Raja Kassim Kamaralzaman: A light-hearted SembangKuala post

Raja Kassim in his late teens, circa 1950 (Source: Raja Muzaffar Kamaralzaman)

Raja Kassim in his late teens, circa 1950. (Source: Raja Muzaffar Kamaralzaman)

My uncle, YM Raja Kassim, is known to us as Ayah Kassim (Engku Kassim to pretty much everyone else), and is the eldest surviving son of YAM Raja Kamaralzaman ibni Raja Ngah Mansur, born in Seremban in 1933. As a child, he was mainly brought up by his aunt, Raja Teh Mariam Raja Ngah Mansur, in Taiping and Sabak Bernam during which time he attended Malay Schools and he was subsequently educated at King Edward VII School, Taiping. Like most of his brothers, he was then educated at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (1947-1951). Amongst his more famous classmates was one YAM Tengku Ahmad Shah ibni Sultan Abu Bakar, who is now HRH The Sultan of Pahang. “The first boy I spoke to when I arrived at the College was Atan (Raja Dato’ Shahabuddin Razman)”, fondly recalling his College days over roti canai at Devi’s with the SembangKuala editors one fine Saturday morning. At MCKK, he was already then a keen sportsman, playing hockey for the College First XI, as well as football and cricket.

Raja Kassim when he was Inspector in Ipoh. This photo was taken at the Istana Bendahara, official residence of the RDH Perak. (Source: Raja Muzaffar Kamaralzaman)

Raja Kassim when he was a Police Inspector in Ipoh. This photo was taken at the Istana Bendahara, official residence of the RDH Perak. (Source: Raja Muzaffar Kamaralzaman)

A year after finishing his Senior Cambridge certificate at MCKK, Ayah Kassim joined the police force in 1952 as an Inspector in Pahang where he was posted as second-in-command of the Special Constabulary in Kuala Lipis. He sheepishly remembered his job interview at the police force, “In the interview panel was Ayah Hisham (the late Raja Ahmad Hisham, a first cousin to Raja Kamaralzaman). I didn’t know who he was at that time, and he looked at my name and asked, ‘So, do you have any relatives in the force?‘ to which I confidently answered, ‘No!'”. During the height of the Emargency, he was sent to Fort Dixon and Fort Sinderut in deepest Pahang as Garrison Commander with Federal Jungle Company (currently known as the Police Field Force).

Raja Kassim at Fort Dixon in Pahang as Garrison Commander with Federal Jungle Company, c.1956

Raja Kassim armed with a Bren Gun on patrol in Pahang during the height of the Malayan Emergency, 1956.

Raja Kassim remained in Pahang until 1957 when he was transferred to Perak attached to the Special Branch. He then had short stints at the Contingent Special Branch Headquarters in Kota Bharu, Kelantan and Johor Bahru, Johor. For his service in the police force from 1948 to 1955, he received the Pacific Star Medal from the British Government of Malaya. He also received the General Service Medal for service in the police force during the Emergency between 1955 and 1957.

Together with my father, Raja Muzaffar Kamaralzaman, Ayah Kassim was close to the sons of Raja Razman Raja Abdul Hamid (Ku Nick), namely the aforementioned Raja Atan and Raja Din, visiting them at Rumah Hitam in Kuala Kangsar somewhat frequently in the 1950’s. For those from the Raja Razman family who knows of the Kona Mat Lawa incident with Ku Nick’s Packard (“Packard! America’s Number One!” exclaimed Ku Nick), suffice for me to mention that Ayah Kassim was possibly within earshot of the said episode that was followed by a flying clock.

Left: Photo taken in Seremban, 1973 (Source: Raja Kassim Kamaralzaman); Right: Raja Kassim as he is now. Photo taken at his residence in KL, 2009. (Source: Raja Mahariz Muzaffar)

Left: Photo taken in Seremban, 1973 (Source: Raja Kassim Kamaralzaman); Right: Raja Kassim today, at his residence in KL, 2009. (Source: Raja Mahariz Muzaffar)

He then got married in 1961 and later joined the Royal Malaysian Customs Department in 1964 as Superintendent at the Anti-Smuggling Division in Penang, following which time he was stationed at Johor Bahru, Seremban and finally in Kuala Lumpur, where he now lives. During his time in the Customs Department, he underwent an administration training programme in Australia under the Colombo Plan. Following his retirement as Director of Industries with the Customs Department in 1988, he was still a keen sportsman (he can makan anyone at the snooker table) and is a known avid lover of golf (he is a member of KGNS together with the likes of Raja Dato’ Lope Ahmad, Maj Gen (R) Raja Dato’ Ibrahim Shahriman and Raja Dato’ Seri Karib Shah Shahruddin), having played a few senior golfer tournaments. He is proud of his single handicap and had scored four “hole-in-ones” to date, since first picking the game up in 1964.

He is married to Jannatul Aliah Hj Hambali and has a daughter and two sons – my cousins, Raja Teh Mariam, Raja Iskandar Dzulkarnain and Raja Halim Muadzam Shah. He has three grandchildren – Raja Alyssa Aishah, Raja Akiff Ashraf and Raja Aril Azhad.

M.

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Footnote: [*] The author would like to bring the reader’s attention to the alternative title for this post that was first mooted – One In A Million, for the fact you don’t see/hear of many Raja Kassim’s in the family. The last (famous) one, for the record, was one Raja Kassim who lived in 15th century Melaka, but when he became sultan, he became Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1445-1459)!

2 thoughts on “Raja Kassim Kamaralzaman: A light-hearted SembangKuala post

  1. Uncle Kassim, next to my other Uncle – Raja Azam and my Dad – were among the first fashion inspirations I had as a child. So profound was he, I had quoted him in my GLAM Lelaki article as a ‘To the Manor Born’ fashion icon. I remember admiring his paisley silk jabot and vintage pipes when he stayed in a bungalow at Kampong Pandan. What a dapper dresser he was. Uncle Kassim could turn heads spinning when he sauntered into any clubhouse. When I got Tom Ford’s luxe clogs in 2003, Uncle Kassim came to mind as he wore them way back in the 70’s in wanton abandon. Perusing through KL’s high society types, many mentioned Uncle Kassim as snazzy dresser, a gentleman lovingly cut, sewn and embellished from a different cloth altogeter. Honest to goodness, there are not men of his calibre these days.

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