Lest We Forget


Compiled by Faruq Bostaman

A sparkling star difficult to replace

Rosli Abidin Yahya

SEPTEMBER 18, 2010 – Veteran actress Pengiran Hajah Maskuin binti Pengiran Haji Ahmad was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia doing her Hari Raya shopping when one of her friends sent a message informing her that veteran actor Haji Rais Banih was lost in the waters of Jerudong on August 29.

She just arrived in Kuala Lumpur a few days before that and she intended to spend several more days to complete her shopping.

“But I could not do so. I know I must return to Brunei being a close friend of him in acting for many years since 1970s.

“I could not go the next day but I managed to get a flight the day after that,” she said, with tears streaming down her face. Upon arriving, she went straight to Jerudong to stand vigil with fellow actors and actresses as well as fans.

“I went there when his body was found on the evening of September 1 and together with my family members we attended his funeral in the early hours of September 2 at the public graveyard of Kubah Makam Diraja in Batu Satu, Jalan Tutong.

“I am sorry I could not stop being sad whenever a conversation about him started. You must know how close we had been over the years, like brother and sister,” she added, sobbing.

Pengiran Hajah Maskuin binti Pengiran Haji Ahmad (left), the late Haji Rais Banih (right) during a scene in ‘Keluarga Liau Badar’
Pengiran Hajah Maskuin and the late Haji Rais discussing script with the late Pengiran Haji Tajuddin bin Pengiran Haji Tengah, RTB drama director

Pengiran Hajah Maskuin is better known as the Bu Hajah Kayah, the “screen wife” of Liau Badar, the most famous screen name of the late Haji Rais.

Acting together as husband and wife in over 70 drama productions, the two appeared in various series such as Keluarga Liau Badar, Carik-carik Bulu Ayam, Riang Ria and many more including one of the most successful drama productions, Di Atas Lantai Di Bawah Bumbung directed by talented producer Azzamain bin Dato Haji Adanan, with the script written by Zefri Ariff Brunei.

The drama production produced in 1990s received high accolades from the public and many consider it one of the best dramas ever produced by Radio Television Brunei (RTB).

The pair first acted in drama production titled Sayang Kak Siti in 1970s when RTB started its service.

Both of them in 2006 were named RTB Best Actor and RTB Best Actress.

The late Haji Rais also received the Anugerah Seniman from RTB the same year.

Pengiran Hajah Maskuin said she found the late Haji Rais as a near perfect person and a real artiste.

“In my years, I never heard him talking bad about other people nor did he attend conversations that talked bad about others.

“He was a quiet person and during filming he spent his time in one corner memorising scripts or sleeping while waiting for his scenes to be filmed.

“To me he was a near complete person with high morals and an excellent personality,” she said.

She also found the late Haji Rais as very helpful and who did not mind sharing to newcomers his knowledge in acting. He was very patient and he accepted any scene characters given to him.

“However, he was more known as a comedian even though his real character was totally different. A quiet and nice person.

“That showed how talented he was. He could act funny even though as a real person, he was very reserved.”

Pengiran Hajah Maskuin said she never met a person who was very dedicated to acting and did not bother about payment.

“He never questioned about payment at all or talked about it among us

“He even made his own screen attire in accordance to the character he was given, without question (and) using his own money. I consider the local drama has lost a sparkling star which is difficult to replace after his untimely departure.

“I just hope talents who want to start a career in acting could learn from him in terms of work discipline as he was a person who never came late for filming.

“Once in a while he might ask permission to pick up his grandchildren from schools but apart from that, he was always punctual and on site as required.

“He would leave only after his scenes had been filmed. This kind of discipline is very difficult to be equalled by me.”

Pengiran Hajah Maskuin said the late Haji Rais was fated to be called to return to Allah the Almighty the way it was and all his acting friends and fans must accept that fate indeed played a major role in our life.

“Fishing has been his hobby over the years. He did not sell his catch which was for his own consumption and to be given to his friends.

“Many times in the past, he would stop by my house to give fish that he caught for free after he ended his catching spree. And he never went very far from the shore to go fishing so everyone could see him in his boat from the shore. But as I said earlier, he was fated to end that way and we must accept that.”

She said the late Haji Rais was supposed to act with her this September 16 for the drama production Mun Faham Bisai.

“I can imagine how sad we will be on September 16,” she said wiping the tears from her face.

Meanwhile, Amal Nur Aiman HMK, better known as Dang Piah, who acted as the grandchild of the late Haji Rais in the drama production Mun Faham Bisai, also spoke highly of him.

“The late Haji Rais was like a father to me who has guided me and given me valuable tips in acting.

“I have acted with him in several productions and I feel sad and I can’t believe that he is no longer with us anymore,” she said. Amal started acting in 2000.