The singer-songwriter led 13 artistes in the “Setia Perpaduan” song inspired by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Rotary Club of Ara Damansara (RCAD) has created a special award for veteran singer-songwriter Datuk Irwan Shah, better known as DJ Dave, to recognise exceptional leadership in promoting national unity.
Known as the RCAD Award for Unity, it is conferred on DJ Dave for his exemplary role in a project mooted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong which resulted in a popular unity song called Setia Perpaduan.
Besides its royal inspiration, Setia Perpaduan is also uniquely Malaysian in that it is sung by 13 artistes in different languages and dialects to showcase the diverse-yet-united Malaysian society.
RCAD president David Cheah Yik Qin said DJ Dave will receive his award during the club’s 7th Installation Dinner to be held here on 20 January 2024. The award carries a cash prize of RM10,000.
He said DJ Dave was a deserving winner for his outstanding contributions to nurturing unity, national integrity, and social harmony in Malaysia, illuminating Malaysia’s character and the country’s extraordinary togetherness amidst diverse background.
Cheah noted that DJ Dave not only composed the song but also sang a portion of it. He also rallied prominent artistes and musicians to support the call by the King for a national unity song.
Under his leadership, we now have a unity song Setia Perpaduan with lyrics by national laureate Associate Professor Dr Lim Swee Tin and musical arrangement by Datuk S. Atan.David Cheah Yik Qin, RCAD President
The other singers who volunteered their talent for this “national service duty” are Datuk Awie, Marsha, Suki Low, Jaclyn Victor, Sabhi Saddi, As’ad Motawh, Melissa Francis, Bob Yusof, Sissy Iman, Iesya Toh, Hacharan Singh and Cikgu Asani.
In response, DJ Dave said he was grateful for the award as he had always believed that music and sports have the power to unite communities, stop hate, and create a peaceful, prosperous nation.
I am honoured and surprised to receive this meaningful award from RCAD and I hope this will inspire others to live the Muhibbah way as true Malaysians. As a simple Malaysian who cares, I will donate the award money to various charities in the name and spirit of national unity.DJ Dave
In August 2022, months before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim formed the current unity government, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had requested DJ Dave to compose a patriotic song to unify all Malaysians.
The Ruler had referred to the 36-year-old classic “Setia” (loyal or loyalty) that had soared like a second national anthem, encouraging people to abandon inequality and embrace each other as one.
According to DJ Dave, the King wanted the song to be first sung in Bahasa Melayu, followed by the singers, representing every major ethnic group, singing in their own dialect.
The upbeat Setia Perpaduan eventually became the theme song of the National Unity Week celebration, launched by the King in Kuching back in May this year.
DJ Dave said Setia Perpaduan had a transformative effect on people from all walks of life as the song incorporated ethnic instruments from different parts of the country into the music.
They include a woodwind instrument called oboe from Kelantan, a string instrument called sape from Sarawak, Sabah’s famous seruling or flute, tabla, kompang, and the bhangra dhol.
DJ Dave composed the song with Atan on the piano and sent the melody to three lyricists, of whom Lim returned in two days with three versions.
The artists were excited about doing the song, and I must thank them for their contribution, which was actually a service to the nation. We were all pleased when Tuanku gave the thumbs-up to the song and the video and wanted the artists to perform at the launch of the National Unity Week.DJ Dave