Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Said Zahari, the man who led the Utusan Melayu strike against UMNO taking over the paper passed away?

Said Zahari - the man who led the  the Utusan Melayu strike of 1961 — a protest against Umno’s takeover of the paper has passed away. Said Zahari was barred from entering Malaya by executive order. He was under Detention Without Trial for 17 years..

“You know you are fighting against the government, and you can never win.” Said Zahari said, “I know I cannot win. But I’m not fighting against the government.I’m fighting to maintain the principle of freedom of the press. I’ll lose — so be it. Utusan journalists will be remembered as journalists who tried to prevent the taking over of newspapers by the government, or political parties in power. That’s all.”

So [the explicit reason for the ISA is] rubbish, to me. Till today, there has not been a case where an ISA detainee has been proven to be a terrorist. The ISA has always been there to intimidate the people. It is at the apex of all sorts of laws that frighten the people.

It may be good to recollect some of what he said in his interviews with the Nut Graph, and also the Malaysiakini..

Ex-top editor, ISA detainee Said Zahari dies

PETALING JAYA: Said Zahari, a one-time editor-in-chief of the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Melayu and former political detainee of 17 years under Lee Kuan Yew’s rule, has passed away at 88.

His eldest son Roesman Mohd Said told The Star that this former journalist, who was involved in anti-colonialism movement in the 1950s and 1960s, died in his sleep at around 12 noon on Tuesday.

A strong advocate of press freedom, Said moved to Malaysia to join his adult children in the 1980s after he was released from his long detention in Changi Prison, Singapore. He continued to retain his Singapore citizenship.

Said, born in Singapore, was known to have led a journalists’ strike against the takeover of Utusan Melayu newspaper by UMNO.

He was detained by the government of Singapore on Feb 2, 1963, along with over 100 other famous politicians and activitists in the well-known Operation Coldstore -- one day after he was named chairman of Parti Rakyat Singapura.

Said, who was struck with several strokes in recent years that immobilised him, was detained without trial under the Internal Securities Act (ISA). Allegations against him included being a communist. Amnesty International declared him as a “prisoner of conscience” in the 1970s.

In a documentary, Said detailed his detention life where he was kept in solitary confinement for long period in poor condition and threatened with death if he did not choose to confess his alleged crimes and cooperate with the authority.

Some of those who were detained together with him were Singaporean politicians Lim Chin Siong, Dr Poh Soo Kai, Dr Lim Hock Siew, as well as Malaysian student Tan Sri Lim Guan Teik. Lim Guan Teik, now chairman of Muda Holdings Bhd, taught Said Mandarin while in detention there.

Said, released in 1979, had written three memoirs linked to his long detention in Singapore.

Despite facing financial difficulties in the past 30 years due to the lack of income, Said had declined an offer of financial help from a local Malay tycoon-politician, he told this writer in a past interview.

Singaporeans and Malaysians who look to him as an icon often visited him in his rented home in Subang and later a tiny flat in Shah Alam.

Last month, National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said visited Said for the first time since their Utusan days. The writer and poet asked Said for permission to kiss him before leaving the flat. - Star, 12/4/2016


A strike for press freedom

THE politics of Utusan Malaysia, with its championing of Malay rights, has raised concerns of late. The influential Malay-language daily is unapologetic about pushing forward the Malay (some would say Umno) agenda, often running roughshod over the sentiments of the other races.

But the Utusan Malaysia of today is very different from the Utusan Melayu of the 1950s and 60s. Then, the influential newspaper was independent, free to voice the concerns of the Malay heartland and take the government to task over perceived shortcomings.

The man who came to embody Utusan‘s struggles back in its heyday was Singapore-born Said Zahari. The actions of the then editor-in-chief were prime points of contestation for Malaysian press and politics.

For his role in the Utusan Melayu strike of 1961 — a protest against Umno’s takeover of the paper — Said Zahari was barred from entering Malaya by executive order. This restriction was only lifted when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister.

For being part of the Singaporean left, he was accused of being a communist, and now holds the dubious honour of being the second longest-serving political detainee of the island state, having spent 17 years banished to Pulau Ubin.

