Achievement by Muhammad Haji Salleh

Anugerah /Awards & Achievement 

YearAwards & Achievement
1973-1984Hadiah Sastera Malaysia/National Literary Prize
1976Hadiah Sastera Malaysia (Persendirian)/ National Literary Prize (Individual).
1975Hadiah Budaya Australia untuk Seniman Asia/Australian Cultural Award to Asian Artists
1977Hadiah Sastera ASEAN (Puisi)/ASEAN Literary Award (Poetry)
Rancangan Pertukaran Fulbright/Fulbright Exchange Program, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
1981-1982Fulbright - University of Michigan, Sarjana Tamu Asia/Asian Scholar-in-Residence.
1986-1988Geran Yayasan Volkswagen untuk Penyelidikan Teori Sastera Melayu/Volkswagen Foundation Grant for Research on the Theory of Malay Literature.
1989-1991Hadiah Penyelidikan dan Lawatan British Council/The British Council Research and Visiting Awards (for a Research on the Antecedents of Malay Criticism).
1991Anugerah Sastera Malaysia/Malaysian National Award for Lifetime Literary Contribution.
Anugerah Sasterawan Negara/National Literary Award.
1991-1992Felo Kanan, Fulbright/Fulbright Senior Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.
1992-1993Kerusi Pengajian Melayu/Chair, Malay Studies, Leiden University.
1997 (Sept.)Lawatan Seniman Yayasan Jepun/Japan Foundation Visit for Artists.
Anugerah Sastera Asia Tenggara/S.E.A. Write Award, Bangkok.
1999-2000Felo Kanan/ Senior Fellow, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.
2000Hadiah MASTERA (Majlis Sastera Asia Tenggara)/MASTERA Prize (Southeast Asia Literary Council).
Penyair Tamu/Poet In Residence International Institute Of Asian Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, September – Desember.
2002Fellowship for Asian Public Intellectuals (API Fellowship), The Nippon Foundation, Japan.
2006Felo Penyelidik Di/Research Fellow, Universiti Harvard: September 2006– Ogos, 2007.
2007Geran Penyelidikan/Research Grant, Kementerian Kebudayaan Kesenian Dan Warisan. Untuk Menyelidik Di Indonesia/To Research In Indonesia.
Geran Terjemahan/Translation Grant, International Center For Writing And Translation 2007, University of California, Irvine.
Hadiah MAPIM, Majlis Penerbit Akademik Negara/ MAPIM (Malaysian Scholarly Publishing Council) Prize.
2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009Sanggar Sanjung Award, Universiti Sains Malaysia.
2008Anugerah Tokoh Akademik Negara (National Academic Award), Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia.
Hadiah Sastera Perdana (Prime Literary Award), Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (poetry).
2009Anugerah Profesor Emeritus (Professor Emeritus Award), Universiti Sains Malaysia.
2012Best Translated Book , The Epic of Hang Tuah, Anugerah Buku Negara 2012. Organised by Yayasan Pembangunan Buku Negara.
Buku Biografi Terbaik/Best Biography Book (Biografi Tun Abdul Razak: Negarawan dan Patriot, with Nik Anuar Mahmud and Ghapa Harun). Anugerah Buku Negara 2012. Organised by Yayasan Pembangunan Buku Negara.
2014Anugerah Tokoh MASTERA, 2014. Majlis MASTERA. Brunei.
2016Anugerah Antarabangsa NUMERA, International Literary Award 2016.
Geran, Hadiah Dan Penyelidikan/Grants, Awards And


Central Contribution to National and International Literary Theoretical Thought

In the  Archipelago, many of the central literary and critical concepts are diametrically  different from those of  Europe, which are in fact quite invalid in evaluating Malaysian and Indonesian literatures, and if used warps the whole idea of success and achievement and the values of these literatures themselves.  Muhammad has researched and written books and essays that have elucidated these local and regional concepts.

In order to be able to shift through the hundreds of texts and oral performances he has to slowly reacquaint himself with the oral stories, dongeng, cerita jenaka, pantuns, syairs, gurindam, pepatah petitih (peribahasa), makyong, wayang kulit, main peteri and the mantras.   Then he must seek out the written works – there are about 1000 titles, and about 20,000 volumes in all, and choose from among them. He needs to look at and read as many as possible to be able to describe our native concepts of:

  1. What is the definition of literature/kesusasteraan
  2. What is a text?
  3. What is the function of literature?
  4. What is literary language?
  5. What are the native literary genre?
  6. What is literary beauty
  7. What is an audience, how is it composed, especially in the open field or in the verandah of a house?

