IT’S not easy for politicians to accept the fact that their time is up, that they are no longer relevant. A year in politics is sometimes too long, especially when your opponents are out to get you. So when you have to leave, do so with integrity, honour and dignity.

Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Said Mohamed was the first menteri besar of Negri Sembilan, serving the state for two terms from 1959 to 1969. He was not a career politician, but a doctor who was persuaded by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein to serve the country as a political front liner in the decade immediately after independence.

As a government doctor in Pahang, he had examined the 11-year-old Razak to declare him fit for entry into the Malay College Kuala Kangsar

The young pupil came back often to borrow books from the doctor, declaring that his ambition was to be an orator. They were to meet again in England in the late 1940s, where their camaraderie grew as Malayan compatriots in a foreign land.

Having grown up with disease and poverty in remote Kampung Linggi, and having worked with more of the same among rural Malays in Pahang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan, Dr Said saw politics as an extension of his service to the country.

As Tun Ahmad Sarji Hamid says in his book Given in Trust, for Dr Said, “it was conviction rather than power or prominence, which always prompted him to take particular decisions, including political ones”.

Indeed, it must have been conviction that led him to turn down the then prime minister’s offer of a cabinet post as minister of health.

In a personal note dated March 31, 1969, Tunku Abdul Rahman had written: “I have received the recommendation from our Election Committee to the effect that I should appoint you as a cabinet minister rather than allow you to stay in Negri Sembilan as menteri besar. There seems to be a lot of opposition to you there, that you have not done much for the party and that there should be a change in the leadership in the Negri Sembilan Umno as Negri is the only state in Malaysia where Umno possessed no building of its own as its headquarters.

“If you agree to stand for Parliament, I shall be only too happy to appoint you as a minister.”

In his reply dated April 1, 1969, Dr Said wrote: “After you were kind enough to meet the delegation of Negri Sembilan Umno, MCA and MIC members numbering more than 30 at 6pm yesterday, I have only to confirm in writing my decision not to stand for Parliament and, if successful, be made a minister.

“I am unable to express in words how sorry I am to decline your generous offer, but there is no other course open to me in view of the strong pressure from my constituents and the present MCA and MIC leadership to make me contest the Linggi state seat again.

“Besides, I must frankly admit that I have a distaste for a ministerial post and feel that I have no aptitude for it.”

As a daughter, it is not my place to sing my father’s praises. In fact, having researched his medical, political and administrative careers to write a biography, I have put the project aside not knowing how best to approach it.

Interviewing the people who knew and worked with him, I am happy to learn their impression of Dr Said is good. They remember him as a man of principles in his administrative and consultative roles, and as a politician who stood his ground against all forms of corruption and power abuse, including those of the royal house.

In the same book Ahmad Sarji says of Dr Said: “It brought me into an instructive association with a man of intellect and of the highest integrity.”

Perhaps, what I should do is to publish excerpts from his meti-culously kept diaries, letters and articles where he documented every event and incident of importance, where his impressions of the protagonists and antagonists are recorded for posterity.

What I must proudly admit is that my father was quite the Anglophile with words and manners, developed from a strong English education in Malay College Kuala Kangsar taught by the excellent English teachers of that era. But at heart, Dr Said was a true Malay gentleman who had the greatest respect for his friends and colleagues, subordinates and superiors, however and wherever they were placed in the social hierarchy.

Having had several run-ins with the Negri Sembilan royal house, he wrote the most respectful letter to the then Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan dated May 7, 1969: “Before vacating my post as menteri besar of Negri Sembilan, I am taking the liberty of addressing this farewell letter personally to your royal highness, and of asking your forgiveness in case I have displeased or offended your royal highness during the last two years…

“For the rest I vacate my post with a clear conscience…”

.Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Said Mohamed was the first elected menteri besar of Negri Sembilan

Read more: POLITICAL INTEGRITY: A truly towering Malaysian – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/political-integrity-a-truly-towering-malaysian-1.228198?cache=03%252F7.198169%3Fpage%3D0%3Fpage%3D0%2F7.248346%2F7.261895#ixzz2MZTkruYF



  1. 1 Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara
    March 7, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Hi Halimah,
    Wonderful article. My letter to letters to Editor NST 2 days ago is below. Unlikely they will print. So I thought you should know about it.

