Thursday, September 04, 2008


A. Samad Ismail (April 24, 1925 - September 4, 2008)

*Not to be confused with A. Samad Said.

Read here and here.

Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail (b. 24 April 1925, Singapore - ) a journalist, political activist, and creative writer, known for promoting Malay nationalism. He was a founding member of the Gerakan Angkatan Muda (Geram) and of the PAP (People's Action Party). He was Chairman of the Malaysian Press Institute and was also a founding member of the National Association of Writers (PENA). For his accomplishments in the literary and journalistic field, he was awarded the title, Pejuang Sastera, meaning "literature champion" by the Malaysian Government.

Early life
From Javanese parentage, Samad Ismail was born and educated in Singapore, and was effectively bilingual in Malay and English. He completed his Senior Cambridge in 1940, just before World War II began, and launched into journalism almost immediately, starting as a cub reporter in the newly established Malay daily, Utusan Melayu.

During the Japanese Occupation, he did editorial work for the Japanese-sponsored, Berita Malai. The returning British thus had him jailed in 1946 but only briefly. After the war, he returned to the Utusan Melayu as the assistant editor and his influence helped to promote Malay nationalism. His close ties to left-wing Malay nationalists and his anticolonial stance led to a second arrest in 1951. Upon his release in 1953, he returned to his job at the Utusan Melayu and became a founding member of the People's Action Party along with Lee Kuan Yew.

However, disagreements with both Lee Kuan Yew and with the Utusan Melayu saw him leaving for Kuala Lumpur in 1959. There, he would head the Berita Harian and later the New Straits Times. He remained a strong advocate of the Malay language and culture, and continued to explore the complex dimensions of race and politics in Malaysia. He expressed some of these thoughts through his Malay novels which he began writing in the early 1960s. In 1976, he was again arrested under the Malaysian Internal Security Act and was not released until 1981. Upon his release, he returned to the New Straits Times.

1941 - 1945 : Assistant Editor, Berita Malai during the Japanese Occupation.
1945 : Editor, Berita Malai newspaper at the age of 21.
1955 : Represented the PAP at the Bandung Conference.
1959 : Editor, Berita Harian when it moved to Kuala Lumpur.
1958 - 1959 : Chairman, UMNO, Singapore.
1974 : Managing Editor and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, The New Straits Times group.
1981 : Editorial Advisor, The New Straits Times group.
1988 : Retired from journalism.

1963 : Kail Panjang Sejengkal.
1966 : Patah Sayap Terban Jua.
1967 : Tembok Tidak Tinggi; Orang Jauh.
1968 : Menduga Lautan Dalam; Menimba Yang Jernih.
1969 : Detik-detik Cemas; Orang Lama.
1970 : Hussein Zet.
1975 : Sutinah.
1995 : Hud.

Short-story collections
1959 : Temasya Tinta.
1967 : Mastura.
1994 : Ingin jadi pujangga : kumpulan cerpen 1944 -1991.

1994 : Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, being recognised "for applying his intellect and journalistic skills to champion national independence, cultural revival, and democratic nation-building in Malaysia".
1992 : Knighted by Malaysia's Sultan

Wife: Puan Sri Hamidah Hassan (deceased).

Will LKY issue an obituary?

Note: Allahyarham's era of PAP, UM, NST and BH are not the same as today.

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