by Raja Mariam Raja Mohamed Iskandar
The first time I heard of the name Suzuki was in the SembangKuala post ‘A spy in our midst’. This name surfaced again yesterday in Taiping. This time the name came with a face.
On a courtesy call to an uncle, YM Raja Halid bin Raja Berima, 78, of Assam Kumbang, Taiping, an old picture tumbled out of an envelope containing old family snapshots. As the picture was not exactly new to us, it was not really given much of an attention. Except, an Oriental man with a confident pose attracted my interest because in his white jacket and pants with a hat to boot, he stood out. I took a second look and when asked, Ayah Halid said, “Oh, itu Suzuki. A photographer very close to the royal family.”
A photographer?! My mind raced back to the aforementioned SembangKuala post that I had read and without hesitation, I exclaimed, ‘He’s a Japanese spy!” The picture was taken pre-World War II although the exact year is unknown. It was taken at Istana Kolam (a name recognisable only to a dwindling few now) with Almarhumah Raja Perempuan Kelsom, a young Raja Di-Hilir Idris ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Tengku Adlan and Raja Ali bin Raja Kulop Muhammad, the Pawang Di-Raja. Raja Halid said when Suzuki returned to Japan before the World War II erupted, he was holding the rank of a colonel. He was known to have such an affection for Kuala Kangsar that because of his influence, Kuala Kangsar was spared during the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941. Ipoh and Taiping were targets of Japanese bombings, but Kuala Kangsar escaped unscathed, according to Raja Halid.
As a Kuala Kangsarian, for that, I say “Thank you, Suzuki-san“, posthumously.
Raja Halid bin Raja Berima is a direct descendant of Marhum Muda Sultan Mahmud Shah (Raja Kimas) ibni Sultan Muhammad Shah, the 16th Sultan of Perak (1765-1773).
Raja Mariam Raja Mohamed Iskandar lives in Rapat Setia, Ipoh.