Such a lack of historical perspective afflicts both the man and the newspaper for which he once stood. The Nut Graph sat down with the 80-year-old press veteran and activist to find out what the paper he helped build was like in its more idealistic days; the effects of the takeover of Utusan by Umno; and its impact on press freedom.

TNG: Tell us what Utusan Melayu was like in the 1950s and 60s.

Said Zahari: The people who worked in the Utusan of those years, ever since the Singapore days, were not only journalists; they were also political activists. Journalism and politics were inseparable, because those were the years when we were fighting against colonialism. We wanted to contribute to the fight for independence — and Utusan always played a very important role in that.

When the Tunku (Tunku Abdul Rahman) won the 1955 general election, he knew Utusan supported the Perikatan (Alliance) government. But with this support, we wanted the government to fulfil all the promises it made during the election campaign. We insisted that we needed full independence, not Merdeka setengah masak. That was our line. With the independence agreement with the British, we would still be under the influence of outside [forces] — our former colonial masters, just wearing a different mask. Economically, they would control us, as things such as the rubber plantations were still owned by the British.

I remember telling the Tunku: “Utusan is owned by the Malays. It is supposed to serve the Malay community, not to serve a small group of Malays who are members of Umno. There are Malays in the Labour Party, in the People’s Party; Malays in PAS.”

Umno, at that time, would have only had a couple of hundred members. So it was not fair to force Utusan Melayu to serve only Umno.

Scene of the Utusan strike (Pic from Meniti Lautan Gelora, courtesy of Said Zahari)

The 1961 strike was a reaction to Umno’s bid to control Utusan Melayu‘s editorial policy. Why did they want the paper so badly?

Utusan Melayu was the most influential newspaper in Malaya at the time. Our actual circulation was very small: about 25,000 copies a month, at the most. But a large percentage of the Malay population lived in the rural areas, and three-quarters of our newspapers went to the villages. What they would do was simple: every morning, they’d come to the coffee shop before they go to the sawah. One Utusan Melayu would be shared by so many people. In terms of readership, we probably had hundreds of thousands.

Umno had its own party newspaper, called Suara Umno or something like that. It wasn’t very influential; even some Umno members didn’t read it. They were looking for an alternative, and Utusan was definitely the best option for them.

Why go on strike?

I happened to be editor-in-chief at the time. I was in my thirties. They all said, later, that I was too young, and therefore I took a very tough stance on the issue.

Leslie Hoffman was one of these people. He was the former editor-in-chief of the New Straits Times; he had been in Singapore, with the Straits Times, and then moved up after independence. We were friends for many, many years. When we went on strike, Leslie was very worried. He asked me why I did this, saying, “You know you are fighting against the government, and you can never win.”

I said, “I know I cannot win. But I’m not fighting against the government. 

I’m fighting to maintain the principle of freedom of the press. I’ll lose — so be it. Utusan journalists will be remembered as journalists who tried to prevent the taking over of newspapers by the government, or political parties in power. That’s all.”

A point of curiosity in your memoir Meniti Lautan Gelora is Siaran Mogok, produced during the strike, which started on 21 July 1961. Could you tell us more about it?

Siaran Mogok was a bulletin — a few pages long and edited by Usman Awang — which reported daily activities: what was going on, who came to support us, the issue of why we went on strike itself. It was circulated among the staff, and whoever came.

There was a lot of support for us, from everywhere. There were opposition party members, of course. And  believe me, even Umno people came to visit us to support our strike! Yes, Umno from certain branches. 

They supported us, they said, “Utusan should remain an independent newspaper.”

With that kind of support we managed to carry on, until slightly over a month, on 30 Aug, when I was stopped at immigration [trying to come back from Singapore]. They organised a group of people to break the strike from within; without me they acted. Once there was news that I was banned from coming back, it was the beginning of the split within the camp.

What were the immediate effects of the strike? Was there a loss of confidence, now that readers were aware that Utusan Melayu was biased?

In the beginning, no. In fact, the circulation increased after the strike, very much, almost immediately. It was backed by government support. In fact, that was what (subsequent editor-in-chief) Ibrahim Fikri said: we broke the strike, [and] now Utusan is very rich.

