‘Another unsung hero from our anti-colonial struggle in the 1950s and early 1960s has left us. Unlike the victors of history, Said Zahari, age 88, went quietly as he had done for the most part of his life, be it when he was fighting against the British for Singapore’s independence or when he sat in prison for 17 years under Lee Kuan Yew’s rule.
His calm demeanour belied a spirit of steel that saw him bear the cruelty of
long imprisonment without trial and yet not for a moment compromising on his
principles to seek release from incarceration.
Pak Said had publicly called Lee Kuan Yew “a political coward”. He had said
only a coward would resort to jailing his opponents instead of taking them in a
political contestation of ideas and letting the best man win…’ By Dr Wong Souk Yee
Wong Souk Yee wrote a tribute on Said Zahari posted in the TRE. Said was
among the Malay intellectuals of the era when PAP was fighting tooth and nail
with the Barisan Socialis, the left leaning political party then. Said was in
the same company as those arrested during Operation Cold Store and served the
second longest detention of 17 years after Chia Thye Poh, strongly committed to
his cause and like Chia Thye Poh, would not denounce his belief throughout his
Said was tri lingual, fluent in Malay, English and Mandarin, an asset most
feared in the political arena. He was also the editor of Utusan Melayu.
One by one this first generation of political leaders will fade to oblivion
only to live forever in the history books of Malaysia and Singapore.