At the invitation of my second cousin Datin Halimah Said, I was back in my hometown Seremban this morning for the launching of Galeri JASA Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Said bin Mohamed, at her family home in Gedung Lalang. It was a most welcome homecoming indeed for yours truly to meet long lost kith and kin, also for a belated Hari Raya gathering.
Galeri JASA commemorates the life and times of her late father and my uncle Dr. Mohamed Said (photo) as the first elected Mentri Besar of Negeri Sembilan, the first Malay medical doctor and an individual of profound literary interests. The gallery houses rare documents of our Linggi-Bugis heritage, his medical research into rare tropical diseases such as elephantiasis, kwashiorkor, gangrene and others, his published memoirs and articles documenting his thoughts and challenges as the first elected MB of Negeri Sembilan after merdeka.
The launch was officiated by Tun Dato’ Seri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, who served as a young District Officer in Negeri Sembilan under the late Dr. Mohamed Said's administration. Tun Ahmad Sarji describes his former boss as "an outstanding Malay leader of impeccable integrity and intellect”.
Educated at the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar and later at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore just before World War 2, the late Dr. Mohd Said was a pukka upright gentleman of the old school and honest to a fault. He served as MB for two terms (1959 to 1969) and steadfastly refused a federal cabinet post as Health Minister under the Tunku, our first prime minister.
After his brief stint in politics, Dr. Mohamed Said went back to private practice for a few years before retiring and leading a quiet life, reading and writing his memoirs*. He passed away after a short illness in 1996. Indeed, his old wooden bungalow turned kampung kindergarten is miles apart from the palatial 4-storey mansion built by an also departed ordinary UMNO politician in Port Klang. (Read my earlier blog: "Rich Politician, Poor Politician", here)
To my mind, the late Tan Sri Dato Dr Mohamed Said bin Mohamed was the last clean and honest UMNO politician. _____________________________________ *Memoirs of a Menteri Besar : Early days Author: Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Mohamad Said bin Mohamed. Publisher: Heinemann Asia, 1982 .
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