People in general did not really understand the reasons for the takeover. But I told the Tunku a long, long time ago: “Tunku, you want Utusan to serve only Umno; it can no longer be the Malays’ voice. Slowly, people will understand. Even if they buy the newspaper, it will not be because they support you, but because they have no alternative.”

Tunku Abdul Rahman (Pic from Meniti
Lautan Gelora
, courtesy of Said Zahari)

 The Tunku said: “No, no, we’ll make sure it won’t happen.”

“Okay, good luck to you,” I said.

In retrospect, what was the significance of the the Umno takeover?

The death of press freedom started with the Utusan strike, although this was not generally understood at the time. The thinking that it was a turning point was very appropriate, because when you talk about control of the press being taken over by the government, or political parties in government, it started with Utusan.

I told Leslie: “Mark my words. Now that they are taking over Utusan, they are taking over our freedom to run a newspaper as genuine journalists, like you and I feel it should be. In the next few years, even the Straits Times will be taken over by them.”

Later on, when groups affiliated with the MCA started taking over Chinese-language newspapers like Nanyang Siang Pau, people started to remember what happened to Utusan Melayu. Forty years later, and exactly the same thing happened.

“Utusan will become very irrelevant”

JOURNALIST Said Zahari was a seminal force in Utusan Melayu during its heyday as an independent publication. He led the paper’s 1961 strike in protest of a takeover bid by Umno, which resulted in him being banned from entering Malaysia. The ban was only lifted in the 1980s.


A consummate man of letters, Said has written two memoirs, Meniti Lautan Gelora and Dalam Ribuan Mimpi Gelisah (available in English as Dark Clouds at Dawn and The Long Nightmare, respectively). He is currently working on a third.

In part two of this exclusive interview, The Nut Graph talks to the former editor and political detainee about what he thinks of Utusan today, the ketuanan Melayu concept, the role of draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), and what needs to happen before there is freedom for the Malaysian press.

TNG: With the 1961 strike in mind, it is clear that Utusan Malaysia today is a very different animal than it was during those times. What do you think of the newspaper now?

Said Zahari: Now we can see that, although Utusan can survive with government support, they have lost complete credibility.

Look at the recent incidents against Teresa Kok. And then, why has this Chamil Wariya suddenly become a short story writer? I remember talking to some of the Utusan people who came to see me. I said: “What the hell are you doing this? What are you trying to prove?”

It’s because of this kind thing that people will lose confidence. Last week I read a report, referring to Malay-language newspapers, which said that the circulation for Utusan and Berita Harian has come down to about 200,000. It was up to one million before, with the Sunday paper; the daily paper used to have 300,000 to 400,000. Now it’s so low.

I told them: “If Utusan is stupid enough not to see this, then Utusan will become very irrelevant.” Nobody will care for Utusan anymore. Now that people have the internet, they have an alternative.

Senator Datuk Wira Syed Ali Alhabshee, in a statement about the Umno Cheras-sponsored Tabung Azan, was quoted as saying “akhbar Utusan Malaysia milik orang Melayu, sinonim dengan perjuangan Umno, maka tindakan Teresa [Kok] itu samalah seperti menggugat kepentingan seluruh umat Islam.”

They distorted Teresa Kok’s stand on certain issues — the azan, for example. These things have been disproved, but they were all deliberately distorted. They use Teresa Kok as an anti-Malay symbol. So they spread this over, along with the idea that Utusan is synonymous with Umno. Then when Teresa sued Utusan, they said: “We must defend Utusan.” Because she is Chinese, she is from DAP, therefore she is anti-Umno, anti-Melayu, and anti-Islam. But it is not true! And this was not the original issue!

This is what happens when a small group of people manipulate the news, and make use of the name “Melayu”. People don’t discuss the real issue itself. It’s as simple as that.

The Pakatan Rakyat need to do more than boycott Utusan. Particularly, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PAS should go around to the people, to the grassroots, to explain that to play communal and religious issues will not solve the country’s problems.

“Ketuanan Melayu” is a major part of the current political rhetoric. What are your thoughts on the concept?

I just want to say, I don’t understand why Umno wants to play the role of “tuan”. Why do you want to talk about “ketuanan Melayu”? The symbol of that is the Agong — and nobody can touch him. Who worries about a Chinese [Malaysian] or Indian [Malaysian] becoming the Agong? As for economic matters, the constitution and the New Economic Policy guarantee a lot of rights for the Malays. There’s nothing at stake for “ketuanan Melayu”. Enough lah.

