Former editor of Utusan Malaysia Said Zahari, 88, dies

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Mr Said Zahari, a one-time editor-in-chief of the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Melayu and former political detainee of 17 years under Mr 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 (April 12).

A strong advocate of press freedom, Mr 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.

Mr 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.

Mr 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.