Glimpses of my father: Raja Dato’ Badri Shah bin Raja Harun Al-Rashid

by Raja Nor Izaliah Raja Badri Shah

Bapak as a young man.

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 in traditional Malay attire.

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 at Istana Iskandariah, seen here with my mother, Raja Norhira Raja Shahruddin (seated, left), Raja Dato Amir Raja Razman and Raja Datin Mariam Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid (seated, right).

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!

Bapak looking dapper in formal black tie (left), and College jacket and cravatte (right).

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.

The last Raja Bendahara: Raja Abdul Rashid ibni Sultan Idris I

Raja Abdul Rashid in his MCS uniform. (Source: Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan)

DYAM Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid ibni Sultan Idris Murshidul Azam Shah was born at Bukit Chandan in 1889. He was educated at the Central School, Taiping (now King Edward VII School) and the Malay College Kuala Kangsar. At the age of 19, he joined the Federal Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur in 1908 and was later in the Malay Civil Service (MCS). In 1911, he was aide-de-camp to his father, Sultan Idris I, and was a member of the entourage (which included Raja Chulan ibni Sultan Abdullah) accompanying  Sultan Idris I at the coronation of George V and Queen Mary in England.

After serving 30 years to three Sultans (Sultan Idris I, Sultan Abdul Jalil and Sultan Abdul Aziz) as the aide-de-camp, Raja Abdul Rashid was promoted as the Malay Secretary to the Sultan in 1935. In the same year, Raja Abdul Rashid became the member of the Perak State Council.

A group photo with Almarhum Sultan Abdul Jalil at the Tanjong Malim Rest House in 1917. Raja Abdul Rashid (then the Raja Kechil Bongsu) is seated on the far right. Also in the photo, from left, are Raja Bendahara Alang Iskandar, Raja Kamaralzaman Raja Mansur and Raja Harun Al-Rashid.

Raja Abdul Rashid was Raja Kechil Bongsu in 1916, and was promoted to Raja Kechil Tengah in 1933 following the demise of Raja Said Tauphy ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdullah II. He was the Raja Di-Hilir in 1939 and was finally the Raja Bendahara Wakil al-Sultan Wazir al-Kabir in 1948. In 1950, Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid was made Regent of Perak during Sultan Yussuf Izzudin’s trip to Europe. Raja Muda Idris at that time was in England furthering his studies.

The left photo shows Raja Abdul Rashid with his first wife, Raja Lun Zubaidah. The lady with the parasol on the right is Raja Kimas binti Raja Sir Chulan. (Source: Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan)

Raja Abdul Rashid was first married to Raja Lun Zubaidah Raja Ahmad, and later to Raja Kimas, the daughter of Raja Sir Chulan. For his service in the MCS he was appointed Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by George VI in 1948, and later Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954.

In his lifetime, Raja Abdul Rashid played polo in teams led by his brother, Sultan Iskandar Shah (1918-1938). He also holds an honorary commission in the F.M.S. Volunteer Force.

Family photo likely taken c. 1956. Sitting fom left: Raja Aishah Raja Saidin (Raja Puan Kecil), DYAM Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid holding Raja Kamarul Bahrin, Tengku Puteri Zaleha binti Sultan Ismail of Trengganu (wife of Raja Ahmad Baharuddin). Standing from left: Raja Shoran Shah and Raja Ahmad Baharuddin. (Source: Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan)

Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid mangkat in 1958. He had issue, which included Raja Datin Mariam (the wife of Raja Dato Amir Raja Razman), Raja Shoran Shah, Raja Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Shah (Head of Department of Agricultural Technology at UPM) and Raja Ahmad Baharuddin Shah (whose son is Raja Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Shah of SeniBahri Arkitek, whose designs include the Masjid Tengku Tengah Zaharah near Kuala Trengganu).

For a .pdf file of Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid’s family tree (courtesy of Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan), please click here.


Footnote: Following his demise, the rank of Raja Bendahara was abolished and the Raja Di-Hilir was then second in line to the throne of Perak. The rank of Bendahara was subsequently bestowed on non-royals, as it had always been up to the time of Sultan Iskandar Dzulkarnain, with the title Yang Amat Berbahagia Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja, currently held by YAB Tun Syed Zahiruddin Syed Hassan.

2. Raja Nur Jannah Raja Hirdan

The courage of Captain Raja Aman Shah

Raja Aman Shah as a teenager, 1921.

Raja Aman Shah as a teenager, 1921.

YM Captain Raja Aman Shah was the son of YAM Raja Haji Harun al-Rashid ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris Murshidul Azzam Shah, the Raja Kechil Sulong (1918-1945). He was born in 1902 and was educated at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

He was initially commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Perak Batallion of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF) in 1929. He was also the Assistant District Officer in several districts around the Federated Malay States (FMS), including Ulu Selangor (1933-1934), Kuala Langat (1934-1936) and Jelebu (1936-1938), and was finally the District Officer for Port Dickson in 1938.

He was made Captain in the 3rd Negri Sembilan Batallion and served in World War 2 during the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1941. When the FMS and Straits Settlement Volunteer Forces were mobilised at the beginning of the invasion, he applied to be released into military service, even though he could have remained as DO.

A photo of Raja Aman Shah posing in uniform. (Newspaper clipping courtesy of Mazeta Hassan)

He and his comrades of the Volunteer Force fought bravely against the Japanese army in Johor and ultimately in Singapore in 1942. Following the fall of Singapore on February 15 1942, Capt Raja Aman Shah along with other soldiers from the Royal Malay Regiment and the British Volunteer Forces were rounded up in Farrer Park. In his book, Malay Nationalism Before Umno: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain, Mustapha Hussain described the selflessness of Capt Raja Aman Shah who declined an escape attempt from the Farrer Park detention camp and was willing to cover for a fellow POW from Perak if there was an investigation by the Japanese. He was also initially given a chance to be released, but declined when he was told that the release letter was for him alone. He then said that it was Allah’s will if he was to be released, and it was also Allah’s will if he and his comrades were to die together.

On February 28th 1942, he and the other POWs were marched on foot from Farrer Park to Geylang. Whilst many Malay volunteers were released to return home by the Japanese, the remaining Malay officers that remained were rounded up and brought to Bedok where all were shot at close range in trenches. The bodies of these Malay Officers, along with that of Capt Raja Aman Shah, were left where they fell, and were not accorded a formal burial.


Memorial plaque at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Singapore – Raja Aman Shah is named in the third column. (Photograph Copyright © Martin Edwards 2005)

Capt Raja Aman Shah was posthumously decorated and was commemorated on the Singapore Memorial at the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.

[YM Capt Raja Aman Shah Raja Harun Al Rashid was married to YAM Tunku Baharum binti Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid, daughter of the Sultan of Kedah, and one of his sons was also an officer of the Armed Forces, YM Major (R) Raja Ahmad Feisal Raja Aman Shah.]

2. Hussain M. Courageous fighting Malay men. In Malay Nationalism Before Umno: The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain. p 9-14
3. Sheppard M. Man of valour. In MCKK Impressions (1905-2005). p 10-12