Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Mohamed Said bin Zahari 1928-2016

Full name: Mohamed Said bin Zahari
Call name: Said Zahari
Born: 18 May 1928 in Singapore
Occupation: journalist with Utusan Melayu in Singapore, 1952 onward; writer of 3 books
Imprisonment: 1963, for 17 years, imprisonment without trial (which violates human rights)
Demise: 12 April 2016  in Malaysia (he was 87, 5 weeks before his 88th birthday)

Wife: Salmah bt Abdul Wahab
Demise: She died of breast cancer, after a difficult time surviving while Said was imprisoned.
Occupation: Housewife

Children: 4
  1. Roesman
  2. Rismawati
  3. Norman
  4. Roslinda
All his children are grown  up, married and have families. They reside in Malaysia.


Mohamed Said bin Zahari

He was a young man in the newspaper then based in Singapore in 1963 when he was detained without trial in Singapore, for 17 years. His family survived without him during those "Dark Clouds At Dawn". His stories are told in his books which have been produced in English and Chinese. His books can be read at Arkib Negara Malaysia.

Detained along with many other persons, mainly Chinese, he picked up the language and mastered it. Now a fluent Chinese speaker, he lives to tell his sad story.

His wife Salmah died of breast cancer in 2004.

Said  is the father of 4 beautiful children and has many grandchildren. His children are Roesman, Rismawati, Norman and Roslinda. All families are residing in Malaysia.

Martyn See Tong Ming Blog


Maklumat Bahan


(No. rujukan: 2003/0001053; Jenis bahan: Artikel; Negeri: IBU PEJABAT)

No.Penerimaan / No.Rujukan2003/0001053


Said Zahari. 2001. Dark Clouds at Dawn: A Political Memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan.

Said Zahari with his wife Salamah bt Abdul Wahab, 1988.

Said Zahari is Mohamed Said bin Zahari. He last worked as newspaper Utusan Editor in 1963 in Singapore before his unprecedented detention without trial for 17 years. He was released in 1979. 

Said and Salamah rejoicing in their reunion after 17 years living apart. Salamah succumbed to breast cancer and passed away in December 2004. Said continues to live, sticking to writing his memoirs and with financial support from being an Honorary Fellow at UKM.
Their 4 children are Roesman Said, Rismawati Said, Norman Said @ Noordin and Roslinda Said. The children and the fate of their parents are told in many Internet pages and also in Wikipedia. All the 4 children can be found in Facebook.

Said's children (from left): Roesman, Rismawati, Norman and Roslinda, 2008. Photo from Norman.

Salamah was the younger sister of Datin Seri Saliah bt Abdul Wahab, wife of Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin bin Raja Shahbuddin, an early Malay doctor (UM S'pore Class of 1956). Norman was placed in the care of Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin & wife at about age 3-4 years. The 3 other kids stayed with their mother, who had to work to support her kids while her husband was in detention. The sad story is told in Said Zahari's book - Dark Clouds at Dawn. I saw the book at Kinokuniya at KLCC but I did not buy it - I was scared to purchase it. I read the book at Arkib Negara Malaysia in KL instead and I could not finish reading it as it was very sad. It was very inhumane to treat a married man like what happened to Said Zahari.

Said Zahari in his study
Norman bin Mohamed Said @ Noordin.
Photo was taken by me at USM Medical School in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.
Father and son, Said (80) and Norman (49) at Said's 80th birthday celebration in 2008.
Photo from Norman.

Father and son, Said (82) and Norman (51) celebrating Said's 82nd birthday in 2010.
Photo was taken from Facebook.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Yusof bin Ishak

He was the first and the first Malay President of Singapore. He was born in Perak, Federated Malay States under British Malaya occupation. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were Malays of Sumatran Minangkabau heritage. They were descendants of the Minangkabau royalty of the ancient Pagaruyung palace in the central highlands of West Sumatera. Though they were of Minangkabau stock (supposedly a fierce warrior stock), they stuck fast to Islamic values and adhered to living together harmoniously. Many of the Minangkabau men of this heritage married Chinese women, and most of these women, coincidentally, were name Aishah! And almost every Aishah is a Chinese woman married to a Minangkabau man.

I have managed to trace the family tree of Yusof bin Ishak, after our 2013 family reunion in Penang, which was organised by Prof Ahmad Murad Merican. My husband and I then visited Prof Ahmad Murad Merican's parents in Kg Melayu, Air Itam in Penang. His parents were affectionately known as Tok Chu and Nenek. Nenek is related to my late father, and Tok Chu to my late mother - they were of Merican stock. Nenek and my father were Minangkabau descendants.

Nenek related to me her family tree and that of Yusof bin Ishak. Tok Chu showed me the big white rolled sheet that contained my ascendants and familiar names of relatives which I remembered from when I was a a little girl. I never knew their real names. Tok Chu made 7 copies of the family tree, which I distributed to my siblings.

At home in Kelantan, I studied the big sheet that had the family trees of my father's descendants and that of Yusof bin Ishak. I also bought books at the 2013 reunion. I studied them all and then put together the family tree for Yusof bin Ishak, my father and the rest, including Ami Aziz.

When I was putting together my text on Yusof bin Ishak, I had a hard time as I had never heard of him when I was a child, nor did I know what he looked like. I looked through books and the Internet. The only face I knew was that he resembled Walter Disney. I had thought Yusof bin Ishak was Walter Disney!

After watching many YouTube videos and Facebook posts on Yusof bin Ishak, I then could distinguish between Walter Disney and Yusof bin Ishak.

I did not know his wife and family. In 2016, I watched YouTube videos of Lee Hsien Loong on Singapore Rally, and he mentioned Puan Noor Aishah, and there were a few frames of the video clip that showed her. From there I searched her photos and videos online. In Facebook, my third cousin in Singapore, Baharin Thamby, informed me of 3 Bicara interview/YouTube videos of Puan Noor Aishah. The Singapore Malay language used in the video is something I have not heard for a long long time since I was a small girl. It took some time for me to understand, and I played the vidoes several times in order to clearly understand what Puan Noor Aishah said - she spoke real fast! Lee Hsien Loong spoke perfect Bahasa Melayu baku (book style) and that is easy to understand. Most Chinese lecturers in Malaysia today speak this Bahasa Melayu baku. However, the male and female actors spoke Bahasa Melayu Indonesia.

I have not met any of the family members in the flesh. I only know them from YouTube videos and from photos at blogs authored by journalists. There was a lady that sat at my table at the 2013 family reunion. I didn't bother to ask her whom she was as she seemed really sad. I may make her cry. As I look back, I think she could/could not be Puan Noor Aishah. She returned after the function in a big shiny black car. I have the photo somewhere in my many HD.

I have many Singapore relatives. I have only been to Singapore twice - in 1965 and 2011. In 1965, our family visited HABHAL's kicap village in Geylang Serai and we went shopping at Robinson. We also watched Disney on Ice performed in Singapore. In 2011, I visited Singapore to obtain information for my book on The Early Malay Doctors. I had no idea about Yusof bin Ishak in 2011, or I could have asked the people on the street about him and included a text about him in my books.

YouTube videos:
Sejarah Presiden Orang Melayu Pertama Singapura Encik Yusof Ishak

Family, family history and roots:

  1. http://262bandahilir.blogspot.my/Tun Hj Yusof bin Ishak President Singapore
  2. http://theearlymalaydoctors.blogspot.my/Mencari Bako by Aziz Ishak