National Laureate A Samad Said hauled up by the Police

June 28, 2011

National Laureate A Samad Said hauled up by the Police

by Joseph

National laureate A Samad Said today decried police investigations into  his poem recital during a BERSIH 2.0 event and said the  authorities  are now treating poetry as a weapon.

The septuagenarian was hauled up for about 90 minutes of questioning today at the Dang Wangi district police station on his poem recited during the June 19 ‘launch’ of the BERSIH 2.0 rally.

“Poetry has now become something extraordinary; it has now become a weapon,” he told a throng of journalists jostling to hear the soft-spoken man.

Pak Samad, as he is popularly known, is being investigated under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 27(5) of the Police Act 1967 which relates to unlawful assembly.

The laureate, easily recognisable by his shock of white hair and long white beard, said he was “saddened” that the authorities viewed his poem “with prejudice”.

“In my poem, I did say that we need to purify democracy, not muddle it or pollute it… and in poetry, those are suggestions that are very pure and should be appreciated, not viewed suspiciously.

“Personally, I find it rather strange why this has happened. A writer contributes through his art, to document a situation that is worsening, (but) it is viewed with such prejudice. This saddens me so,” he said.

Samad pointed out that rather than cowing the nation’s literary community, the actions of the Police against him could likely spur a more spirited movement from his peers and fellow writers in pursuing the freedom of expression.

“It may be seen as a warning, but for writers, this would spur them and encourage them as they begin to realise that literature has power too,” he said. “I intended to produce something that was pure, not to incite,” he added.

“It is the actions of the police that will spur the nation’s literary community to respond to his predicament.This act should motivate our literary community (to state their views openly),” Samad said when asked if the investigation into his poem would spook other writers and artistes from going public with their views.

‘Art cannot be interrogated’

Samad’s counsel, N Surendran, slammed the police for launching the probe into his client’s poem, stressing that this could possibly be the first time a literary great is being hauled up for “simply reading a poem”.

Surendran claimed the Police had also asked “strange” questions, which insinuated that the BERSIH 2.0 rally is politically motivated and at other times, matters completely unrelated to the investigation.

“They asked him where he got his datukship, whether the poets at the event (BERSIH 2.0 launch) were paid to read out their poems and they even asked him if the event is politically motivated.

“I cannot recall an instance where a national laureate has even been investigated for poetry… we cannot cross-examine or interrogate art,” Surendran said.

Samad  stood firm in his support for the rally, saying it should not be allowed to be hijacked and turned into a racial issue. “I don’t want to touch on race. This is not about one race going against another, this is about Malaysians… I will be there,” he said.

Samad, a celebrated Malay poet and novelist, is no stranger to protest rallies, being one of the big names who joined the March 2009 mass gathering to protest the government’s policy on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).

A strong proponent of Malay literature, he penned at least a dozen novels and countless poems, and has also worked as a journalist in several national Malay-language papers including Utusan Melayu, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian. He was honoured as a national laureate, or Sasterawan Negara, in 1985.

Suhakam: Respect Freedom of Assembly

Meanwhile, in another related development, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) reiterated its position that it is the right of members of public to assemble and to express their views in a peaceful manner, as provided for under Article 10(1)(b) of the federal constitution, as well as Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The statutory human rights institution has called on the government to respect the freedom of assembly in many of its previous annual reports submitted to Parliament.

The reports also recommend that proportionate and non-violent methods be employed should the police find it necessary to control or disperse a crowd during an assembly.

“The commission calls on the authorities to allow the planned peaceful assemblies to be held, and on the parties intending to hold these assemblies to exercise their rights in a peaceful and responsible manner.

“The commission shall duly monitor the event,” its chairperson Tan Sri Hasmy Agam  said in a statement issued today.


Note: A. Samad Said read out only the last two stanzas of his poem

Semakin lara kita didera bara –
kita laungkan juga pesan merdeka:
Demokrasi sebenderang mentari
sehasrat hajat semurni harga diri.

Lama resah kita – demokrasi luka;
lama duka kita – demokrasi lara.
Demokrasi yang angkuh, kita cemuhi;
suara bebas yang utuh, kita idami!

