(16 July) Said Zahari’s ‘The Long Nightmare’ July 7, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Current Affairs, Democracy, Heritage, History, Human Rights, Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics, Southeast Asia.
The second part (English/BM version) of Pak Said’s trilogy/memoirs will be launched 16th July.
The Long Nightmare recounts his years in detention without trial under ‘Operation Coldstore’ 1963, which saw the arrests of 107 politicians and trade unionists in Singapore, including Barisan Sosialis‘ Lim Chin Siong, Dominic Puthucheary and S. Woodhull. Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP later swept the elections that year.
Pak Said was only 34 when he was taken away on February 12, 1963. By the time he was released, he was already 51 years old.
Last year, we had asked Pak Said to give the keynote speech at our Suaram fund-raising dinner. But as he had some difficulties moving about after a mild surgical procedure, he had opted to do it via video.
To our pleasant surprise, our videographers returned with a recording of his speech done in fluent English, Bahasa Melayu and Mandarin, the latter he picked up from his fellow detainees. Fine, learned intellectuals like Pak Said are hard to come by these days.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of those arrested under the Internal Security Act (without trial again) for allegedly being part of a ‘Marxist Conspiracy’ on both sides of the border. It began first in Singapore, then later in Malaysia.
Please try to make time for this momentous event. Below is a piece by James Wong on the book launch.
(6 July, Malaysiakini.com) The Malay and English editions of veteran Malay-language journalist Said Zahari’s second memoirs The Long Nightmare – My 17 Years as a Political Prisoner will be launched by Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin.
According to Said, the book launch will be held at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Kuala Lumpur on July 16.
“Everyone who is interested in alternative history and my side of the story, especially the younger generations, are welcome to the book launch to participate in discussions and exchanges of ideas,” he added.
Both the editions are published by Utusan Publications and Distributions which also owns and operates the mainstream Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia.
While Zainuddin was the editor-in-chief of the Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia from 1982 to 1992, the Singapore-born Said served also as the editor-in-chief of the independent Utusan Melayu in Kuala Lumpur from 1959 to 1961 before he was ordered to leave Malaya by first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Said had ruffled feathers for leading a three-month long journalists’ strike against the Umno takeover of the newspaper.
Detained without trial
He was subsequently detained without trial in Singapore in the 1963 Operation Cold Store together with some 100 left-wing political activists, journalists, leaders of labour and student unions who were deemed by Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP government to be ‘security threats’.
Said was held for 17 years for allegedly being a “communist” and “Indonesian agent.” The charges have never been substantiated or proven in any court of law.
Said, still a citizen of Singapore by law, settled in Malaysia together with his wife and children as permanent citizens in 1996 while former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was also home minister.
In the second memoirs to be launched, Said expresses his gratitude to Mahathir for granting him and his family the right to settle in Malaysia. Said was later appointed as a guest writer of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
Last Sunday, the Chinese-language edition of The Long Nightmare – My 17 Years as a Political Prisoner was launched at the privately-funded Chinese-medium Southern College in Johor Baru by University Malaya’s leading expert of Chinese language and culture, Assoc Prof Dr Chia Ai Ping (谢爱萍博士) as well as Said’s fellow ex-detainee in Singapore, Dr Lim Hock Siew (林福寿医生).
Lim was a top leader and intellectual of the left wing Socialist Front in Singapore before 1963. He was also detained without trial for 17 years for his alleged involvement in the so-called “Communist United Front.” (byline: James Wong Wing On)
(See Martyn‘s video of the Johor launch below last week on 1 July)