Gambar: Sultan Ahmad Shah bersama Said Zahari (duduk), Zaini Hassan ( kiri) dan Akmal Abdullah (dua dari kanan) di majlis Majlis Anugerah Kewartawanan Persatuan Wartawan Melayu Malaysia (PWM) pada Julai 2009.
KUALA LUMPUR: The 1961 Utusan Melayu strike led by Said Zahari is one with memories which came to the mind of former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin when he heard of the passing of Said yesterday.
Zainuddin said he vividly remembered Said’s action in resisting Umno’s takeover of Utusan Melayu, which caused a split between supporters of Umno and those who were pro-Indonesia.
Said and his supporters lost their battle and were expelled from Utusan Melayu, said Zainuddin.
“However, his feud with Utusan ended when I, as editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia, invited him to attend Utusan’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1989,” he said.
Said, who was former editor of Utusan Melayu and better known as Pak Said, died around noon yesterday at the age of 88.
Zainuddin said Said was the one who hired him as a stringer at Utusan Melayu in Alor Setar in 1958.
He said the note read: “Thank you for your courage and your willingness to ‘bring me back’ to Utusan Melayu. In spite of what had happened you did that in 1989 and now again, even bolder in 2001. Your sense of history vis-a-vis my role in Utusan in the 1950s and early 1960s and your recognition of it is both remarkable and admirable. I salute you for that.”
Zainuddin also described Said as a national fighter who was brave, unrelenting, hardworking, and a tough person with a tremendous spirit.
According to Zainuddin, Said’s courage was best exemplified when he was involved with the left-wing nationalist movement (Pro-Indonesia) during the Indonesian Confrontation that led to him being detained under the Internal Security Act in Singapore for 17 years.
Said was honoured as National Outstanding Journalist by the Malay Journalists Association of Malaysia in 2009, and Press Freedom Figure in 2001.
He had also once become the head of the Singapore People’s Party for a mere three hours, before being arrested.
Said had authored several books such as “Dark Clouds at Dawn – A Political Memoir”, “Towards the Correct Path” (Mandarin version) in 2001, and also wrote poetry and essays while in prison, including “The Long Nightmare: My 17 Years as a Political Prisoner”.