Dua abad lalu Sam Adams berseru:
(di Boston dijirus teh ke laut biru):
Tak diperlu gempita sorak yang gebu,
diperlu hanya unggun api yang syahdu.

Kini menyalalah unggun sakti itu;
kini merebaklah nyala unggun itu.


As the coals that molest us rage higher
we shout still the message of Merdeka
for democracy as bright as the sun
as pure as dignity our purpose is one

Deep is our worry – as democracy’s wounds
long is our sadness – as democracy’s woes
at arrogant democracy we scorn
for a strong free voice we dream

Two centuries ago Sam Adams decried
in Boston was tea poured into blue seas
no need for riotous shouts full of ire
only for a truly heartfelt fire

Alight now the sacred fire
spread afar raging higher.

29 thoughts on “National Laureate A Samad Said hauled up by the Police

  1. Could this be the beginning of a major Police crackdown on civil society persons and other supporters of BERSIH 2.0, which was mentioned in an earlier thread by Dato Din Merican? If that happens, as a show of strength by the faltering UMNO-BN government, Prime Minister Najib would have outdone Mahathir’s 1987 Ops Lalang. Let us hope that good sense will prevail.

    Allow the BERSIH rally to proceed on July 9. Electoral Reform is a legitimate wish of all Malaysians. We want a system that will enable us to choose a government that truly competent, that stands up for us and that serves us. So may the party that has the best ideas and programmes and the political wall to implement them emerge the winner. We have the right to choose, that is a fundamental right as enshrined in our consitution. Don’t be scared of your own shadow, Mr. Prime Minister, but if you are, we cannot help you.

  2. Things are getting more and more ridiculous in

    Cartoons can be “seditious”, poems can be “seditious”,
    wearing a Bersih T-shirt can be “seditious”, even wearing
    a black T-shirt can be “seditious”!

    We are fast becoming the Laughing Stock of SE Asia.

  3. Even the colour of one shirt or dress can be seditious. A government that is in paranoia will begin to see ghost in everything and everywhere and everyone. Need to send in the GhostBusters.

  4. Dr. Phua,

    Tthat is right. Malaysian political personalities are a bunch of jokers and court jesters. We have become a paranoid nation and our leaders are afraid of the people they lead. If the Government wants our support, it must be with and for the people. After all, our government which claims that we are a democratic nation (read Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Merdeka Declaration (August 31, 1957) must be a government of the people.

  5. Malaysia sakit otak yang begitu terok. The help of a super shrink is urgently need. We have become allergic to the colours of the Rainbow. Mongkut Bean will have to ask his alter ego, Achmed for assistance. What reason fails, we have chaos and we succumb to violent behaviour (that is Police brutality).

  6. The PEN is mightier than the Sword.

    That is what frightens the Police and the UMNO-BN cowards .

    No amount of arrests and incarcerations can you remove the output of the PEN… coming from the space between the ears.

    Bloggers are MORE dangerous to the UMNO-BN government than the Mat Rempits.

  7. This UMNO-led BN Govt is like a frightened cat caught in a corner.

    This UMNO-led BN REGIME is coming close to behaving like Gaddafi Regime.

    ….and the latest news: The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Col. Moammar Gadhafi, his son and Libya’s intelligence director for crimes against humanity, triggering jubilation in rebel territory and formally marking the Libyan leader as an outlaw.

    Might be a long way for Najib and his cousin.

  8. Dato A Samad Said is a man of peace and a patriot. He is also a poet and novelist with a passion for human dignity, justice, democracy and freedom. I read this poem and find that there is nothing seditious in it.

    I see Dato Samad quite often in Kinokunya-KLCC-Suria, browsing through books. He is usually surrounded by adoring young fans, seeking his autograph. We should not humiliate such a man who our country has honoured for his intellectual achievements as a poet and novelist.Well, it is the sign of the times when talent is not appreciated.–Din Merican

  9. “We should not humiliate such a man…” Din
    UMNO has no qualms about humiliating any noble man. If that man speaks against UMNO’s interests.
    but this party will reward any villain, currency smuggler, criminal, rapist or the corrupt or porn actor or even a murderer as long as he supports BN.
    Mat Taib, Isa Samad , Rahim Thamby, Rostam, Chua Soi Lek have all been rewarded with positions. These are scums. None of them are fit to touch Samad’s feet.
    It is acts like these that will distance Malays from UMNO.

