Mohamed Latiff Mohamed (b. 1950)
Mohamed Latiff Mohamed is a prolific poet and writer in Singapore’s Malay literary scene. A teacher by training, he is best known for his works about the struggles of the Malay community in post-independence Singapore. A three-time winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, Mohamed Latiff was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2013. Born in Singapore on 20 March 1950, he received his education at Guillemard Malay School, followed by Tun Seri Lanang Secondary School and Kaki Bukit Secondary School.
Mohamed Latiff started writing at age 16 when he was still a student at Tun Seri Lanang Secondary School. In 1966, his poem “Kepincangan” [Handicaps] was published in the school magazine. That same year, his first short story, “Ani cintamu masih usang” [Ani, your love is still outdated], was published in the October issue of Bintang Dan Lagu [Star and Song], a popular entertainment magazine at the time.
After completing his secondary education, Mohamed Latiff continued his studies at the Teachers’ Training College (the present-day National Institute of Education). He taught at several primary and secondary schools before being posted to the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore as a specialist writer responsible for developing course materials for the Malay-language secondary curriculum. He retired from the education service in 1999 to pursue writing full-time.
Although he writes in many genres, Mohamed Latiff is best known for his poetry. According to him, poetry is a form of enlightenment that enriches the human spirit. His novel, Batas langit [Sky's Limit], was awarded a consolation prize in the 1999 Malay Literary Awards by the Malay Language Council of Singapore, and was subsequently published in English translation by Epigram Books as Confrontation. Another novel, Dalam keasingan [In Isolation], was subsequently adapted into a play by Teater Ekamatra in 1990.
Mohamed Latiff is an active and longstanding member of Malay literary association Angkatan Sasterawan ’50 or Asas ’50 [Literary Movement of the ’50s]. Formed in 1950, the association aims to develop Malay literature and culture, protect the rights of its members and introduce innovations in literature while preserving traditional literary forms. Mohamed Latiff is among the second generation of Malay writers who has led Asas ’50 since the 1980s. He is currently vice-president of the association and regularly represents the association at various literary events and conferences. In 2010, the association presented him with the Anugerah Munsyi Abdullah award for his long-term commitment to creative writing.
Author Photo © Mohamed Latiff Mohamed. All rights reserved. Author Biography from National Library Board Infopedia (2014)