What Umno should be concerned for is “kepimpinan Melayu” — orang Melayu jadi pemimpin bangsa Malaysia. In other words, you make sure that Malays can be leaders of Malaysia, for this whole nation, not just Umno.

They make “ketuanan Melayu” an issue because when they are in trouble, they think they can unite the Malays on this. But it won’t work now because of the new media. The different views are well known. People will understand where you try to bluff, to cheat.

You are perhaps most well known for having been detained under Singapore’s ISA, spending 17 years on Pulau Ubin. What are your thoughts about detention without trial? Has there ever been a point in Malaysian history where the ISA was necessary?

The ISA in Singapore is similar to the one here. Both exist not for the internal security of the country, as they claim, but always for the interests of the political leaders in power.

Let’s go back to the origins of the ISA, when the British declared Emergency. The purpose of the Emergency Regulations, ostensibly, was to fight against terrorists — the same so-called terrorists, the Malayan Communist Party, that had helped them during the war. But when arrests were made, not many communists were arrested. There were more leaders of the Malay nationalist groups who were taken: people from the Malay Nationalist Party, and so on.

Said carrying buckets of water during his time on Pulau Ubin
(Pic from Menitis Lautan Gelora, courtesy of Said Zahari)

So [the explicit reason for the ISA is] rubbish, to me. Till today, there has not been a case where an ISA detainee has been proven to be a terrorist. The ISA has always been there to intimidate the people. It is at the apex of all sorts of laws that frighten the people.

Among these laws are the Official Secrets Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, which affect the media directly. You are also known as a press freedom advocate. In your memoir Meniti Lautan Gelora, you observe that the most vocal proponents of press freedom come from opposition parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Are journalists themselves doing enough to defend their autonomy?

Journalists of today work for newspapers owned by certain groups with certain interests. If they do not serve their owners, they may not be able to continue working. There is this struggle between personally thinking of the role of journalism, and the fear of losing their livelihood. People from NGOs don’t have worry so much.
This is why until now I don’t remember any of the mainstream newspaper editors discussing freedom of the press. They may comment on how the anti-media laws affect their daily operations, but they don’t severely criticise these laws.

Because of all this fear, the minds of journalists are controlled. Under these circumstances, the future of the Malaysian media depends on what the journalists themselves think. If their own minds are not free, don’t even talk about press freedom — one’s creativity, the most important tool for a journalist, is gone.

Journalists have to decide that they should be free to express their opinion. Then change can happen. We have to start from there. It is possible, but we may need some time.

What are your thoughts on new media, such as those represented by the internet? What do you think is this nascent form’s role in Malaysian discourse?

The traditional media is now beginning to realise that they can no longer play the most important role in shaping public opinion. The situation has changed. For one, there are all the alternative, opposition papers. But on top of that, there is the internet: news portals and blogs.

The thing about blogs and all that is that people have a medium to express. They comment on each other’s writing — and this is a good thing for our country, because things are becoming more open. You will get a number of people writing rubbish, but it doesn’t matter. I can write, and I may not be right in giving my opinion, but let other people say where I am wrong.

When [Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad] started blogging, within six months he had the most widely read 
Malaysian blog. Why? Because people want to know what Mahathir has to say. Let him speak. And this is the time you can attack Mahathir if you think what he says is wrong.

Former Utusan editor-in-chief Yusof
Ishak (Pic from Meniti Lautan Gelora,
courtesy of Said Zahari)

What are your hopes for Utusan?

I have an emotional attachment to Utusan. Politically, journalistically, I grew up in the paper. That feeling is still there, in spite of my hating their current policy.

When I took over the editorship from Yusof Ishak, Utusan played our role in serving the Malays. But we wanted it to be not just the Malays. Back then, the paper was in Jawi. For our second phase we planned Utusan Melayu Muda, in Rumi script. Through Rumi, we would reach non-Malays; we could serve the Malayan people. Kepentingan rakyat was our focus back then: democracy, social justice, freedom.