  10. ” Alight now the sacred fire
    Spread afar raging higher “. – Samad Said

    Great words from a simple man. It represents the spirit of BERSIH 2.

  11. Wahlau eh……..even old men like Pak Samad is now deem a threat to BN?!
    After spending billions and billions in wasteful submarines, missing jets, etc, it looks like old men are now the real enemies. You bet they are because these are wise people who can tell right from wrong.
    Malaysians must arise, to defend not only your children and their future but also your grandfathers and grandmothers too!!

  12. Jibby’s advisers must be a bunch of idiots whose only interest is money and more money. Even a fool can see where he’s heading at this material moment. How foolish can you be, Najib son of Razak!!!

  13. Di Malaysia ni mana ada pegawai polis melayu yang cerdik, pandai dan professional.

    90% pegawai polis terutamanya melayu adalah kaki rasuah. Pi tanya ex-IGP Haniff. Itu sebab Umno bolih perkuda pegawai polis melayu. Itu sebab pegawai polis melayu rela dialatkan untuk buat kerja bangang untuk Umno.

    Polis2 selepas 1957 mengamal work culture British Police Force. Polis sekarang mengamalkan work culture Umno. Itu sebab tunggang langang. Adakan pi pakai Tee-shirt kuning ada logo ‘Bersih’ polis Umno bolih tangkap. Apa punya melaun. Makan duit haram betul. Gaji rakyat bayar, pi buat kerja Umno. Gaji jadi haram.

  14. The pen is a dangerous weapon no? In any case, it seems like the government is afraid of its own shadow now. Appropriately so. Anyway, why aren’t there people that demand that postal votes be counted first before the ones at the polling stations? I hate it when votes just magically appear at the counting stations.

  15. Dato A Samad Said is a man of peace and a patriot. He is also a poet and novelist with a passion for human dignity, justice, democracy and freedom- Dato Din

    This UMNO-led Bn Govt has lost its soul. It has lost its right to govern the nation.

    May God/Allah save Malaysia, if Malaysians themselves cannot save their own country from the Police, the Judiciary and from the Ruling parties running this govt.

  16. The way other countries are looking at Malaysia today is like how they looked at the Philippines during Marcos and Indonesia during Suharto.

  17. Umno and BN balls shrinked when issue of democracy is touched especially when openly in the light. Are they guilty as ever?

  18. Honestly guys,
    Dato Samad Said is not the least bit bothered about the “questioning” by illiterate, ineducable rabble.. He is who he is and nothing can change that.
    Revolutionaries are led and inspired by those such as him – by the power of the words that meld ‘magick’ into purpose.
    Tyranny with terror breeds contempt for ‘intellectuals’.
    That is what led to the Khmer Killing fields, Stalin’s Progroms and Mao’s Cultural revolution.
    Yes Frank, the only way is Mass Resistance.

  19. Thits is truly baffling, what are the authorities, police & esp the home ministry trying to do ?>
    Novelist, poets & phillosophers is rare like Samad Said , and they express through their thinking prowess… Is’nt it said that the Pen is mightier than the sword ? And, that is sacrosanct !

    Because, the might of the pen is the reversal of the old primitive philosophy of ” might is right “

  20. If society reverts back to the ways of old using brute strenght, it will surely end in confusion resulting in conflicts…

    So all poets, under repressive or suppressive regimes, will use symbolic or poetic or even allegorical language to convey ideas of what amounts to ” truths ” & what false – the very objective of human reasonnings.

    If regimes & govt want suppress the ” pen ” then revert to brute power, which is which that the authorities want ? Truly, unacceptable & society should feel outraged and dis gust. Home Ministry should people should think hard….on this.

  21. My parents (50’s) and grandparents (70’s) who normally don’t give a hoot about politicis in Malaysia are damn pissed off that Pak Samad is put through such indignity. If these senior citizens are pissed off, imagine how many others like them are too!!!

