Time moves very fast especially when all that you need most is time.

It’s been quite a while and as I desperately hope the fall-out from the fiasco of pulling out at the last minute (that one, ha ha) quietly dies off, I can’t help but revisit certain things that you subconsciously forget before.

In the midst of the fast-paced events of the last 2 months, I missed out one important date/event that I had never failed to remember before. A close friend, who was as good as a brother to me, passed away silently in his sleep due to a cardiac arrest on 22 October 2007 at the tender age of 31. I was overseas at the time and it was a race against time flying back and chasing kereta jenazah so that I could see his face before he was buried – I didn’t make it and that experience (losing somebody so important in your life) haunted me. Each year, as 22 October approaches, I usually go through a somewhat peculiar calmness, as I revisit his life and death and try my best to honour him with prayers and Quran recital.

This year, I missed it completely – didn’t even send an sms to his widow and 4 children left behind.

The budget, shuttling between one place etc quickly eclipsed the personal and spiritual journey that I carefully observed these last few years.

Now that November is around, the clock ticks again as I wait for 24 January, the date when a great mentor and friend passed away. Allahyarham Adlan Benan Omar passed away on 24 January 2008 due to various sickness. In my mind, he is irreplaceable as the most talented and brilliant intellectual giant of my generation. You can google him and you will feel how special this person was from all the tributes people made about him.

Hopefully 24 January 2011 that marks Ben’s 3-year of leaving us will not pass uneventful.

Politics, public life and everything takes a toll on us. In 2009, when I decided to walk away from the promise of corporate high-flyers life, I wanted to take a 6-month break so that I could observe Ramadhan peacefully and then write a book, maybe a memoir of my time with the late Adlan Benan Omar. It never happened as I began to receive many calls.

After the tumultuous events of the last 2 months (which was private and personal to me despite the whole campaign being public), I learnt one important lesson, which I hope to share with the young and budding politicians out there, wherever you are.

A public life does not mean you have to lose your originality. Being a public figure and a leader is about being transparent – the moment you change who you are because you want to suit to what you think the public wants, then you are a politician; often will be viewed with disdain in the future for the fork-tongued image often associated with politicians.

The public does not want more politicians, they want statesmen and leaders. A statesman and a leader leads even if he/she is not in synch with what the society’s trend and opinion is at a particular time. But that’s why he/she is a leader – because the task entrusted upon him is to lead towards change; not to propagate what is already accepted or popular with society.

As I revisited Gandhi or Naidu (Sarojini Naidu, to those who may not know), I am reminded that they never lose their humanity in spite of living their life in a glass. Gandhi was more remembered for his kindness and thoughts, more than his open defiance of the British rule. Naidu was not remembered for her genius (she was considered a child prodigy and a genius) but for her words and exemplary choices she made to defy the norms of her society.

So let us remember that one should not lose oneself in search for a place in the public life.

With the reminder, I re-post one of Arwah Adlan Benan’s many writings on history (which I am sure he typed over a plate of goreng pisang in 10 minutes!) so that I can be reminded of the great people before us, whom we seek to follow on this path.


Assalamualaikum and Salam Sejahtera Dr Aman et al,

Re: Dr Aman’s previous e-mail. Thank you for the notes.

The role of the Bendahara in a succession was so important not only because he was the most senior noble and officer of state, but also because often he held the largest fiefdoms.

On the death of Mahmud Riayat Shah III of Johor in 1813, a unique situation occured. Except for Tengku Long (later Sultan Hussein Muhammad Shah) and Tengku Komeng (later Sultan Abdul Rahman Muadzam Shah I), sons of the deceased Sultan, no other blood princes of the line of Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Shah I (1722-1760) were alive.

The Johor monarchy had no settled system of succession. Before 1699, only three of nine successions were of sons succeeding fathers. The eldest son, or a porphyrogenitus (“anak gahara”) did not necessarily have a better claim than his brothers unless nominated so by their father during his lifetime. The bearer of the title Tengku Besar was
usually considered to be the heir apparent. Neither Tengku Long or Tengku Komeng was so named.

The Bendahara, the senior member of the Royal Family (being a direct descendant of Tun Abbas, ELDEST son of Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah IV d. 1720) could have proclaimed Tengku Long as Sultan. In fact he did not do so, though Tengku Long was in Pekan getting married to his daughter. Probably the Bendahara was unsure what to do. As was Tengku Puteri Hamidah, the dowager queen of Mahmud III but mother of neither princes. Obviously, Mahmud III had not named his successor.

A precedent existed. When Sultan Sulaiman died in 1760, he also left two sons. The eldest, Tengku Abdul Jalil, was away in Selangor at the time of his father’s death. The younger prince was in Riau. But as Tengku Abdul Jalil was Tengku Besar, he was proclaimed Sultan Abdul Jalil Muadzam Shah V, even while he was at sea. Sultan Abdul Jalil in fact died at sea, before reaching Riau, to be succeeded by a six year old boy as Sultan Ahmad Riayat Shah, reigning for less than a year. In turn, his only surviving brother, Mahmud, aged less than two years, duly became Mahmud Riayat Shah III.

But Tengku Long was not the “Tengku Besar”, and as such may not have been considered his father’s choice. The precedent was not followed and the rest, as they say, is history.

Several Bendaharas have determined the succession in the Melaka-Johor dynasty. Bendahara Seriwa Raja Tun Perpatih Sedang gave his consent to the coup which placed Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1446-1456) as Sultan instead of the boy ruler Sultan Abu Shahid (1444-1446). Bendahara Paduka Raja Tun Perak insisted that the murderous Crown Prince Raja Muhammad of Melaka (d 1475) be replaced and exiled. He was also instrumental in replacing the next eldest prince Raja Ahmad with his younger brother Raja Hussein/Radin. One of the Bendaharas of Johor, either Paduka Raja Tun Isap or Seri Maharaja Tun Khoja Ahmad was instrumental in placing a Pahang-Kelantanese prince Raja Umar as Sultan Ali Jalla Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah II of Johor in 1571, the only case in Malay hisory of a father succeeding his own son as Sultan, and thereby supplanting the Melaka dynasty with a rival ruling house.


Adlan Benan Omar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.