Of course, I would love it if Utusan Malaysia could somehow go back to the spirit of the Utusan Melayu of the 1960s. I think there are people who feel like me, but I don’t know how widespread this feeling is.



Said Zahari: Read Chin Pengs memoirs with open mind (Part 1)

James Wong Wing On     Published     Updated
Veteran Malay-language journalist Said Zahari, 75, seldom talked publicly about current politics in Malaysia and Singapore, especially on political personalities, but the recent release of the memoirs of the legendary secretary-general of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), Chin Peng, seems to have broken his self-imposed silence in public discourses.

In an exclusive interview with malaysiakini in his house in Subang Jaya USJ recently, Pak Said, as he is affectionately known, spoke passionately on the history and contemporary politics in both Malaysia and Singapore.

Certainly with a clear time-line in his mind, he even commented critically on "the strengths and weaknesses" of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his former nemesis and jailer, Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and, above all, the 'national tragedy' resulting from the fall of Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Right to know

According to him, he had just obtained a copy of Chin Peng's My Side of History and started to read it, but only very slowly because of the advance of physical age.

"Chin Peng's memoirs should be welcome because people of all races have the right to know what had happened in the past on the other side, and we are now mature enough to decide and judge," he opined.

Asked how he thought about the memoirs, he, without hesitation, called on Malaysians and Singaporeans, especially Malays, to read the book "with an open mind".

Said said he hoped the 527-page memoirs, My Side of History, would also be translated into the Malay language.

He also said that he has started to read the memoirs "to find out those parts of history that even I still may not know or understand, like the many times CPM and the British cooperated during war times, or Chin Peng's life and activities in Beijing in 1960s and 1970s".

He said that younger generations of Malays must understand that all races and many political forces, including the Communist Party of Malaya, fought against British colonialism and for the independence of Malaya.

"The armed struggle for independence was directed against British colonialism, not the Malays or Muslims; and, as a matter of historical fact, quite a number of Malay nationalists and Muslims like Rashid Maidin, Abdullah CD and Mohamad Abu Samah also joined the armed struggle led by Chin Peng," he clarified.

All were multi-ethnic

"Although CPM is communist but its contribution to the multi-partisan anti-colonial struggle must now be recognised by all, including Malays and Muslims".

According to Said, both the pro-colonial and anti-colonial forces in those years were multi-ethnic in composition.

Said was a reporter assigned by Utusan Melayu in December 1955 to cover the Baling peace talks between Chin Peng and Tunku Abdul Rahman. Later, he was also tasked to report on the Tunku's 1956 return to Kuala Lumpur from London after the negotiation for independence.

"In 1957, I became a witness to history again when I saw the Union Jack being lowered in Kuala Lumpur, but at that time, I also quietly wondered if that was the end of colonialism or the beginning of neo-colonialism," recalled the also legendary journalist who was detained without trial for 17 years in Singapore for being labelled, among other allegations, "a communist".

Said consistently denies all the political allegations against him.
Said was detained without trial in 1963 after he was deported back to Singapore - where he was born - by Tunku Abdul Rahman who was also the then president of Umno. Earlier, he led a journalists' strike to protest against Umno's takeover of the independent Utusan Melayu.

In the two-hour interview, Said revealed that he is writing a second book focusing on details of his 17-year detention without trial in Singapore, including physical and psychological tortures meted out against him, and how he and his wife and children survived the many trials and tribulations "with human dignity intact".

"Just as Chin Peng has his side of history to tell, I have mine too," he said with a grandfatherly smile.

Not political enough

Asked why he needed to write a second book, he said that his first memoirs, titled Dark Clouds at Dawn, were "too general and personal and not political enough". Dark Clouds at Dawn was published in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.

"In the second book, I will also write about my opinions and analyses of the then prevailing situations and events like the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Singapore's inclusion and exclusion, Indonesian Confrontation, the Brunei incident as well as the Anglo-American roles in those upheavals," he said.

He revealed that he met Chin Peng thrice in 1955, 1999 and 2001.

"In the 2001 meeting in Haadyai, I also met Rashid Maidin, Abdullah CD and Mohamad Abu Samah; I wanted to interview them for information needed to write my second book," he said.

