Tunku Abdul Rahman – birth

Tunku Abdul Rahman was born in Istana Pelamin, Alor Star, Kedah, the seventh son and twentieth child of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the twenty-fourth Sultan of Kedah. His mother, Paduka Seri Cik Menjalara, was the Sultan’s sixth wife and the daughter of a Siamese nobleman, Luang Naraborirak (Kleb), a Thai district officer (Nonthaburi Province) during the reign of King Rama V of Thailand. He was loved by his parents.

Of all the Prime Ministers, Tunku had the most interesting story of birth. In 1902, the Keeper of the Ruler’s Seal was exposed as a man who had misused the trust placed in him and had sold state land for his own gain. Punishment lay with the Sultan, who ordered death for the Keeper, and decreed that the right thumb of the Keeper’s wife as well as those of his children should be chopped off as a taint they would carry on for the rest of their lives.

The Keeper’s wife rushed to Menjalara, then known to be the Sultan’s favourite and implored her intervention. Menjalara, following her maternal instincts, agreed to intercede. She had an audience with the Sultan and told him that she was pregnant again, but feared her child might be seriously affected if the punishment on the Keeper and his family were to be carried out.

Menjalara was a subtly clever woman, as there is a Malay superstition that a husband should do nothing evil during the period of his wife’s pregnancy, otherwise a dark spirit would enter the child in the womb. Sultan Abdul Hamid was so elated at the news that his favourite wife was presenting him with another child, and so anxious that nothing unfortunate should happen that he ordered the Keeper to prison instead and cancelled the punishment on his family.

The truth, however, was that Menjalara was not pregnant at that time. But she conceived soon afterwards, and the child born was Tunku Abdul Rahman who, when he was alive, delighted in saying that he was “born under a true”.AA


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