjoy sketching and designing compositions to embellish Al-Quran verse drawn on canvas.

Q2 How did the idea of producing the USIM Terus Maju song come about?

I was contacted by a KUIM (now known as USIM) representative to help produce a University song in conjunction with the first KUIM Convocation Ceremony in 2003. From there, a series of discussions were held between me and KUIM representatives. YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Mohd Yusof Noor, then the Chairman of KUIM Board of Directors (BoD) helped a lot in realising the efforts to hold a preview session of an early recording of the song. YBhg Tan Sri actually wrote the lyrics for the song I had composed to bring forth the spirit and identity of USIM.

This song was first played to the masses in conjunction with the first KUIM Convocation Ceremony, held in Dewan Perdana Felda, Kuala Lumpur in 2003. It was a sweet memory for me because the first group of KUIM students who had successfully graduated became the first batch to hear this KUIM Terus Maju song.

Q3 As the composer of the USIM Terus Maju song, what is your source of inspiration?

The USIM Terus Maju song is very special to me as it was inspired to confer respect to the birth of a contemporary Islamic University in line with the Vision, Mission and Goal of the University. For this reason, the rhythm of the song must be lively and is able to inspire the drive to succeed. This gave me the chance to put a patriotic touch in the song in the hope that it will stay relevant in tandem with the development of USIM in the future.

Q4 What are the values and philosophy that you try to project through the arrangement of the USIM Terus Maju song?

The original lyrics as written by YBhg Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Mohd Yusoff Noor, the former USIM BoD Chairman has a very deep meaning. For example, the following lyrics:

USIM menyahut harapan bangsa
Menjadi Universiti Termaju

has a very significant implication on the role of USIM as a Higher Education Institution which has been entrusted with the responsibility to uphold the status of religious stream students. It also envisages how USIM can thrive in the future and become the reference in both Naqli and Aqli aspects. Similarly worded are the following lyrics:

USIM berjanji pada ibunda
Berjasa berbudi untuk semua
Siswanya adalah tunggak negara
Kan terus membela maruah kita

The above lyrics really touched my heart. This is because, the phrase ‘USIM berjanji pada ibunda’ verse demonstrates how the University has duties to the country. Every member of USIM must prioritise values symbolised by the ‘berbudi kepada semua’ phrase. While the ‘Siswanya adalah tunggak negara, Kan terus membela maruah kita’ stanza shows that USIM undergraduates are instrumental as the bulwark of the country’s defence and will always endeavour to preserve the honour of Malaysians.

Q5 What is your hope for USIM members with the conception of the USIM Terus Maju song?

I pray that may USIM continue to prosper and be blessed by Allah Taala. I hope my little contribution in creating the USIM Terus Maju song will inspire the members of the University to strive and serve the University towards excellence. The song is my gift to USIM who has the vision, mission and goal to uplift Islamic Education to a high level. May our efforts aid in fostering a Malaysian Muslim generation that will lead the country towards the wellbeing of the ummah.