  22. To suggest a parallel between Malaysia under the oppressive UMNO regime and Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge would be a bridge too far. But one cannot fail to miss the similarity. Both regimes are steeped into social engineering. Kampuchea under Pol Pot obliterated an entire class of intellectuals. Be that as it may, nobody is suggesting that the UMNO led government is about to embark on the same journey and murder some 1.4 million of its people. The message to the members of the Malay intelligentsia in particular is that they should hunker down for a long, drawn out trench warfare, a one-sided battle between a resourceful enemy and a depleting line of renegades who don’t know whether they are coming or going.

    Dato’s regular visits to Phnom Penh may be about to take on a sinister motive.

  23. Can’t understand why the poet is interrogated over a poem.

    “Alight now the sacred fire
    spread afar raging higher.”…

    Attempted arson, perhaps? What a joke – a sick one

  24. But you cannot beat this from this UMNO-led BN Govt: Read this below


    It is illegal to wear clothes related to illegal activities, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein says.

    As such, the detention of those wearing Bersih 2.0 T-shirts is justified, Hishammuddin (left) told reporters today.

    “If the Bersih T-shirt is related to an illegal activity, then whatever they are wearing is illegal,” he said.

    To date, about 100 people have been hauled up for wearing the yellow Bersih 2.0 T-shirts, while those selling it have also been taken in for questioning.

    Fourteen DAP and PKR members who were detained in Sungei Siput, Perak, this morning for wearing the T-shirt, were told that it “instigates people to attend the Bersih rally” planned for July 9 in Kuala Lumpur.

  25. The Home Minister is an idiot. A so called lawyer or law lier. Now Malaysia is even dictating what its citizen can and cannot wear. Soon Malaysia will dictate what color Malaysian can and cannot wear. Better still have all Malaysians dressed in sack cloth and have Omar the Tent Maker be the official tailor – monopoly. Wonder what has he been drinking. Maybe too much tuak or air tapai.

  26. Even our Malay-kungfu fighters,The Silat exponents, are going to WAR against BERSIH marchers…

    I thought the creed of martial arts exponents is for defence, not to go to war.

    “…More than 50,000 Silat exponents are prepared to “wage war” with Bersih activists next Saturday, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

    The Mahaguru (grandmaster) of the Pertubuhan Seni Silat Lincah Malaysia (PSSLM) Tan Sri Omardin Mauju was quoted as saying that the exponents were the third line of defence in the country, after the police and military, to ensure national security.

    “We maintain our stand to go to ‘war’ if they still want to proceed with this illegal rally,” he was quoted by Utusan Malaysia as saying.

    “If it happens, I cannot guarantee I can control the emotions of my members because they have been taught to act when faced with opposition.”…….

    THE WAR GAME IS ON… compliments of the UMNO-led Govt.

    Malaysia is like those Arab countries facing the Arab Spring…


    Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah declared that the police’s continued intimidation of those related to Bersih “will not stop the rally”.

    “They (the government) can use preventive measures, which they had already threatened to use, but the rally is not about individuals in Bersih.

    “Even if they catch all (the leaders), this is a citizen’s call for reform,” she told reporters today.

    Can somebody lend me the book, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

  27. The non Malays Bersih marchers should just bring with them minyak babi. The silat exponent will run helter skelter.

  28. The non Malays Bersih marchers should just bring with them minyak babi. The silat exponent will run helter skelter.- semper fi.

    Simply Brilliant! Even Sun Tzu couldn’t have figured this one out!

    Or carry a pig’shead or advertise that their shirts are soaked with pig blood.

  29. Yes, Din Merican..I see you too regularly at Kinokuniya…I patronized Kinokuniya frequently and saw Samad Said quite often too. Infact, I see him at MPH outlets quite often too, but really I don’t see him as you put it ‘surrounded by adoring young fans, seeking his autograph.’ You must be mistaken…
    The day I saw him, he was. The fact you didn’t see him with these fans does not mean that I was mistaken. Pak Samad is now a famous civil society person.–Din Merican

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