Please cite the source if any of you happen to extract any information from this site; Aiman and I have sourced for information and research with hopes to make this mini-exhibition a successful one. Plagiarism is not allowed, just cite the source(s) according to the American Psychological Association (APA) format.
even the falling leaf
is always beautiful".
(Malay poem "Penyair", A. Samad Said).
A. Samad Said, or his real name Abdul Samad Muhammad Said is the fourth National Laureate who was born in Kampung Belimbing Dalam, near Durian Tunggal, Melaka on April 9th 1935 but was raised and received his education in Singapore. His father was a tram inspector and brought the family to the city and they lived near Sungai Rochore in Singapore.
He had a terrible experience growing up in Singapore as his father was a drunker and a gambler who always neglect his duty in the family. He had been schooling for approximately three months and managed to write and read when Singapore was bombed by the Japanese soldiers. His mother gave birth to his brother during the war period and he had to take over the duty as the father; went to call the midwife and scavenged for leftover food in the drain.
During the interview held with A. Samad Said early this month, he concluded that he grew up to be an adult at that time; made friends with people from the older generation and together experience the bitterness of war to the society. He mentioned that an uncle in Singapore registered his age in advance for four years (from eight to twelve years old) so that he could get the adult portion for the food ration. His actual birthplace had also been changed permanently in his identification card when the British came back to regain power in Tanah Melayu. He had to live with the fact that he was born in Singapore on 1932 although many trials had been made to change it after Tanah Melayu gain its independence.
A. Samad Said completed his primary education at Kota Raja Malay School until Standard Four during the World War II period, and later attended a Japanese school “Shihang Gakko” for three months during the Japanese Occupation. After the Japanese Empire surrendered, he was among eighty students who were accepted to further their studies at an English school, Victoria Institution and graduated with a Senior Cambridge Certificate in 1956.
He attended a Special Malay Class and became a member of Raffles Library so he could borrow a lot of reading materials from the library. The students there were also advised to read a lot of English books and that was when he started to fall in love with Enid Blyton’s books. Besides, he managed to learn the works of English literature and got to know the authors in English through the English Literature subject taught in his class (Sarah Sadon, 1995).
He also added that it was at that school that he developed his passion for writing so he frequented cheap book stores in Brass Basah Road and Sungai Road. He started reading Erskine Caldwell, John Steinbeck, Earnest Hemingway and Robert Frost during that time. He was also interested in Japanese literature through the works of Osamu Dazai, Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and Junichiro Tanazaki and unexpectedly read Germany, France and Yugoslavia’s literature too. Writers like Camus, Mann and Ivo Andric are among those he admires (A. Samad Said, 1992).
After he graduated from Victoria Institution, he worked as a clerk in Singapore General Hospital for three months before was later appointed as a journalist in Fikiran Rakyat under the supervision of Ahmad Boestamam. He also went to a corporate course at Ashrigde Management College, England in journalism and worked in Utusan Melayu six months after. His passion in writing begins here after he made friends with Usman Awang as well as Keris Mas and he started to indulge himself in the world of writing when the newspaper company was still based in Singapore.
In 1957, he moved to Kuala Lumpur and commenced on writing novels, short stories, poems and plays. His work of art initially brought up the issues of youngsters which are based on his own experience such as in the short story “Hari Ini Hari Gembira”. Soon after that, he started to write about the life of a second class society like in the play “Lantai T. Pinkie” or the translated version, “T. Pinkie’s Floor”.
His lists of famous novels are Salina, Cinta Fansuri (Fansuri’s Love) and Hujan Pagi (The Morning Post). The first novel he wrote, Salina surprisingly won the Hadiah Sastera Malaysia for the year 1984/1985 and that motivated him to write a lot more. He also writes poems such as Seuntai Kata untuk Dirasa, Ke Desa Warisan, Gagak Parit or the translated version “The Dead Crow” which was once used as a part of Form One text for English literature in Malaysian secondary school. In addition, he had recently finished composing a poem, Elegi Suria & Bumi which has just been published in his Facebook page.
A. Samad Said has been writing for more than thirty five years and received a number of recognition locally and internationally. He was named the Pejuang Sastera (Literary Exponent) by Malaysian linguists on May 1976; Southeast Asia Write Award in 1979 then obtained the title Sasterawan Negara in 1985 and Sasterawan Nusantara in 1999 due to his contribution in Malaysian’s literary heritage (Sarah Sadon, 1995). In 2003, he received the Honorary Doctor of Literature Education from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris and now at the age of seventy years old plus, he is still active in writing and reciting poems at various writers meeting.
He is also now actively involved in the political scene in Malaysia, vocally stressing about injustice he sees in this country through his poems. He also monitored his Facebook page with the help of his children and publishes his works independently. He lives in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur with his wife and can be recurrently seen hopping in and out of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) train at Bangsar Station. He also carries a diary which keeps the memory of his life, and preserves his works of art from past to present life and a notebook to scribble anything that inspires him from his observation.