Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail



Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail (b. 18 April 1924, Singapore1–d. 4 September 2008, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) was a journalist, political activist, and creative writer, known for promoting Malay nationalism.2 He was a founding member of the Gerakan Angkatan Muda (Geram),3 the PAP (People's Action Party),4 and the National Association of Writers (PENA).5 For his accomplishments in the literary and journalistic field, he was awarded the title, Pejuang Sastera, meaning “literature champion” by the Malaysian Government.6

Early life
Samad, who was of Javanese parentage, was born and educated in Singapore and was effectively bilingual in Malay and English.7 He studied in Victoria School and completed his Senior Cambridge in 1940.8 He launched into journalism almost immediately, starting as a cub reporter in the newly established Malay daily, Utusan Melayu, in 1941.9


Politics
During the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945, Utusan Melayu became Berita Malai – the propaganda machine controlled by the Japanese. Samad was its editor.10 After the war, the British briefly jailed him for a year in 1946 for his anti-British articles.11 Samad returned to Utusan Melayu as its assistant editor after his release.12 He used his position with the paper to promote Malay nationalism.13 His close ties to left-wing Malay nationalists, and his anti-colonial stance led to a second arrest in 1951.14 This time, he was detained at St John’s island till 1953.15 Upon his release in 1953, he returned to Utusan Melayu once again, and also went on to became a founding member of the People’s Action Party along with Lee Kuan Yew.16 However, arising political and ideological differences led to Samad leaving the party in 1957.17

Samad was posted to Indonesia as a correspondent for Utusan Melayu in 1957, where he served only six months before returning to Singapore.18 He left the paper and joined the Straits Times press in 1958, where he would head the Berita Harian, and later the New Straits Times in Malaysia.19 Samad headed for Kuala Lumpur in 1959.20 There, he played a major role in the takeover of the Singapore controlled Straits Times operations in Kuala Lumpur, and the establishment of the New Straits Times.21 He remained a strong advocate of the Malay language and culture, and he expressed some of these thoughts through his Malay novels which he began writing in the early 1960s.22

On 23 June 1976, he was arrested again under the Malaysian Internal Security Act for probable involvement of pro-communist activities, and was banned from entering Singapore for trying to subvert the country using political means.23 The ban was lifted in 1990.24 He returned to the New Straits Times after his release in 1981, and was appointed editorial advisor to the New Straits Times Press group, until his retirement in 1988.25

Samad was instrumental in the establishment of the Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 literary movement in Singapore which champions Malay rights. In addition, he also assisted in the setting up of the National Writers Association of Malaysia, and Institute of Language and Literature – Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.26 Samad was the first Malaysian to receive the Magsaysay award for journalism, literature and creative communication arts in 1994. The award is considered Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.27

Career28
1941–1942: Reporter, Utusan Melayu
1942–1945
: Assistant Editor, Berita Malai during the Japanese Occupation.

1945: Editor, Berita Malai.
1946: Assistant Editor, Utusan Melayu
1955: Represented the PAP at the Bandung Conference.
1957: Moved to Indonesia as Utusan Melayu’s correspondent.
1958: Editor, Berita Harian when it moved to Kuala Lumpur.
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.
2000: Reappointed Editorial Advisor, The New Straits Times group29

Publications30
Novels
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 1944–1991.31

Others
1957: Ceramah2 kebudayaan.32
1958: Kursus pengerusi.33
1966: Kursus wartawan.34
1967: Bimbingan penulis.35

1986: Menimba yang jernih.36
1994: Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail menulis.37
2005: Edisi pagi.38

Awards
1976: Malay Literary Award.39
1992:
Asean Communication Award.40
1994
: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts.41

1987: Conferred Doctor of Letters degree by Universiti Kebangsaan.42
1988:
Named Malaysia’s first Tokoh Wartawan Negara (Journalism Laureate).43
1992
: Knighted by Malaysia's Sultan44


Family 45
First wife: Puan Sri Hamidah Hassan (deceased).
Second wife: Puan Sri Habibah Hamid.
Children: Eight daughters, two sons.



