Former Party Rakyat candidate in 1963 election shares her experience of how she was a “victim of circumstances”

In a loving memory of Said Zahari at the Memorial event on 4 June, his long-time friend, Saleha binti Mohamed Shah, shared her experience of their friendship and her political experience during Said Zahari’s imprisonment.

After welcoming everyone in haltingly voice and told everyone how grateful she was for seeing everyone there, Saleha said that the two of them met in 1948, during their time in school. This means that they have been together for more than 7 decades. She said that they were not exactly friends because Said is a few years older than she is, who is more than 80 years old at the moment, which makes him more of a brother to her.


Accompanied by her husband, daughter and son-in-law, Saleha said that she would not tell much about the good in Said’s as everyone already know about him and shared that she had initially refrained from speaking because she was worried that she will start crying.

After taking up the microphone, Saleha shared about how she became a victim of circumstances.

Said Zahari was imprisoned under the Internal Security Act in Operation Cold Store in 1963 for the accusation of him being involved in a communist plot and had to spend 17 years in detention without trial. When Said was first arrested, he somehow sent a letter to her. He asked her to take over his spot and run for candidacy for the election. So, in 1963, she became a candidate for Party Rakyat in place of Said.

Saleha contested in Kampong Kembangan Single Member constituency (SMC), which was absorbed into Aljunied GRC in 1988, presently a ward with Chai Chee, thus called Kembangan-Chai Chee.

Saleha said that she was campaigning a lot for Malaysia because she was a candidate for Party Rakyat of Singapore and Malaysia.

There were 15,787 voters at that time and only 94,5% (14,914) people voted for this election and there were 163 rejected votes with 4 other candidates competing with her at the 1963 election.

“He (Said) believed in me,” she said. ” He knows I will not give up,” she said. 

She said that she sold her bracelet for $2,000 to pay for the candidate deposit so as to run for the election.

Although Saleha lost the election with 2,674 votes (18,1%), taking the third place among the other candidates. She proudly said to the audience of the memorial ceremony that she managed to win enough votes to get back her deposit, winning applause and much laughter from the crowd.