In order to build a POETICS OF THE LITERATURE IN THE MALAY LANGUAGE, he has embarked on a study of the multi-lingual pantun, traditional and contemporary, including the cyber and sms pantuns), Minangkabau, Penang and Betawi pantuns, a transliteration of the Sulalat al-Salatin ( The Malay Annals, the Malaysian work of exceptional genius), a project to collect and preserve and disseminate knowledge concerning Malaysian folklore and also that in written manuscripts. Begun since 1985 in the villages of  Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, and also the libraries of Leiden, London, Berlin, Cambridge (UK) and Cambridge (Harvard).  He has been recognized as a scholar who has been able to describe the ethos, literary culture and philosophy of the Malays/ Malaysians.


Description of the Findings

The Poetics of Malay Literature is a unique work that has been able to define, describe and elucidate the basic concepts of literature of the peoples of the Malay Archipelago. This work has established indigenous concepts of literature and of the very definition of literature itself, kesusasteraan, for literary studies in the region. It has established the concepts of,

  1. the text
  2. function of literature
  3. the author and authorship
  4. genres
  5. literary aesthetics
  6. literary language
  7. audience.

The chapters of the book  have made an extended attempt to excavate concepts that are buried in Malay literary texts  – a work that may be likened to different phases of a project to unearth an epistemology almost forgotten by present-day Malaysians. Though Malay literature is not so fortunate to posses special theoretical documents that discourse on the many perspectives and ideas concerning literature,  but on the other hand, Malaysians are blessed with a great number of the literary works themselves – the hikayats, pantuns syair, peribahasa and ceritera that are in fact live manifestations of these ideas and perspectives.

At the same time he could not fail to notice that these terms are anchored in the contexts of the culture, race and geography of the Nusantara, that has been nurtured by the unique physical and human environments and finally to be translated  into the choice words of the language. The dialogue of man with nature, with his emotions and thoughts has given rise to a  unique literary terminology with its own special focus and field of meaning, that is quite different from those of other literatures. In short, these terms have crystalised their concepts for us to examine and keep.

This study leads to the storehouse of Malay epistemology (compendium of traditional knowledge and wisdom, artistic practices, concepts of art, nature and the world). Muhammad has contributed significantly to this epistemology through his literary poetics.


Impact As A Scholar

As a scholar, poet, and critic  Muhammad has written a total of more than 50 books, in Bahasa Malaysia and English. His  theory has become the main text for the study of indigenous literary  theories in the Archipelago and in some universities with Malaysian studies in Europe (like London, Leiden and Frankfurt). It has a Malay version, an English one (The Poetics of Malay Literature), and has been translated into French by Dr. Monique Zaini-Lajourbert, in 2013  as Le Poetique de la Malaisie.

His work is referred to frequently when studying classical and even modern Malay and Indonesian literatures. As is noted by a lecturer in the arts – in order to know the soul of the Malay one has to read Puitika Sastera Melayu. Unlike other theories, Puitika sieves through hundreds of texts – oral and written – to collate concepts and approaches, ideas of beauty, function and for the first time students could study their own literature, literary works and performances and approach them from indigenous concepts and foundation and not be strained and constrained or distorted by the colonial or early European ideas of literature and performances.

Many books and papers discuss or touch on Muhammad’s theory. It is being taught in some universities and referred to in other universities, courses and assignments. Dissertations and theses have been written and are being written with the use of this theory.


Courses In Universities

 A. Courses in Universiti Sains Malaysia which use Prof. Muhammad’s Theory
  • I. HKN 101/4 PUITIKA DAN KONVENSI DALAM KESUSASTERAAN NUSANTARA. (taught by Dr. Noriah Taslim (School of Humanities, USM).
  • II. HKT 503/4 Contemporary Theory and Literary Criticism. Lectures by Assoc. Prof.  Sohaimi Abdul Aziz and Assoc. Prof. Siti Hajar Che Man (School of Humanities, USM).
  • III. Seminar Bandingan Sastera (Graduate Course). Lectures by Dr. Mawar Shafie at Faculty of Science Social and Humanities, UKM, Bangi.
B. Prof. Muhammad’s Theory is used abroad, in the following universities
  • I. Kesusasteraan Malaysia, Kursus Sarjana Tingkat 2. Lectures by Dr. S. Maman Mahayana, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta.
  • II. School of Oriental and African Studies in `Indonesian Literature: Literature of the Revolution’

As a scholar his works have been translated into English, Japanese, French and Vietnamese