Rashid Maidin, Abdullah CD and Mohamad Abu Samad were also veteran leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya and the 10th Regiment of its armed units. Rashid, a war veteran of the Malayan People's Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), was one of the two top CPM leaders who were in Chin Peng's delegation to the 1955 Baling peace talks.

Rashid, according to British historian Anthony Short in his book In Pursuit of Mountain Rats - The Communist Insurrection in Malaya (Singapore, Culture Lotus, 2001; first published in London in 1975 by Frederick Muller), was a CPM delegate to the (British) Empire Communist Conference held in London in 1947. Another delegate was RG Balan, an Indian labour activist.

On the progress of his writing of the second book, Said revealed that the first draft, in both Malay and English, would most likely be completed by the end of this year.

Also conversant with Chinese, Said said he wrote in Malay and English simultaneously because he had time and wanted not to "trouble translators". However, he also said the second book, like the first, would be translated into Chinese.

"Good translator will need to empathise with the passion and feelings of the writer, and they are difficult to find," observed the multilingual Malay public intellectual.

According to Said, he learnt the Chinese language from fellow political detainees in Singapore in 1960s, like Lim Guan Teik, and in return, he taught them Malay.

Lim is now the president of the influential Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) who publicly opposed the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press in 2001.

Ex-top editor re-lives days in detention

James Wong Wing On     Published     Updated     0 comments

The second part of the memoirs of former Utusan Melayu editor-in-chief Said Zahari will be published in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English.

It is believed that the publication will be launched by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur soon.

The first part, Dalam Ribuan Mimpi Gelisah: Memoir Said Zahari, was translated into two other languages in 2001, with the English title being Dark Clouds at Dawn.

Singapore-born Said, now 77, was among the longest detained political prisoners of the Lee Kuan Yew government.

On Feb 2, 1962, he was held under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance based on allegations that he was a communist and an agent of Indonesia. It was in the wake of a controversial strike he had organised among Utusan journalists against the takeover by Umno.

However, up to the time of his release in August 1979 at the age of 54, he was never charged or tried in a court of law. He spent a total of 17 years in detention - about a quarter of his life. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International declared him a 'prisoner of conscience'.

In the forthcoming publication, Said will formally call Lee (photo) an "Anglo-American pawn" (tali-barut Anglo-Amerika) and accuse him of acting on behalf of the "neo-colonial" political, economic and strategic interests of Britain and the United States in Southeast Asia during the Cold War.

Said will also tell his version of history of the anti-colonial struggles in Singapore and Peninsular Malaya as well as other parts of Southeast Asia, including Sarawak, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Details of detention

The 265-page memoirs detail his life and experiences while under detention, including being interrogated by the Special Branch and being held in solitary confinement.

He will relate the physical and psychological tortures inflicted on fellow detainees like Lim Chin Siong, and the mental illnesses that some suffered as a result of torture.

While under detention, Said learnt the Chinese language from fellow detainees who were once student leaders of the now defunct Nanyang University.

Said will also reveal that, over the past few years, he has visited several top leaders of the Communist Party of Malaya such as Abdullah CD, Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin, Suriani Abdullah (Eng Ming Ching) and Abu Samah Mohamad Kassim in southern Thailand to conduct his research into the historical background of Malaya and Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s.

He also had a long-standing intellectual relationship with the late Dr Alijah Gordon, an American who passionately supported the Palestinian cause of national liberation.

On the current situation in Malaysia, Said expresses strong empathy with former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim and calls him a "statesman". However, he is also critical of some aspects of Anwar's style of political workings since being released from prison in September 2004.

Said calls for a reconciliation between Mahathir and Anwar, well as for the abolition of the Internal Security Act which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

The author is best known for leading a three-month strike by journalists and other employees in 1961, at then independent Utusan Melayu in Kuala Lumpur. As its editor-in-chief, he was opposed to the takeover of the newspaper by Umno.

While Said was visiting the newspaper's Singapore office, Malaysian premier Tunku Abdul Rahman declared him persona non grata and banned his re-entry into Malaya.

The order was revoked on May 26, 1989 by Mahathir and Said's family moved to Malaysia in 1994.

Two years later, Said was appointed a guest writer by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. In 2003, he was made a Resident Writer of official national security online publication Buletin Malaysia. - Malaysiakini, 9/1/2006

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