Author

Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman 



References
1. Profile – Abdul Samad Ismail, Tan Sri. (1999, July 12). Bernama - Malaysian National News Agency. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
2. Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

3. Ahmad Boestamam. (1971, November 7) Penjajah Inggeris haramkan pertubohan Angkatan Pemudas Insaf. Berita Harian, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tributes from both sides of causeway. (2008, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Media veteran wins new award for journalism.(1988, November 21). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. One of the least decorated literary scholars. (2008, September 13). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
7. Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics.(1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 82. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI); Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
9. Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

10. Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, pp. 88–89. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
11. Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
14. Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 96. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
15. Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, pp. 96–98.  (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
16. Tributes from both sides of causeway. (2008, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 13; Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 82. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
17. Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 81. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI); Hazlin Hassan. (2008, September 6). Pak Samad laid to rest. The Straits Times, p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 93. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
19. Hong, C. (2008, September 5). Veteran journalist and a PAP founder dies. The Straits Times. p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, pp. 92–93. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
20. Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, p. 92. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
21. Hong, C. (2008, September 5). Veteran journalist and a PAP founder dies. The Straits Times. p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Thumboo, E., et al. (Eds.). (1993). The Fiction of Singapore. Singapore: Unipress, p. 1241. (Call no.: RSING 823.008 FIC)
23. Myine, T. (1976, June 24). KL stunned by arrest of two top newsmen. The Straits Times, p. 19; Tributes from both sides of causeway. (2008, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 13; The Samad dossier: Chua explains. (1976, September 4). New Nation, p. 4; Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Samad Ismail visits S'pore to give talks. (1991, September 5). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Malaysian veteran journalist wins Magsaysay award. (1994, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 19; Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Hong, C. (2008, September 5). Veteran journalist and a PAP founder dies. The Straits Times. p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Malaysian veteran journalist wins Magsaysay award. (1994, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspapeSG.
28. Profile – Abdul Samad Ismail, Tan Sri. (1999, July 12). Bernama - Malaysian National News Agency; Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Said Zahari. (2001). Dark clouds at dawn: A political memoir. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, pp. 77–104. (Call no.: RSING 322.4095951 SAI)
29. Measure of a man named Samad Ismail. (2000, July 21). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
30. Thumboo, E., et al. (Eds.). (1993). The Fiction of Singapore. Singapore: Unipress, p. 1241. (Call no.: RSING 823.008 FIC)
31. A. Samad Ismail., & A. Karim Haji Abdullah. (1994). Ingin jadi pujangga: Kumpulan cerpen 1944–1991. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. (Call no.: Malay RSING M899.2305 ABD)
32. Zubir Said., Abdul Samad Ismail., & Harun Aminurrashid. (1957). Ceramah2 kebudayaan. Singapura: Geliga. (Call no.: Malay RSEA 306.08999205957 CER)
33. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1958). Kursus pengerusi. Singapura: Geliga. (Call no.: Malay RCLOS 658.456 ABD)
34. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1966). Kursus wartawan. Melaka: Abbas Bandong. (Call no.: Malay RSEA 070.07 ABD)
35. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1967). Bimbingan penulis. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Federal. (Call no.: Malay RSEA 070.7 ABD)
36. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1986). Menimba yang jernih. Kuala Lumpur: Teks Pub. (Call no.: Malay RSEA M899.2305 ABD)
37. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1994). Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail menulis. Kuala Lumpur: Creative Enterprise. (Call no.: Malay R 089.9928 ABD)
38. Abdul Samad Ismail. (2005). Edisi pagi. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. (Call no.: Malay R 899.283 ABD)
39. Myine, T. (1976, June 24). KL stunned by arrest of two top newsmen. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Abdul Samad Ismail. (1996, December 20). How life has changed for my relatives in S'pore. The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. (1957–2016). The 1994 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts. Retrieved 2016, August 29 from Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation website: http://rmaward.asia/awardees/samad-ismail-abdul/
42. Controversial figure in S'pore, Malaysia politics. (1990, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Tributes from both sides of causeway. (2008, September 5). The Straits Times,
p. 13; Media veteran wins new award for journalism. (1988, November 21). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
44. Kalimullah Hassan. (1992, June 6). Ex-chief economist tops King’s honours list. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
45. Hong, C. (2008, September 5). Veteran journalist and a PAP founder dies. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
A. Karim Haji Abdullah. (1991). A. Samad Ismail: Ketokohan dan kewartawanan. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
(Call no.: Malay R 079.595 ABD)

A. Samad Ismail. (1993). Memoir A. Samad Ismail di Singapura. Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
(Call no.: Malay RSING 899.23050092 ABD) 

Othman Haji Zainuddin (Director & Producer). (1991). A. Samad Ismail. [Videorecording]. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
(Call no. : Malay RAV 899.23050092 ABD) 



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Writers
Authors, Malay--Biography
Language and literature>>Literatures>>East and Southeast Asian literature>>Malaysian literature
Political activists--Singapore--Biography
Abdul Samad Ismail, 1925-2008
Language and literature>>Journalism
Journalists--Malaysia--Biography
Journalists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors