火曜日, 4月 26, 2005

The smiling civil servant

"Reminiscences are always happy; they rejuvenate us, and give us a wish to relive the glorious days of our youth. It is wonderful how lasting strong impressions can be. Little boyhood incidents, the names and eccentricities of friends, school activities, outstanding sports event, peculiarities of teachers and all things connected with college life comes refreshingly to the mind many years after."



-YM Raja Kamaralzaman ibn Raja Mansur, CMG OBE, RDHPk
MC magazine 1950, pp 58-64


when i was in kino during my short break, i bought a book marking the centenary of malay college kuala kangsar. now, before anyone makes a comment how tired they are of another pro-koleq blog entry, i'd like to say i'm not a product of the said boarding institution. it was a place i would have loved to go to (i went to a better school in the end -haha), after much encouragement from my late mom (who was a STFian - the durian daun, melaka one). she would tell me of how being in boarding school would help guarantee me a scholarship to pursue my studies in england. it's pretty much every parent's wish. to see their child get a good start in life.

anyways, back to the koleq 100 year book. i bought it to see if there was any mention of my grandfather. i never knew him as he died 8 years before i was born. all i know about him are stories from my dad, uncles and my late pah. another thing i knew about him was that he was one of the first students in koleq. he was in fact the first head boy. i couldn't check out the contents as kino had it wrapped in frickin' clingfilm. much to my dismay, it was merely a collection of articles from the malay college school magazine and MCOBA newsletters. that was until i found out that the first entry in the book was by my grandfather!

his english was, first and foremost, i have to say, impeccable. it was written by him when he was already the raja di hilir of perak in 1950. i found after reading the page and a half of a description of how he started life in a boarding school (one that was made of a long wooden building with a thatched roof then) that his english was typical of that of a well-educated englishman. apart from being headboy he was also the captain of the malay college football team. he was a dab hand in sports as well, and i didn't know that! i knew that my dad and his many brothers were avid sportsmen (my dad played rugby - the gene of which i didn't inherit!). my dad had never described my grandfather in that light.


A valuable old photograph of the team with fellow students standing behind, and taken directly in front of the thatched-roof school is one of my proudest possessions. -Raja Kam (he's the reclining captain at the front!)


he was born in kota lama in 1892. after leaving the malay college, he joined the malay administration service in 1910 and then onwards was district officer in places as wide-ranging from bentong to seremban. he was a raja bergelar by the time he was 41 (the year my dad was born) and later, third in line to the throne of perak in 1948. my dad described him as a strict paternal figure, akin to the types in victorian times. firm but fair. known as raja kam by his friends, he was a humble man who was forever smartly dressed, never forgetting to wear a hat when venturing out to the new club in the taiping sun. he was to be knighted by queen elizabeth II in 1955 (the first perak malay to be knighted was his uncle, raja sir chulan, who was knighted by king george V in 1930) but he went as far as saying to his children: "ayah selalu dok jalan pegi changkat jering, dok beli belacan, pekasam... tak mau lah sir-sir ni!". his lack of enthusiasm to face another trip to london resulted him in receiving only the CMG (companion of the order of st. michael and st. george, as opposed to KCMG - knight commander of the order of st. michael and st. george). he died in taiping in 1962 after suffering a stroke.

an article in a 1960's issue of the history of malaya described him as "the smiling civil servant". even to the end of his days, his family and close friends would still see the smile despite his facial paralysis. i hope i have, at least by now, got to know more about my grandfather and some aspects of his life, even if it means getting to know him better from a chapter in a book.