Part 1 – Said Zahari

Welcome to Part 1 of the Monsoons Book Club’s digital exhibition, comprising a film and songs about Said Zahari!


About Said Zahari


Popularly known as Pak Said, Said Zahari, the poet and journalist, became the second longest serving political prisoner of Singapore, imprisoned for 17 years under the Internal Security Act, detained without trial by the Singapore government. He was a prisoner of conscience of Amnesty International.

1. A film – “Zahari’s 17 years”

The film is about Said Zahari’s account of his arrest and detention following his election as chairman of Parti Rakyat Singapura. This film was made by Martyn See, a film maker in Singapore.  Several of his works are banned in Singapore, including this one on Said Zahari.

‘When the government banned my film on opposition leader Chee Soon Juan and placed me under police investigation, I decided to counter the move by not succumbing to fear but instead make another film. At that time, I was reading Said Zahari’s “Dark Clouds At Dawn” and I knew right away that I had to put him on camera. His retelling of his 17 years under ISA detention is nothing short of compelling. I wasted no time tracking him down to his residence near Kuala Lumpur and he was more than agreeable to be interviewed. Zahari’s 17 Years marked the first time that a Singaporean ex-political prisoner spoke on camera, unrestricted and uncensored. Needless to say, the film was banned and remains criminalised to this day.’

  • Martyn See (2015)


2. Audio – Five Songs  

Said Zahari continued to compose poems while incarcerated in prison. Some collections of his poems have been published, notably “Poems from Prison (Puisi dari Penjara)”.  

A collection of some poems have been put to music.

There are 5 songs selected from the CD album “Salute to Said Zahari”. The CD is  a compilation of Said Zahari’s poems sung and recited in English, Malay and Chinese.

The songs featured are:

Anti- Nasional; composed 1963

Jeritan; composed 1963

Azam; composed 1963

Born Unfree; composed 1963

And His Name is Said

The poem “Born Unfree” was composed when Said Zahari learnt of the news that his daughter was born while he was in prison.

The song “And His Name is Said” is a tribute to Said Zahari that was composed and sung by the late Francis Khoo, in 1977 is showcased in the CD.

NB: If you are interested in getting a copy of the songs album CD or a copy of his book, please email