ON Sept 11, Kedahans were saddened by the news of the passing of Almarhum Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah at 2.30pm at Istana Anak Bukit in Alor Star.
I was equally shocked as I had just arrived at Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Alor Star after performing the haj when I received the devastating news. I was in disbelief. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that we have lost our beloved sultan.
But, that is Allah’s will and we have to accept it, no matter how painful it is. Sultan Abdul Halim, well-known by many as the “people’s ruler”, was dearly loved by the rakyat from all walks of life. And now, he had returned to his creator, accompanied by our prayers.
I just want to share the sad moment with readers. I was exhausted upon arriving home from Saudi Arabia when I was informed of his passing. But, I immediately rushed to the palace, and chaired a meeting for the royal funeral at Wisma Darul Aman. I then made an official announcement in the presence of journalists, who had waited patiently for the news to be made official.
News of the sultan’s demise had actually gone viral a few hours prior to the official announcement. But, mainstream media organisations had waited for the announcement as they are obliged to observe the code of ethics, unlike the social media, which are not bound by any code.
On that note, I wish to express the state government’s regret over the act of several irresponsible individuals, who made postings that contained insulting elements on the late sultan of Kedah, which had gone viral on social media.
Those who committed such acts are immature and hiding behind social media accounts to
air their frustration without valid reasons. They are just a bunch
of irresponsible people, who abuse the social media to spread lies and smear the reputation of others by taking advantage of their weaknesses.
I am saying this because I was one of the victims. Someone apparently tried to photograph me during an official ceremony with the intention to discredit me. It is disheartening that some people have no respect at all for such official ceremony. However, I was not offended, neither did I lose my temper, since I have gotten used to it and am always prepared to counter the slander and lies, but please, have some respect for the palace’s official ceremony. The lack of respect is a reflection of poor values — to be so politically desperate to the extent of being insensitive and ignoring respect for an institution.
The following day, on Sept 12, as provided for under Article 17 of the state constitution, Raja Muda of Kedah Tunku Sallehuddin Ibni Al Marhum Sultan Badlishah was proclaimed the 29th Sultan of Kedah.
The proclamation ceremony was held steep in royal tradition, opening a new chapter in the history of Kedah monarchy.
Immediately after the proclamation, the royal funeral for the late Sultan Abdul Halim proceeded at the Royal Mausoleum, marking the end of his reign.
The media reported that over 10,000 people thronged the palace to pay their last respects to Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim. Along the 13km journey from the palace to the Royal Mausoleum in Jalan Langgar, Kedahans, of all races, lined up to bid their final farewell to their beloved ruler. I could see most of them were teary-eyed.
I recalled the day nine months ago when Kedahans joyfully stood by to welcome home Sultan Abdul Halim and Sultanah Haminah Hamidun after the former completed his term as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the second time. Sultan Abdul Halim was the only sultan to serve as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong twice, from 1970 to 1975 and 2011 to 2016. His second tenure ended on Dec 12 last year.
I am truly impressed by the loyalty and love showed by the people of Kedah towards Sultan Abdul Halim throughout his reign until his final journey to the mausoleum.
Although I was exhausted from my pilgrimage, I pushed myself to complete my last and final duty to Sultan Abdul Halim.
On Sept 15, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, visited Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim’s grave upon their return from a working visit to the United States. They spent about half an hour and recited tahlil prayers. Najib was very close to Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim and it was obvious that the loss was deeply felt from the grief on his face.
Najib later told journalists covering his visit that Sultan Abdul Halim was like a father to him and they had known each other for a long time since the 1970s, when his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was prime minister. Sultan Abdul Halim had served as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during that period.
This is the destiny of every human being, there is an end for every beginning, regardless of rank or title.
I am forever grateful that I had the chance to serve Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim and that has left a positive impact on me. I was exceptionally lucky, as Sultan Abdul Halim was wise, warm and caring.
I will forever remember Almarhum Tuanku as the perfect symbol of a charismatic leader. There is no doubt at all that Almarhum Sultan Abdul Halim had left a huge impact on the people of Kedah and Malaysians at large. He will be dearly missed.
**The writer is Kedah menteri besar