    Dear Editor,

    Thank you……. Halimah Mohd Said……. for sharing “POLITICAL INTEGRITY” (NST Mon 4 Mar 2013). I sound like Jimmy Fallon on his late night show on Astro CNBC television.

    You said “As a daughter it is not my place to sing my father’s praises”. No. It is your duty. Our society has become so selfish we do not care, learn from and share with others, about all the sacrifices certain members of our previous generation have done. Many only sing praises about people who they can take advantage off !!!

    A very important lesson for all our leaders to learn from your article. Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Said Mohamed on vacating his post as menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan on May 7,

    1969 said”…..I am asking your forgiveness in case I have displeased or offended your royal highness……..”

    Serve with integrity and if you have to vacate your post do it !!!

    Son of a headmaster (1956 to 1970) who had “EDUCATIONAL INTEGRITY”.

    Petaling Jaya.


    Thank you. I hope you will keep my name confidential.
    Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara

    Note : Tun Eusoff Chin spoke about my late father (passed away in 2003) in Berita Harian around early 1990’s.
    Rashid Yusof in his NST column 2 Mar 2012.
    Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the SUN 3 Aug 2007

  2. 2 ninitalk
    March 8, 2013 at 7:50 am


    I refer to the opinion piece entitled “Of mentris besar and mentris” by
    Halimah Mohd Said, 3 March 2013 and find it necessary to make some

    I never got to know Dr Mohamed Said Mohamed personally although I knew
    who he was as I was already a young adult when he was in his second term as
    the mentri besar of Negri Sembilan. I am not a politician, but like Halimah
    Mohd Said, I too have been following developments in Malaysian politics.

    One day in 1974, I was among a group of non politicians who met the late
    Dr Tan Chee Khoon at a private discussion on the country’s political
    situation then. At that time Dr Tan was still active in politics as an opposition
    (Pekemas) MP and if I remember correctly, also a Selangor ADUN. Among the
    topics discussed was one which I can still remember after nearly 40

    Dr Tan Chee Khoon told us that to his knowledge and in his opinion, the
    only BN Menteri Besar, past and present (present at that time) who was
    absolutely not corrupt and at the same time did not tolerate corruption
    under his administration was Dr Mohamed Said when he was the MB of Negeri
    Sembilan. Dr Tan had only good things to say about Dr Mohamed Said as a
    menteri besar.

    Halimah Mohd Said does not have to be apologetic about singing her
    father’s praise. A personality in the form of Malaysian Parliament’s one time
    ‘mister opposition’ sang the same praise on her father.

    c h ong

    petaling jaya

  3. 3 ninitalk
    March 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

    You should feel really to be blessed to have Tan Sri Datuk Dr Mohamed
    Said as your father. I don’t know anything about Tan Sri but having read your
    article I am astonished and sad how could this country which had great
    personalities like your dad has gone down in drains.

    It is superb that you wrote about Tan Sri, otherwise this piece of
    valuable info… selfless service, no greed for power, money or position will go
    unnoticed forever from young Malaysians like us.

    Puan continue to write as much as you could for this blessed nation needs
    people like to salvage whatever that is left behind after the easy and
    careless plundering of the nation’s wealth by the corrupted politicians.

    God Bless

    G Jeyanathan

  4. 4 ninitalk
    March 8, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Though I have been reading your column occasionally, I never knew that
    you are the daughter of that *Great Man Dr Mohd Said*. Your father was a man
    of integrity was pushed into politics and took the job as you have said
    very rightly that to him “politics as an extension of his service to his
    nation and to the people”. Which he carried out successfully during his
    tenure as Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan.

    I could remember many years after retirement he wrote a letter to the New
    Straits Times ( It could be in 70’s ) stating about the UMNO building and
    the current politics.

    Will ever our tanah air will get a statesman like him to be a politician.

    You must be proud to be a daughter of such a clean politician.

    Kumarasamy Govindasamy

  5. 5 Thumb Logic
    March 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Yes, we need leaders whose politics is driven and guided by their principles rather than leaders whose principles are driven and guided by politics. All over the Third World we find that countries that are rich in natural resourses have been driven to bankruptcy by bad governance. In the meantime countries without natural resources, except for manpower, have joined the ranks of the First World. We who live in the Third World are resting on our laurels or should I say rusting on our laurels.

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