by Raja Nor Izaliah Raja Badri Shah
Allahyarham Raja Dato’ Badri Shah was the son of Raja Kechil Sulong Harun Al-Rashid ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris I and his wife, Cik Zaidah binti Haji Mat Saman. He was born at Istana Kolam, Kuala Kangsar in 1912.
Bapak went to the Malay College (as did most of the young royals at the time). As a youth, he played football. If I’m not mistaken, he was centre forward for the MCKK team. I can recall him telling me how once, when MCKK played against Penang Free School, the PFS students came up with this chant, “Headmasta depa dok tenung kitaa…terkedip-kedip mataaa…” I can’t remember which team won the game!
Bapak then entered the civil service, working under the British. While serving the British, he contributed to the release of royals held in captivity after the uprising in Asahan, Indonesia. My mother, Raja Norhira binti Raja Shahruddin, was married to Tengku Hussein bin Tengku Alang Yahya, the Regent of Asahan. During the revolt against the royals of Asahan, Tengku Hussein was killed (assumed so, as his body was never found), as were most of the adult males of the royal household, while the women and children were held in captivity. This included my mother, who was at the time pregnant with Zaharira and my two siblings, Nasrun and Hairul Nisha. Bapak informed the British that Perak Royals were involved. The British, in turn, contacted the Dutch who intervened and procured their eventual release.
Bapak then went on to become the Private Secretary of the Sultan, serving three Sultans successively, the last one being Almarhum Sultan Idris II. Bapak worked well after retirement age, at the request of Almarhum Tuanku Sultan Idris II.
Bapak was first married to Raja Embin binti Sultan Abdul Jalil. They have a daughter, Iznin. Bapak also had three step children from Raja Embin’s previous marriage – Raja Nor Akmar, Raja Nor Hanizah and Raja Shaidatul Ihsan (bonda of the present Sultan of Selangor). He then married my mother which was his first cousin, Raja Norhira bt Raja Shahruddin, and they have three children, Raja Noor Izma (allahyarhamah), Raja Izran Shah and Raja Nor Izaliah. Bapak also had three stepchildren – Raja Nasrun, Raja Hairul Nisha (allahyarhamah) and Raja Zaharira – from my mother’s first marriage.
Bapak was a very doting husband, father, brother and uncle. He would love it when nieces and nephews came to visit and always invited them to stay overnight. He hardly ever raised his voice to his family (much less raised his hand) and always called his children Wah (short for juah). He called my mother Adik. He had a very soft spot for children and animals. When we were living at Istana Kuning (now torn down) and television sets were a rarity, bapak allowed the neighborhood children to come to the house to watch TV. When I was in primary school, he would always give lifts to children who had to walk a long way home or had missed the bus. His constant refrain, “Kesian budak renet (kecik)“. He himself insisted on sending his own children and grandchildren to and from school. To bapak, his children, step-children and grandchildren were always ‘little’ in his eyes, even when they were adults. Once, my brother Nasrun, at the time a grown man with his own family and an ex army officer to boot, climbed a chair to change a light bulb, bapak went, “Apa dibiorkan As tu panjat kerusi…??” As for animals, he loved cats, and birds were drawn to him! At one time, there was this sparrow who became a regular visitor, always perching itself on bapak’s knee whenever he lied down for a rest in the late afternoon. One day, either hungry or saja mengada-ngada, the sparrow pecked bapak’s knee until it bled!
When it came to work, bapak was very disciplined and conscientious. He was also a man of principles and would speak his mind, regardless of the fact that it might make him unpopular. He loved to write and often wrote his opinions to the papers. During his tenure as private secretary, people from all walks of life often came to our house to seek his assistance. Bapak always entertained them but for all his gentleness and soft-heartedness, he was capable of being very fierce in defence of those whom he felt to have been victimised. He would then not hesitate to meet or call the person responsible and give them a really good talking to.
His interests were music and cars. He could sing very well and could play various instruments – the guitar, piano, violin, harmonica. I believe he was a self taught musician. One of his very favourite songs was Golden Earrings. As for cars, he had all these books on them BUT he only bought cars that he could pay for in cash. He was totally against being in debt and for all his generous heartedness, he was thrifty. He totally believed in living within your means.
Bapak passed away at his home, Baitul-Izz, at Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar in 1987. As far as I’m concerned, he was a prince among men.
Raja Nor Izaliah was previously a teacher and lives in Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar. She writes and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Education (TESL) degree at the Open University Malaysia. All photos are from the author’s personal collection.