Raja Alang Iskandar, the first Malay Assistant Commissioner of Police

The following article on Almarhum Sultan Iskandar ibni Almarhum Sultan Idris Murshidul Azzam Shah was written by the late Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard:

“The reluctance of Malays to join the Police Force in the Federated Malay States had been a serious obstacle to progress. In 1905, Captain A. McD Graham was appointed adjutant of the newly formed Police Depot in Kuala Lumpur. Before coming on transfer to Kuala Lumpur, Graham had served for ten years in Perak, first with the Perak Sikhs and later with the Malay State Guides.

Sultan Iskandar in the uniform of Honorary Comissioner of Police of the FMS. (Source: Arkib Negara Malaysia)

“Graham suggested that if a member of a Malay Royal family could be persuaded to accept appointment as an officer in the F.M.S. Police, Malay public opinion about service in the force was certain to change. He put his suggestion to Talbot, naming Raja Alang Iskandar and with enthusiasm recommended it to Sir Frank Swettenham, the High Commissioner, early in 1905. Swettenham discussed his proposal with Sultan Idris I and was given his approval.

“A new era in Police history began on August 1 1905, when Raja Alang Iskandar was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police and was responsible for recruiting the Malays at the Police Depot, Bluff Road, Kuala Lumpur.

“He began to travel widely, first in Perak and later in the other three Malay States, explaining to village headmen and groups of young Malays advantages of joining the re-organised Police Force. And his campaign began to show results.

Sultan Iskandar in police uniform, with Raja Muda Abdul Aziz. (Source: Muzium Polis DiRaja Malaysia)

“He designed the new uniform which was worn by Malay Police until 1941: the khaki tunic and shorts, khaki puttees, black boots and a black pill-box cap.

“He took an active part in sport at the depot and continued to devote his very considerable ability to the improvement of the Police Force until 1916 when, on the death of his father Sultan Idris, he returned to Perak to become the Raja Bendahara.

“After being appointed the Sultan of Perak in 1918, in succession to his half brother, he accepted the position of Honorary Commissioner of Police, and retained an unfailing interest in the force until death 22 years later.”

Reference: Sheppard M. The first Malay Assistant Commissioner of Police. Malaysia In History. 1970; XIII (1).

Tan Sri Datuk (Dr) Hj. Abdul Mubin Sheppard (1905-1994)


Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Hj. Abdul Mubin Sheppard (M.C.ff. Sheppard) was a historian of Malaysian cultural and heritage.

Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard was born in Ireland in 1905.

In 1927 he sat for the Malayan Civil Service (MCS) Competitive Examination in London, and  arrived in Malaya in 1928 to serve with the MCS till 1963.

He served as a Company Commander in the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force (FMSVF) from 1941-1942. During the Second World War (1942-1945) he became a Prisoner of War (POW).  He retired as a Major in the FMSVF in 1945.

In 1958, his illustrious career as a historian and archivist started.  He was appointed the “First Keeper of Public Records” which is now known as The National Archive of Malaysia.  He held a few other  important post during his career as an archivist:

  1. The first Director of National Museum of Malaya
  2. Asst. President and Editor of Malaysian Branch Royal Asiatic Society (MBRAS)

Between the years 1959 and 1963, he was:

  1. Executive Committee member of the Malayan History Society
  2. Central Committee  member and the Committee Chairman of PERKIM and its publication.
  3. Co-founder and the President of Gurney Boys Club Seremban.

Tan Sri Sheppard was also a founding member of the Badan Warisan Malaysia and Sahabat Warisan Malaysia. Sahabat Warisan Malaysia (Friends of the Heritage of Malaysia Trust) was a society set up in 1984 to support Badan Warisan Malaysia in its objectives. The Mubin Sheppard Memorial Prize is a culmination of one of its fundraising efforts.

Tan Sri passed away on 11 September 1994 and was laid to rest at the Ampang Muslim Burial Ground in Kuala Lumpur.

1.  Arkib Negara Malaysia
2.  Journal of Malaysian Branch Royal Asiatic Society (JMBRAS)
3.  National Library of Australia (online catalogue)

Tengkolok Di-Raja

balong ayam

Balong ayam.

patah kepak

Ayam patah kepak.

lang menyonsong angin

Lang menyonsong angin.

According to legend, the first Sultan of Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (1528 – 1549) set sail to Perak to form the Perak Sultanate following an invitation by Tun Saban. Sultan Muzaffar was the second prince born to the last Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mahmud Shah, who was then exiled to Johor following the fall of Melaka to the Portuguese. He carried on his ship many of the royal regalia of the Melaka Sultanate, including the Royal Crown of Melaka.

On nearing Perak, the ship carrying Sultan Muzaffar Shah entered shallow waters and was stuck. They decided to lighten the load of the ship to get the ship sailing again. Many of the items carried on the ship were thrown into the sea but the ship still refused to budge, until all that was left was the Royal Crown. The sea was pleased with the offering of the Royal Crown because the ship subsequently miraculously set sail on its own to Perak.

Sultan Muzaffar Shah saw the miracle as a sign, and he swore that he and his descendants would never wear a crown as Sultans, or never be crowned during their installation. This practice came to be followed by the Malay Sultans of the other states. Therefore, the Malay head-dress known as the Tengkolok came to be the replacement for a crown.

The styles, persons who are eligible to wear them and the colour normally associated with rank* are as follows:

1. DYMM Sultan – Balong ayam. White and gold.
2. DYTM Raja Muda – Ayam patah kepak. Yellow and gold.
3. DYAM Raja Di-Hilir – Lang Menyusun Angin/Lang Menyonsong Angin. Black and silver.
4. Empat Raja Bergelar – Lang sioh. Purple and silver.
5. Orang Besar Empat – Getam pekasam/Ketang pekasam. Green and silver.

[* In our opinion, adhering to a particular style may not be that strict, as seen from the photo of YAM Raja Di-Hilir Kamaralzaman in the previous post, where he is seen wearing a Balong ayam, but in the black/silver colour of a RDH Perak. – the Editors]

Other styles include Anak gajah menyusu and Pucuk Pisang Patah:

g pekasam g menyusu p pisang pth

From left: Getam pekasam, Anak gajah menyusu and Pucuk pisang patah.

[The black and white photos are taken from Hj Mubin Sheppard’s 1962 article in Malaya In History, and the tengkoloks were tied by Tuan Hj Shukor bin Yusuf of Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar.]

1. Sheppard M. Malay tengkolok – Court head-dresses in Perak, Trengganu and Kelantan compared. Malaya In History. 1962; VIII (1): 32-36.
2. Tengkolok. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.