Theses And Dissertations

Theses and dissertations (that have been traced, besides many which are not known) using Muhammad Haji Salleh’s theory, The Poetics of Malay Literature/ Puitika Sastera Melayu or his poetry:

NoUse ByTheses and dissertations
1AWANG AZMAN BIN AWANG PAWI Ijazah Doktor Falsafah/ PhD, Akademi Pengajian Melayu, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. 2008Kepengarangan Muhammad Haji Salleh Berasaskan Model Proses Kreatif Teksnaluri

Some samples of MASTER’S THESES
8Abang Saifudin Abang BohariTesis Sarjana/Master’s Thesis, Jabatan Bahasa,      Akademi Pengajian Melayu,Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. 2004
9Siti Aishah Yusoff“ Estetika dalam Kumpulan Puisi Kanak-kanak Putra dan    Nota untuk Ibu.”  Tesis Sarjana, Universiti Putra Malaysia. 2006.
10Maznun Mat ZainNilai-nilai dari Perspektif Masyarakat Melayu dalam KaryA Agung Sulalat al-Salatin. Tesis Sarjana. UPSI. 2009
11Norhayati AyitKiasan Alam, Kehalusan dan Kebijaksanaan. 2010.  Sarjana, Master’s USM
12SN SulaimanThe Isthmus Between their Lips.“ Master’s thesis. Wellesley University. 2011
13Yusoff, Siti Aishah“Estetika dalam Kumpulan Puisi Kanak-Kanak Putera- Puteri Malaysia dan Nota untuk Ibu“. Master‘s thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia. 2011



Related Researches

Pemikiran Cinta Bermukun Dalam Gendang Melayu Sarawak, Mohd. Fauzi Abdullah, Abd. Hamid Mukri, Roselan Baki Omar Mamat, Raja Ahmad Raja Musa, Ahmad Shahril Rajain Institut Bahasa Melayu Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

“Kajian ini akan menggunakan teori Puitika Sastera Melayu yang digagaskan oleh Muhammad Haji Salleh pada tahun 2000. Puitika Sastera Melayu dipilih kerana ia merupakan teori sastera tempatan/Melayu yang paling konkrit dan lengkap berdasarkan kaedah pembinaan teori itu sendiri yang berteraskan teks.”


Impact As A Poet

He is seen as a pioneer in the new verse form of the 1970’s, introducing a wider horizon of themes, and along with it a more global cultural and intellectual elements. He is also considered to be ahead of his time in his ideas, language and architecture of the poem. His works are both poetic and intellectual, marrying the two strands for a Malaysian poetry of the future. In all he has 14 volumes. He is also a poet of note internationally in English.

His Collected Poems, Jatuh Ke Laut Menjadi Pulau (3 volumes) has been launched in April 2014 and won the Pekan Buku Award.

His selected poems and poetry collections have been translated into 15 languages, i.e.  Mandarin, English, Dutch, Portuguese, French, German, Spanish, Russian,  Hebrew, Persian, Mandarin, Thai, Japanese, Persian and Korean.


Impact As A Translator

He has worked and translated the poetry, stories and literary essays of Southeast Asian writers for 25 years as the Editor-in-Chief, of Tenggara, Journal of Southeast Asian Literature. And is continuing to do so especially when very few translators seem to be around – especially  from Malay, Indonesian and Bruneian into English.

Besides that he has edited and translated Malaysian works into English as in

  • An Anthology of Contemporary Malaysian Literature. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Psutaka.
  • Emas Tempawan: Burnished Gold. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  • Southeast Asian Short Stories. Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Penataran Ilmu.
  • Yukio Mishima, Salju Musim Bunga. Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Penataran Ilmu.
  • Eagleton, Terry,    Literary Theory: an Introduction. (Teori Sastera   Sebuah   Pengantar). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  • The Epic of Hang Tuah. Kuala Lumpur:   ITBM.
  • Facounnier, Henri. Nurani Tanah Melayu  from the French, Malaisie/Soul of Malaya.  ITBM


Impact as a Scholar of Classical and Oral Texts

Has transcribed central texts of Malaysian-Indonesian literature in mansucripts and oral stories to be made available for study and enjoyment of readers.

  • Tun Seri Lanang. 1997. Sulalat al-Salatin/Sejarah Melayu.  (transcription and study) Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka
  • Hikayat Isma Yatim. 2016. (transcription and study) Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Karyawan (in print).
  • Ghairah Dunia dalam Empat Baris: Sihir dan Estetika Pantun Melayu. Kuala Lumpur: Kota Buku dan PTS (e-print).
  • Bila Terkenang Zaman Dahulu: Pantun Pulau Pinang. 2008. P. Pinang: USM.
  • And has been the general editor for this Nusantara Pantun Series since 2004.

