Syed Mohamed Syed Ahmad Alsagoff

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Syed Mohamed bin Syed Ahmad Alsagoff (Arabic: سيد محمد بن سيد أحمد السقاف‎‎ Sayyid Muḥammad bin Sayyid Aḥmad as-saqqāf) was an Hadhrami Muslim born in Singapore. He had his education at Victoria School and later joined the Malayan Armed Forces, the predecessor of the Malaysian Armed Forces. He rose to the rank of major-general before his retirement in the 1970s. His mother was Raja Siti the daughter of Hajjah Fatimah.[1][2][3][4]

When Singapore was part of Malaysia from 1963 to 1965, he was the commander of the Singapore armed forces, holding the rank of brigadier. The Singapore armed forces consist of the 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade which has two infantry regiments of about 1000 soldiers each.[5] The forces moved out of Singapore completely in November, 1967.

Modernization of Singapore Armed Forces[edit]

Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, revealed that it was Brigadier Alsagoff who was instrumental in prompting him to embark on an ambitious plan to modernise the Singapore Armed Forces.

In his memoirs, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story (ISBN 0060197765), Lee stated that he had taken offence that Brigadier Syed Mohamed had "insisted" that his Malaysian motorcycle outriders escort him from his City Hall office to Parliament House for the ceremonial opening of the first Parliament of Singapore.

Lee was also fearful that Brigadier Alsagoff may be persuaded by Syed Ja'afar Albar to stage a coup months after Singapore's separation from Malaysia. Brigadier Alsagoff with his brigade based in Singapore could have easily captured him and his ministers. Lee and his family eventually moved from their family home to the Istana guarded by a company of Gurkha guards.

Syed Ja'afar Albar had strongly opposed Singapore's separation from Malaysia, and had resigned as UMNO secretary-general in protest.

However, one of Alsagoff's former subordinates, Lt-Col Fathol Zaman Bukhari (Arabic: فتح الزمان البخاري‎‎ Fatḥ az-Zamān al-Bukhārī), stated that Alsagoff was a jovial, larger-than-life figure who liked to instil fear in his subordinates; and that Lee would not have acted so impetuously if he had known Alsagoff's sense of humour.[6][7][8]


From Third World to First: The Singapore Story (ISBN 0060197765) [1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singapore's 100 Historic Places. National Heritage Board and Archipelago Press. 2002. p. 30. ISBN 981-4068-23-3. 
  2. ^ Azrah, Edian (2003). "Hajjah Fatimah". Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board. Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2017-04-13. 
  3. ^ "Masjid Hajjah Fatimah". National Heritage Board. Archived from the original on 23 November 2017-04-13. Retrieved 11 November 2015.  Check date values in: |archive-date= (help)
  4. ^ Arndt Graf; Susanne Schroter; Edwin Wieringa (2010). Aceh: History, Politics and Culture. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-981-4279-12-3. (PDF version). 
  5. ^ "Fort Canning (Bukit Larangan) : Its World War II History". Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  6. ^ "New Straits Times - Google News Archive Search"
  7. ^ "Late Syed Mohamed was very much a larger-than-life figure", New Straits Times, 19 September 2000.
  8. ^ "Valour and Courage: WO 2 Lenggu ak China - Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa In An Ambush In "Sungei" (river) Katibas". Retrieved 2014-01-24.