During the anti-colonial struggle and the process of creating a new nation-state, newspapers played an important role in mobilising the youths of the time to take action and resist oppression. One important figure in the history of local journalism is journalist, poet, and activist Said Zahari (1928-2016).
Said Zahari started as a reporter for the Utusan Melayu newspaper in 1951. He was then appointed as editor of the same newspaper in 1959, and was based in Kuala Lumpur.
As a journalist with high integrity, he defended press freedom from the powers that be. In July 1961, he led workers of Utusan Melayu in a strike that lasted 100 days to defend press freedom for the media. His activism led to his banishment from Malaya.
He returned to Singapore and was appointed the General Leader of the Singaporean People’s Party on 1 February 1963. However, he was arrested the very next day during the infamous Coldstore Operations and was imprisoned without trial for 17 years.
Committed to social justice, this tireless champion for media freedom was a nationalist who rejected racist politics, his legacy is an inspiration to all of us. To honour his legacy, Pusat Sejarah Rakyat, together with the family members of Said Zahari, launches the Said Zahari Young Journalist Award.
Malaysian young journalists who advocate for social justice, civil discussions and positive changes aged 30 and below are invited to submit their reporting with minimum 850 words in length, published throughout 2019 for nominations.
Aside from English and Malay write-ups, other vernacular languages are also welcome (including Kadazan-Dusun, Chinese and Tamil), as long as they are submitted together with translations in either Malay or English.
The winner will be granted a cash prize of RM1,000.00 and up to RM2,000.00 support money to participate in journalism and human rights-related workshops, festivals and media trips. Application opens from 1st to 31st December 2019. Good luck!