Best remembered as the composer of Singapore's national anthem, "Majulah Singapura" (English title: "Onward Singapore"), he also had a more than decade-long career as a composer with a Malay movie production company called Cathay-Keris Film Productions.
He learned to play the flute during his primary school years; by middle school, he was proficient on drums and guitar. He moved to Singapore in his early twenties and began his music career with a Malay opera company.
His numerous cultural and artistic awards include the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat, the Sijil Kemuliaan, and the Jasawan Seni Award.
He grew up in West Sumatra, Indonesia, in a family of eight children. After settling in Singapore and marrying, he became the father of one son and four daughters.
He and Latvian musician Karlis Baumanis both became famous for composing their countries' national anthems.