Muhammad has initiated a study of Local Knowledge in the USM which is growing into a very complex net of indigenous science and arts that needs to be researched as the new knowledge and application for the future.


Impact as a Founding President

As Founder President for Associations that contribute to the dialogue and awareness as well as fighting for cultural rights, survival of many aspects of culture and literature

  1. Founder President of the Malaysian Folklore Society (Persatuan Folklor Malaysia), 2012-present
  2. Founder President of the Malaysian Translators Association
  3. Founder President of the Penang Heritage and History Association ( Persatuan Sejarah dan Warisan Pulau Pinang. 2015-present
  4. Founder President, Persatuan Kesarjanaan Melayu (Association of Scholars in Malay Studies).

Thus he has made an impact on the scholarly, literary, translation and folklore  scene in malaysia, giving an impetus and much needed boost to studies in these quite rare and rarefied fields of malaysian heritage and intellectual tradition. And he has taken these new findings to the broader world in his conference, journal papers and books.


Books on Muhammad Haji Salleh

  • Panel Anugerah Sastera. 1991. Muhammad Haji Salleh. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  • Zawiah Yahya. 2003. Critical Perspectives on Muhammad Haji Salleh. Kuala Lumpur:  Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  • Sohaimi Abdul  Aziz. 2003. Sasterawan Negara Muhammad Haji Salleh: Pencari dan Pemikir. Pulau Pinang: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.
  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka,  2008. Muhammad Haji Salleh: the Malaysian Laureate. Kuala Lumpur:  Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. 2010. “Seminar Pemikiran Muhammad Haji Salleh”. 9-10 November.
  • Ding Choo Ming, and Azlina Aziz. eds. Festschrift Honouring Muhammad Haji Salleh. 2014. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahsa dan Pustaka.


General Impact

(civilisational, pride of indigenous genius, Malaysian and Southeast Asian identity) ON:

  1. All school children who study literature directly (or indirectly), study the compulsory the Komponen Sastera of the Bahasa Melayu Paper (Literature Component) have for many years  been touched by  my discovery of Malaysian identity in “Si Tenggang’s Homecoming”  – which was taught to their teachers in the universities and colleges. There is a revolution in approach to one’s own literature
  2. Graduate and undergraduate students in Universities who want to venture and discover the genius of literary works and texts.
  3. Many younger theorists like Mana Sikana, Mohd Mokhtar Hassan, Shafie Abu Bakar are emboldened to seek out other paths through the example of the Poetics of Malay Literature.
  4. Malaysians, Indonesians and Bruneians in general can be proud of their very own theory, the genius of their ancestors, that is excavated by MHS.
  5. I have taught for 45 years in the schools and universities, in Malaysia and abroad. At least 10, 000 have taken my classes.
  6. I have given lectures/papers/poetry readings, in not less than 20 countries describing the achievements of Malaysian literature and culture.



Mentoring Abalities

For 45 Years He Has A Few Thousand Students Taking His Courses on Malay-Indonesian Literature, Southeast Asian Literature, Contemporary World Literature. He Has Supervised 6 Phd Students And Several Masters’ Students.

In Creative Writing Courses Taught For More Than 5 Years. More Than 100 Students Were Trained And Guided.

However, I Have Always Initiated Writing Workshops Or Have Been Invited To Speak To Young Writers outside the University.

Monthly, a Salon Literaire, where Young Writers Gather In his House To Discuss The Latest Literary Ahievements Around The World And Talk About Their Own Works.


As Editor, He helped train writers

1978 To 2003. Ketua Sidang Pengarang/Chief Editor, Tenggara, Journal Of Southeast Asian Literature.


Research Grants

YearResearch grants
1986-1988 Geran Yayasan Volkswagen untuk Penyelidikan Teori Sastera Melayu/Volkswagen Foundation Grant for Research on the Theory of Malay Literature.
1977Malaysian Chararcters in European Literature. UKM.
1989-1991 Hadiah Penyelidikan dan Lawatan British Council/The British Council Research and Visiting Awards (for a Research on the Antecedents of Malay Criticism).
1991-1992Felo Kanan, Fulbright/Fulbright Senior Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.
2006 Research Fellow, Harvard-Yenching, Harvard University.
2010-2012Penang Malays. USM.
2013-2015To research Malay poetics, third edition.