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